This is the view frequently expressed by visitors to the Josephite Mission and History Centre in Hobart, Tasmania.
Here we acknowledge and celebrate the past to gain inspiration for the present and vitality for the future.
Many people speak of an atmosphere of serenity permeating the building and of feeling surrounded by peace. It has been suggested that this may well be the cumulative effect of the lives and prayers of the many Sisters of Saint Joseph for whom this was home for over a century.
A stream of constant prayer supports our Ministry. The Centre is home to Christian Meditation and Lectio Divina prayer groups. Our Spirituality Ministry continues alongside the work of education with two rooms dedicated to Spiritual Direction, much of which is provided by two volunteer Directors. Reflection days and Retreat weekends form part of our offering to the local community.
The original building began life as the convent for the Sisters who answered the invitation of Archbishop Murphy to take responsibility in 1908 for the small Sacred Heart Parish school which had been operating since 1888.
A little more than a century later, the decision was taken to repurpose the building and to establish the Josephite Mission and History Centre. The interior is enhanced by a variety of timbers including the uniquely Tasmanian Huon Pine and beautiful stained glass windows.
Since opening in 2010 we have been sharing the Josephite story and that of the 22 Josephite schools which stretched from Smithton in the Far Northwest of Tasmania, through the Midlands, across to the rugged West Coast and to the most southern Catholic school in Australia at Geeveston.
The sharing of our story and charism takes place in a variety of ways. An annual Colloquium and Pilgrimage for staff from Josephite schools and ministries is much in demand. Professional Development on the Charism is offered for new teachers and for student leaders while there is a constant flow of students from Kinder to Year 12 coming to the Centre to take part in educational programs. The story is a living one which continues through the lives of the young people in our schools, in their families and in the hearts of all those who are drawn to the Josephite way of responding to the Gospel.
The Ground Floor of the Centre contains a permanent historical display while upstairs we have a contemporary library of spiritual and Josephite books and several rooms of memorabilia.
The Founding Sisters’ Room tells the story of the arrival of the first community of Sisters in Westbury in 1887 and the History Room tells the Tasmanian Story.
Father Julian’s room features the memento that Mary MacKillop gave the first Sisters when they stayed with her at Mount Street in North Sydney on their way to Tasmania. Julian’s three years of missionary and scientific work in Tasmania are well represented in the display.
A memorial wall in the Chapel honours all the Sisters who have lived and died in Tasmania since 1887.
Younger students enjoy lessons in the historic school room where, among other things, they experience the novelty of sitting at desks with inkwells. The neighbours know that school’s in when the large school bell in the courtyard rings out across New Town!
The Centre, a genuine oasis amid a busy area, provides a meeting place, not only for Sisters and Josephite Companions but also for community groups and charities with the Mission Room being much sought after as a venue.
Sr Jill Dance rsj
Josephite History and Mission Centre, Hobart