JJAMM (Joseph, Julian And Mary MacKillop) is a gathering of student leaders from Josephite secondary schools around Australia and New Zealand.

Learning, laughter, and leadership. The three core ingredients necessary to complete the JJAMM recipe. The JJAMM team was blessed to welcome twenty-five Josephite schools across Australia and New Zealand for a four-day leadership retreat like no other. We called attendees to cultivate their Josephite charism through the honouring of formidable leaders such as St Mary MacKillop, Fr Julian Tenison Woods, and St Joseph, and use their timeless legacy to inform their own dreams of social justice.

Day 1:

Excited, apprehensive and curious minds gathered two by two in the surrounds of Mary MacKillop Place. The question was posed, ‘how are we united in spirit, but enriched in many different ways?’ Through walking on the journey of St Mary MacKillop, Fr Julian Tenison Woods and St Joseph in the Mary MacKillop Museum, attendees were able to reflect on different leadership styles on show within the Josephite tradition. As the ice broke and friendships were made, leaders shared stories about who they are and how they connect with the Josephite story.

When Mary MacKillop is your school’s figure, she loses her ‘humanness’ in a sense. Visiting where she was and how she viewed issues reconnected me.

With a JJAMM packed day, we ended with our annual ferry ride through the city of Sydney, admiring the beauty of our world and letting our non-Sydney friends do some sightseeing!

Day 2:

The moments when we reflected on Mary MacKillop’s life and gathered around her tomb, it just reminds us of the fact that we have in life and that we should live it with purpose.
Students seeing faith in action.

Day two began with spiritual grounding at Mary’s tomb and then moved to the gifts and challenges we share as a Josephite community. We called attendees to first look inwardly to identify their own unique Charism, but to then shift outwardly, connecting it to the shared Josephite dream we have the collective responsibility of preserving.

This day also afforded the privilege of welcoming back Karen Oxley, a Josephite juggernaut, and representatives from The Cardoner Network, Matthew Maas and Xavier Carlile, to offer exciting immersive volunteer opportunities. We are also hugely grateful to our panelists, Ahmed Albouhamdan, Andrew Fayad, Brendan Price, Jane Woolford, and Sr Susan Connelly for being inspiring models of the Josephite legacy today. And with that, we said goodbye to North Sydney and made the trek to scenic Kincumber, where we ended the night with some memorable JJAMM jingles. Both students and teachers dazzled with their JJAMM renditions of popular songs, we couldn’t get “Mary Mary Mary” (sung to the tune of Money Money Money by ABBA) out of our heads!

Day 3:

As day three officially began, everyone got up in a jolt from a big bang! And no, it wasn’t from Sr Jan’s infamous singing bowl, but from the thunderstorm that had unfortunately approached us. Collectively angry about the weather disturbing the tranquility and opportunity to natural beauty of Kincumber, we transferred that anger to action in social justice! Day three enabled the leaders to put their words and ideas into action. Sr Jan, along with Nicholas Lahey, ran incredible, interactive sessions which ironically required the leaders to take lead.

I stepped out of my comfort zone and grew in confidence.

The afternoon was concluded with a beautiful Mass celebrated by Fr Gavin Foster, who perfectly encapsulated the true meaning of JJAMM and why we were all there. For our last night at JJAMM, we had our infamous JJAMMer’s Got Talent which was a highlight for all.

Day 4:

On our final day, we began by reflecting on our time at JJAMM, all the ideas we shared, how we have grown and what we want to take back to our schools. The morning prayer incorporated everyone’s individual totem, symbols we molded to represent our ever changing and growing leadership. It was a beautiful day at Kincumber to plant our trees, alongside the trees planted by past leaders.

We also spent time having discussions in our school groups and ‘grabbed an idea’ for initiatives to take back and implement at school. Our final farewell was a group dance to ‘I Have a Dream’ led by Sr Jan. We put one foot in front of the other, rocked side to side and sung ABBA’s inspiring words. An uplifting farewell to a great group of JJAMMers.

I want to do year 12 again so I can come back!
I really enjoyed the experience as I improved my confidence, gaining ideas of actions, and meeting new people.
Was something I will never forget in my whole, entire life!

The JJAMM recipe would not taste so sweet without the support of our stainless and trusty utensils. Thank you to Carly Richardson, Maria Boyd, and Nicholas Lahey for their selfless offerings of time, wisdom, and spirit. To Bernice Quinn for her invaluable administrative and organisational efforts. And for the generous and supportive staff at both Mary MacKillop Place, North Sydney and the St Joseph’s Spirituality and Education Centre, Kincumber. But most importantly, thank you to all the teachers and students who took the time to learn more about the Josephite story and for picking up the baton to lead change in their community.

Vittoria Albanese, Violet Cabral, Emilia Nicholas and Joelle Sassine
Josephite Justice Network