JJAMM 2020

Young JJAMM Leaders Use Mary and Julian as Inspiration

The JJAMM program guides our Student Leaders from our schools across Australia and New Zealand through a process. The foundation of our model for leadership is Mary MacKillop and Julian Tenison Woods. We explore how they worked together while reaching out to others in order to meet the needs of the poor.

With this in mind, JJAMM leaders for 2020 have partnered with Good Grief and The Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) in order to meet the needs of those most excluded and traumatised in our Australian community.

No one needs to be reminded of the trauma and suffering bushfire victim families have experienced this summer season. The generosity of the Australian public, and indeed the world, inspires us to recall that our sense of community and compassion can be focussed and meaningful in times of such despair and danger. Such needs were not lost on our JJAMM leaders. It was decided that, as a group, the Schools represented by our JJAMM leaders would embark on an initiative partnered with Good Grief. The goal is to raise enough funds to enable qualified ‘Stormbirds‘ facilitators to travel to the bushfire devastated areas. They will train school teaching staff to help children, traumatised by their losses at the hands of the bushfires, manage, even overcome their grief.  It is our aim to raise $5,000 and so enact this initiative.  Further to this we hope to partner up with bushfire effected schools as an act of solidarity and perhaps lend a hand throughout the re-building process.

No one needs to be reminded of the trauma and suffering refugee families experience as a result of fleeing their war-torn birth country.  Attempting to make a new life in a new land, namely Australia, can add to the refugees’ feeling of disempowerment, isolation and hopelessness. Resettling in Australia presents many challenges: navigating social services (tricky enough even when English is you first language and Australia your birth country); accessing necessities to make a home; learning English; finding employment. This is, in essence, starting over.  Newly arrived refugee families long to be integrated, part of a community and foster friendships with Australian people. With this in mind, it is the goal of RCOA to host the #YearOfWelcome, where all Australians are asked to welcome refugees into the community and advocate for those still locked up on Manus Island. And so, JJAMM Leaders have elected to partner with RCOA and promote the Year of Welcome. The Leaders figured that if every student in their school were to take part in the Year of Welcome initiatives the outreach to school communities and families would number tens of thousands. It is our hope that raising awareness will contribute to the release of Manus Island Asylum Seekers as well as a more welcoming community for our newest Australian citizens – our newly arrived refugee families. Mary MacKillop said:“Little did [we] dream what was to spring from so small a beginning.” JJAMM Leaders dream and act for justice, knowing that our outreach is substantial.

The JJAMM gathering was an outstanding success. Once again the student leaders inspire us. If these young people are our future, then we are surely in good hands. The staff accompanying the students are as inspiring. These teachers have given up their weekend to participate and help supervise. Their energy and interest encourages the students to strive to make the world a better place. The Josephite Justice Network are privileged to be supported by such an outstanding dedicated group – true Josephites, seeing a need and taking action to meet the need and stand with the poor.

If you wish to make a donation to the JJAMM Stormbirds project email Sr Jan Barnett: jan.barnett@sosj.org.au

Karen Oxley

Students send welcome message #YearOfWelcome

Staff performing JJAMM Jingle recognising true leadership modelled by Mary MacKillop and Julian Tenison Woods

Photo gallery

Reflection on Mary MacKillop

From St Martha’s Home Leichhardt NSW, on 19 November 1925, Sister Mary Patricia Campbell reflects on Mary MacKillop’s care and love of her Sisters.

“A Sister was dying at Port Augusta. She was putting out a crude kerosene lamp in the church after evening devotions. The lamp burst and, in a moment, the poor Sister was in flames. She lingered for three or four days in great agony and each day kept asking for Mother Mary. The boat from Adelaide only went once a week, and at that time the nearest station to Port Augusta was Mount Remarkable. Mother Mary’s kind heart yearned to be with her dying child and in her distress, she said, ‘I shall go to Mount Remarkable and surely some kind people will drive me the rest of the journey.’ On arrival at the terminus she made fruitless efforts to get driven on; several farmers were in with their wheat, but all shook their sage heads at the prospect of driving to Port Augusta. They adjourned to the hotel and were having refreshments when Mother Mary walked in and said: ‘Gentlemen, my sister who is dying at Port Augusta, is constantly asking for me. If one of you will lend me a horse, I will ride there. Chivalry was not quite dead in those Celtic hearts. Two or three jumped up, got a pair of spanking horses and a buggy and drove her on that afternoon where she was in time to console the last moments of the dying Sister….” [1]

In today’s complicated world we are called to step up and show our true selves in utter honesty. There is criticism of those who place before us what is really happening in our world. We can take the daring of Greta Thunberg who openly shames the political world with her truths about our care of the earth; we admire the courage of the women of the Me-Too Movement as they fight sexual abuse and harassment.

Alternatively, we endure the half-truths, denials and inaction from politicians and leaders through inertia, fear or disinterest. Mary MacKillop demonstrated her commitment to those in her care through courage, fearlessness and reliance on providence.

  • What impression do you envisage the farmers gained from this encounter with Mary Mackillop?
  • Ponder the inspiration that the early sisters imbibed from Mary’s selfless and loving care of them.
  • What new insights have you gained into Mary’s life and faith from this cameo of the journey to Port Augusta?

Let us pray in the stillness for courage and strength to stand in our own truth, embolden by the example of Mary MacKillop and enlivened by the call of Jesus.

Let us thank God for all our blessings.

Michele Shipperley rsj


[1] Sr Patricia sailed from Galway, Ireland on the SS Osyth with Mary MacKillop a little before Christmas in 1874. Extract taken from Memories of Mary by those who knew her, Sisters of St Joseph 1925 – 1926

The Beatification of Mary MacKillop – A Celebration for all Australians

Srs Clare Koch and Margaret McKenna reflect back on the time since the Beatification of Mary MacKillop.

“Beatification” painting by Therese Quinn rsj and Dorothy Woodward rsj

Mary MacKillop received the title ‘Venerable’ from the Catholic Church on 13 June 1992. This was a recognition of an Australian who had practised the Christian virtues in a heroic manner. If a specialist panel of medical experts verified that there was no medical explanation for what was claimed to be a miraculous cure through her intercession with God, Sr Mary of the Cross MacKillop, the cofounder of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart, would be given the title ‘Blessed’ at a public church ceremony – a Beatification. Such an event, unique for Australia, would lay significant foundations for who we are as a people. We were being faced with someone of our own who was being named and honoured as a future Saint. The Sisters of St Joseph decided that this was a celebration to be shared with all Australians irrespective of class or religious belief.

The Josephite leadership, although uncertain that a ceremony of Beatification would eventuate, decided to prepare. Two Josephites were appointed to a Mary MacKillop Secretariat whose task was to present Mary MacKillop as an Australian, relevant to all walks of life and layers of society. By February 1993, the project was underway. The strategy was to seek the involvement and expertise of the public, through specialised committees, involving representatives across the spectrum of society, the political, secular and religious sectors.

During the next two years the life and person of Mary MacKillop was presented through books, radio and television interviews, other articles in print media, drama, cinema, art and musical compositions. Musicians were invited to compose hymns, honouring Mary MacKillop, suitable for church ceremonies. An ‘Historical Toile’ – ‘The MacKillop Toile’ – was produced to join the two Australian toiles, ‘The Philip Toile’ and the

’Macquarie Toile’. This Australian cotton product illustrated with scenes from Mary MacKillop’s life was presented as furnishing for the home. Art is considered a universal language so a ‘Mary MacKillop Art Award’ was organised with the support and help of a committee of experts. A selection of the paintings was on exhibition in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.

Early in 1994 information from Rome indicated that Mary MacKillop was likely to be beatified and that the ceremony was to be in St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. ‘Why not in Australia?’ Cardinal Clancy was approached and agreed to request that Sydney be the venue for the ceremony. Some weeks later an official announcement stated that Pope John Paul II would be visiting Australia towards the end of 1994. It was decided that the date of the ceremony of Beatification was to be celebrated on 19 January 1995.

Beatification Ceremony at Randwick Racecourse

This was welcome news but added a new dimension to the agenda of the Mary MacKillop Secretariat. The focus had widened from preparing for the beatification of Mary MacKillop to preparing also for a Papal Visit to Australia. The actual ceremony of Beatification became the responsibility of the Archdiocese of Sydney and the Josephite Secretariat joined in the organisation of allied public events such as the official welcome to the Pope, the ceremony of Morning Prayer and other celebrations. A primary issue was to find suitable venues capable of hosting large crowds. After discussion and enquiries, the Sydney Domain was hired for the official welcome to the Pope, and the racing fraternity agreed to the Randwick Racecourse being the venue for the Church ceremony of Beatification. An evening of entertainment was organised to accompany the welcome to the Pope and care was taken to maximise participation in the church ceremony of Beatification.

At this ceremony Pope John Paul II assured the congregation that ‘…the holiness demanded by the Gospel is as Australian as (Mary MacKillop) is Australian’. Truly a reason to celebrate!

Contributed by the Mary MacKillop Secretariat
Srs Clare Koch and Margaret McKenna

History in the Making: Mary MacKillop Place

An 1880’s map of St Leonards by Higginbotham and Robinson identifies the future site for the first novitiate in Sydney (the original was in Adelaide, South Australia) for the Sisters of Saint Joseph in Alma Lane, North Sydney.

Holtemann photograph dated between 1870-1875

St Leonards, later known as North Sydney, has a complex and rich history in the founding of the early Catholic community, which underpins the story of the arrival of the Sisters of Saint Joseph to Mount Street in 1884.

The Sisters of Mercy, Loreto Sisters and the Marist Brothers, Jesuits and The Grail all served the community’s educational and social needs at the time of the arrival of the Sisters of Saint Joseph.

On 19 March 1884 the formal opening of the novitiate for the Sisters of Saint Joseph in Sydney was celebrated.

The establishment of the new novitiate in the unassuming two storey stone cottage, originally built in 1855, was due to the generosity of Dean John Kenny a seminary companion of Alexander MacKillop, Mary MacKillop’s father. The two men met during their stay in Rome.

Dean John Kenny’s parish work (1867-78) included St Leonards where he was responsible for the building of the first stone Catholic church, St Mary’s Church, Ridge Street, North Sydney, which was opened in 1868.

Alma Cottage current image

The history of Mary MacKillop Place begins with the purchase of this cottage (now known as Alma Cottage) by Dean Kenny from John Whitton, a Chief Civil Engineer, in August 1867. John Whitton oversaw the massive expansion of the railways across the state from 1856 to 1890. Records indicate that Dean Kenny resided in this cottage from the mid-1870s onwards.

It was during this time that the Marist Brothers opened in 1888 St Mary’s School (next to St Mary’s Church), which would be later staffed by the Sisters of Saint Joseph in the early 1900s. The Sisters produced a network of practice schools for young novices including the Ridge Street School which became known as the ‘Practice and Demonstration’ School.

After Dean Kenny’s death his legacy of bequeathed property to the Sisters of Saint Joseph secured the Mount Street location as a significant site for pilgrims to this day.

The Land and Property Management Authority produced an informative booklet in 2010, the year of Mary MacKillop’s Canonisation, entitled ‘Mary MacKillop (1842-1909) Records of a Saint.’ This booklet details the ‘Old System deeds’ and shows how the Order gradually acquired land over time, including the purchase of land from the trustees of Reverend John Kenny who in 1887 sold Number 2 Alma Terrace for 1,000 pounds.

Final Resting Place, Mary MacKillop

In April 1890 the Congregation purchased Number 1 Alma Terrace. The original deeds include those personally signed by Mary MacKillop and were held in trust for a ‘Convent or Residence for the Sisters of the Religious Community of Women known as the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart at Mount Street North Sydney.’

Continue reading the article below:

History in the Making – Mary MacKillop Place (PDF)

Edwina Huntley
Museum Curator
Mary MacKillop Place

World Day of Prayer 2020

A powerful opportunity for people of faith to gather in solidarity, to learn, to pray and to support developing nations in their quest for human values and freedom.

I live in Dubbo, a rural town in Central Western NSW. We are caught in the grip of drought and are making every effort to support each other. Whether we live on a farm or in town, whether we conduct a business or are employed or unemployed, whether we are old or young, it is “all hands on deck” with a common purpose to survive and thrive.

One of the most powerful experiences I have had in Dubbo has been to attend The World Day of Prayer (WDP). This event is ‘a global ecumenical movement lead by Christian women.’ [1] The motto for the WDP is ‘Informed Prayer and Prayerful Action”. A different country hosts the event each year and in Dubbo we gather to pray in a different church each year. The host nation prepares resources for the use of the local community. In gathering for prayer, we learn about the history, culture, geography and people of the host nation. I must admit, I know very little about some of these countries and the WDP has given me an opportunity to get a glimpse of the joys and struggles, the hopes and values, the challenges and gifts of a human community whose members also have ‘a common purpose to survive and thrive.’

This year the World Day of Prayer occurs on 6 March. Zimbabwe is the host nation and the theme is “Rise, Take Up Your Mat and Walk”. We are invited to come together and pray around this theme for our brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe who have undergone considerable political upheaval in recent times and who are endeavouring to “promote healing in their country which searches for peace and reconciliation”.[2]

The call to action encouraged by this year’s theme is a Gospel response by people around the world to stand in solidarity with those who suffer poverty, injustice and disempowerment. It is also a call to pray consciously to our compassionate God for the insight and courage required to challenge unjust systems and to act for the good of humanity in nonviolent ways.

In rural communities it is almost natural to act ecumenically. We are bonded together by family, social and work relationships. To gather for WDP and welcome each other in our different places of worship, is Christian unity in action both locally and globally. The growth in mutual understanding and outreach ripples across the globe. Gradually, the various ‘isms’ which afflict modern society exercise less power, individually and communally. The Reign of God comes nearer.

May the World Day of Prayer 2020 encourage us all to exercise Christian hope in the face of all the hardships being experienced in Zimbabwe and at home. May we continue to pray for each other and to act justly in our own circumstances.

Christine Rowan rsj

View the World Day of Prayer Australia website here


[1] World Day of Prayer International website
[2] ibid
Image: Hands praying by congerdesign obtained from Pixabay. Used with permission.

Julian Tenison Woods: A Life – Chapters 2nd & 3rd

Chapters 2nd & 3rd

After the death of Mrs Woods the family returned to England, and within a short time, Julian was taken into the establishment of the Times. He did not remain there long. Though gifted with great literary power, as his writings in later life prove, his tastes and tendencies took another direction…Mary MacKillop
Mary MacKillop, 1871

He had become acquainted with the Rev. Francis Oakley, who had charge of the Catholic Chapel and Schools at Islington, London… Under Canon Oakley, he took partial charge of one of the schools in the suburbs, for the children of the better classes… He remained in this position about a year and a half…

Canon Oakley introduced Julian to the Honorable and Reverend Geo. Spencer, who at the time was making a sensation as Father Ignatius, the Passionist Missionary… What an attractive figure, what a charming example he must have appeared to the young teacher, then eighteen, with his yearnings for a higher spiritual life – how he must have longed to follow such a leader… It seemed a most natural conclusion when Julian Woods left Canon Oakley’s school, and entered the Passionist Order, giving himself completely to its teachings and its practices, feeling satisfied that he had found his goal.

But it was not to be… He was not long with the Passionists when his health broke down; and after being removed from one house to another for change, without any permanent benefit, it was considered by those who had a right to judge that the austerities of the Order were greater than his constitution could bear…

Leaving his Order was a bitter disappointment to the fervent novice, but he cherished a firm hope that his departure was only a temporary one… he turned to the busy world, though he could not stifle his deep regret at leaving the peaceful Retreat – a lifelong regret from which he was never afterwards separated.

Change of climate was considered the best remedy for Julian’s ill-health. Accordingly, after remaining a short time in London, where he enjoyed the friendship of Father Faber, he was sent to France, and soon became one of the professors at the Toulon College for Naval Cadets. It was here that his taste for geology and natural science developed itself…

Father Julian Tenison Woods

He made the acquaintance of the Marist Fathers… Mr Woods was not quite twenty-one when he entered the Marist Novitiate at Mont Bel… he was doomed to another disappointment; or rather, we may say he was intended for a different work…

Mr Woods became acquainted with Dr Willson, at that time on a visit to Europe…the good Bishop thought the time had come to make a venture in the cause he had so much at heart, the forming of a seminary as the foundation of a proper system of Catholic Education in the diocese [of the Island of Tasmania]…  now that he must again withdraw from a religious life he had some conversation with the Bishop on the subject. The result was that, after spending a few months in his brother’s house in London, he bade farewell to Europe and sailed with Dr Willson in the ‘Berenicia’ on 15 October 1854 for Hobarton.

His brother, Mr J.D. Woods, had gone out to Australia two years earlier and was settled in Adelaide.  Another brother, Edward, was preparing to go to Port Philip where the great goldfields had attracted a large population… But none of these things was the magnet which drew Julian Woods to the Southern Hemisphere.

The wide field of Missionary enterprise spread out before his view including schools, where along with the daily study of all that is best in secular education, children should be trained to know their religion thoroughly, and practise it properly…

This extract is taken from:

Chapters 2nd and 3rd of Julian Tenison Woods: A Life have been used with the kind permission of the Trustees of the Sisters of Saint Joseph 1997 and the publishers, St Paul’s Publications.

If you would like to read the full text, including an informative Introduction, footnotes and an index, this book is available online and from some Mary MacKillop Centres.

For locations and contact details visit the Josephite Books webpage.

Carmel Jones rsj

My Time at Penola

Sr Sue McGuinness was recently interviewed by an ABC Journalist about her time at Penola, South Australia.

The interview aired on Friday 21 February 2020 and was featured on the program called ‘Local Life’ on ABC South East SA (1476AM/1161AM).

You’re invited to listen to the interview below:




A Venture into Missionary Work

Vanimo, Papua New Guinea 1965

Fifty-eight years ago this month, four Sisters of St Joseph from Goulburn, New South Wales set out to undertake missionary work in the far north west of Papua New Guinea.

In 1960 the Franciscan bishop of Aitape asked the Passionist Fathers to take responsibility for missionary work in the north western part of his vast tropical diocese. Vanimo was the main centre in this region. Four Passionist priests and a brother arrived there on 10 March 1961 to commence ministry among the 45,000 people scattered throughout the region.

In 1962 the Australian Passionist Provincial, Father Charles Corbett, commenced negotiations with the Sisters of St Joseph of Goulburn to send a community of Sisters to staff the newly opened primary school in Vanimo and to work alongside the priests in the mission field. On Sunday 28 February 1965, four sisters – Sisters M Annette O’Loughlin, Andre Guthrie, Charles (Patricia) Ryan and Julian Hunter left Sydney for Vanimo.

Four days after their arrival and welcome to the Mission the Sisters took over the running of St Therese’s School, which in 1965 had 200 students enrolled including 35 boy boarders, aged between 6 and 16, from outlying districts too distant for them to attend school daily.

Convent in Vanimo PNG

As well as teaching in the school, the Sisters visited families in the villages, assisted in the medical clinic and trekked through jungle and across rivers to visit the mission outstations for catechetics and pastoral visitation. They organised classes for women and girls to encourage good nutrition and hygiene and set up opportunities for the women to attend dressmaking and cooking classes.

The Sisters of St Joseph of Perthville opened a mission in Suain in the Aitape Diocese in 1967. Following the formation of the Australian New Zealand Federation of Sisters of St Joseph each member Congregation agreed to try to have representation in these mission stations. From 1969 Tasmania provided Sisters to work in Vanimo, in 1977 Lochinvar made Sisters available for both Vanimo and Suain. From 1978 Wanganui made Sisters available to work in the missions. In 1980 the Federation Council took over responsibility for the missions in Papua New Guinea.

Sisters of St Joseph remained in ministry in Vanimo until the end of 1996. In total 23 Josephite Sisters lived and worked in Vanimo and surrounding areas and had their hearts captivated by its people. They had shared their simple life and faith, been challenged by climate, terrain and the vagaries of remote tropical living, and remained steadfast in imparting God’s Love within the developing Church of this missionary outpost in Papua New Guinea.

Laraine Crowe rsj


Images provided by Laraine Crowe rsj. Used with permission.