Sr Mary Cresp and Archbishop Patrick O’Regan.

Archbishop Patrick O’Regan launched the book written by Mary Cresp rsj, Evolution of a Movement: Josephite Associates to Josephite Companions 1979 – 2019 at the Regional Centre ‘Bethany’, Kensington, South Australia, on Thursday 1 December.

Since the Archbishop is himself a Josephite Companion, he was able to recall the impact the Sisters, especially at Perthville in New South Wales, have had on his life.

The occasional address was given by Dr David Hilliard, Chair of the Congregational Leadership Team’s (CLT) History Committee. He spoke of Sr Mary Cresp’s work as “a major addition to the published works on the history of the Sisters of Saint Joseph”.

In his lively and informative speech, Dr Hilliard explored the context of the Church in the mid-1800s and then a hundred years later in the mid-1900s. In each period, the Sisters of Saint Joseph had an impact.

In the process of rediscovering “their founding spirit and seeking to relate it to the modern world”, the Sisters of post-Vatican II came to appreciate “the idea of extending the concept of Josephite membership, sharing their life and ministry”. This was part of “the background to the emergence in the late 1970s of the Josephite Associates, the subject of Sister Mary Cresp’s ground-breaking book”.

“The movement emerged which it did’, he said, ‘because of the eruption of new ideas and energy in the aftermath of Vatican II.”

The book launch happened to coincide with the retirement of Dr Hilliard from his leadership of the Josephite History Committee, a fact which was acknowledged with gratitude by Congregational Leader, Sr Monica Cavanagh. Sr Clare Conaglen, Congregational Leadership Team contact for the Josephite Companions, presented Dr Hilliard with a gift on behalf of all who have benefitted from his generosity and expertise and have been privileged to work with him.

In her response, Sr Mary Cresp thanked the many people who contributed so much to the writing of the book, especially supervisors Dr Hilliard and Sr Margaret McKenna rsj, the Sisters of Saint Joseph Congregational and Regional Archivists who, because of the limitations imposed by COVID, went beyond normal expectations to provide the author with resources, and the many Josephite Associates/Companions from all over the world who provided photos and information through personal contact.

Beautiful home-made refreshments were offered to around eighty guests while Mary signed the many books purchased.

Dr Hilliard with Sr Monica Cavanagh
Sr Liz Morris with Josephite Companion Carla