The Sisters of Saint Joseph marked the 150th anniversary of when the first Sisters of Saint Joseph arrived in Perthville to begin ministry in New South Wales on 16 July 2022.
The first community of sisters, Teresa MacDonald, Joseph Dwyer and Hyacinth Quinlan, and an enquirer, Ada Braham, arrived at Perthville near Bathurst at the invitation of Bishop Matthew Quinn on 16 July 1872.
Both St Mary MacKillop and Father Julian Tenison Woods (founders of the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Joseph) spent time with the sisters on this site.
In 1876, Bishop Quinn established from the Perthville group of Sisters a Diocesan group to serve the needs specifically of the Bathurst Diocese. This group became known as the Diocesan Sisters of Saint Joseph, eventually adopting a black habit in contrast to the brown worn by the original group. The habits, apart from the colour, were essentially the same as the founders. The rule by which the sisters lived was very similar, adapted by Fr Julian for the Diocesan group.
The Perthville group went on to establish foundations in Tasmania, New Zealand, Goulburn and Lochinvar. Between 2012 and 2014, the Tasmanian, New Zealand, Goulburn and Perthville groups fused with the original group and once again became Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart.
The Perthville complex has been ‘home’ to many sisters over the intervening 150 years, many of whom lie buried in the Sisters Cemetery in the grounds.
The ministries conducted on site have been education with Primary and Secondary Schools, a Boarding facility for girls, and an Aged Care Home.
Today, the site is a Heritage and Conference Centre hosting tours of the history centre, as well as day conferences, overnight conferences and retreats.
The site is divided into four facilities:
- The Heritage Centre at which tours are conducted educating visitors on the story of the Sisters and their life at Perthville.
- The Conference areas in which day groups are facilitated and catered for.
- The Vale Lodge, an ensuited facility in which adult groups gather for retreats, overnight conferences etc. The Vale Lodge has 5 double and 14 single rooms.
- St Joseph’s House (the former convent and boarding school) in which school groups, youth activities, sporting groups, and family group gatherings are housed. St Joseph’s House accommodates 12 single rooms, 4 twin rooms, and 52 beds in Dormitory cubicles. All of St Joseph’s House has shared toilet/shower facilities.
The complex is situated in spacious grounds set to garden beds and lawns. It boasts a large swimming pool and a BBQ area.
To mark the sesquicentenary, there was a Mass celebrated in St Michael’s and St John’s Cathedral, Bathurst followed by lunch in the Parish Hall. Afterwards at Perthville, there was the launch of an audio app, guiding one through the history centre. To download and to find out more about the app, click here.
Visit St Joseph’s Heritage and Conference Centre, Perthville website to find out more and what’s on here.
View photos of St Joseph’s Heritage and Conference Centre below.