Pathways into Josephite Community and Commitment

Pathway surrounded by fir trees by James Wheeler.

National Vocations Awareness Week: 4-11 August 2019

Years ago, a young aboriginal boy, overhearing a conversation in our Josephite kitchen asked, “What’s a Chapter?” A sister replied, ‘It’s a kind of Nun’s Parliament!’ Though we chuckled, his question struck a chord and pushed us to a fuller, more reflective explanation:

A Chapter is about deep listening to the Holy Spirit and to one another, asking questions about our identity, harnessing our energies for God’s Mission and finding new ways to bring our Charism alive.

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Pathways into Josephite Community and Commitment

Josephite Immersion and Discernment Journey provided by the Trustees of the Sisters of Saint Joseph. Used with permission.

Read more about ‘Ways of Commitment’ here

Religious Life in a Time of a Paradigm Shift

National Vocations Awareness Week: 4-11 August 2019

Religious Life is evolving in a Context of a Paradigm Shift.

For me, Religious life has been a fulfilling, challenging, stretching, disillusioning, confusing, enlightening and personally transforming journey of the gradual discovery of the meaning of living to my full potential this ‘one wild and precious life’ [1] that I have been given. The phrase, ‘a vocation to Religious Life,’ when I joined the Josephites in the early 60’s meant to me the ‘giving of my whole self to God and to what matters to God’. The gospel call of justice for all peoples seemed simple and clear and with youthful enthusiasm, joy and trust I ventured forth with many others to be a gospel witness and to make a difference. Maybe in that attitude there was a hint of seeming arrogance of which I was completely ignorant at the time!

Behold, Vatican 2 Council (1961 – 64) called for Renewal in the whole of the Catholic Church including the renewal of Religious Congregations! This initiated us into the beginning of a paradigm shift in how we understood our Christian story, church, mission and religious life in a wholly different way. The Church and therefore Religious Life was now seen to be IN the Modern World not apart from it. Again, with youthful confidence I, with many others, became involved in Renewal Groups, new Catechetical approaches, justice and peace groups, theology courses/degrees and social justice action.

It turned out to be a journey of over 55 years where the new horizons and renewal could be described as bringing both ‘light and darkness’. In a paradigm shift everything changes. Reaction to the changes in society, Church and Religious Congregations soon became evident. The ministry of sisters was more concentrated on the individual’s passion and gifts as a response to the seen ‘need’ rather than belonging together as a group of sisters in a school or other mission. Sisters and others experimented in ways to be an ‘intentional community’ for mission. Others found their passion in justice ministry, pastoral ministry, spirituality ministry, administrative ministry, rural ministry and others. Sister-companions left to follow the gospel call in a different way, priests argued to have the option of marriage, young people explored other spiritualities or found the Church not relevant to their lives and most challenging of all the acknowledgement eventually came of Church cover-ups of Priest child abuse. I wavered, like many others, from certainty to uncertainty, trust to doubt and experienced the call of courage to stay in the ‘shadow’ or darkness where transformation often takes place. As the Psalmist says: ‘To God the light and darkness are the same’.

Katrina Brill rsj

Continue reading article here:

Religious Life in a Paradigm Shift

Beyond the Crossroads Book by Amy Hereford, CSJ, JD, JCD might be of interest

Photo by Ulrike Mai obtained from Pixabay. Used with permission.

In Search for A New Vocation Pathway

National Vocations Awareness Week: 4-11 August 2019

Vocation is the place where the world’s greatest need and a person’s greatest joy meet.
Frederick Buechner

As I reflect on my discernment journey as a Covenant Josephite, I have come to realise that God’s call in my life manifested itself through my desire to respond to the needs I see in the world and my practical and joyful capacity in doing so. It is not simply a call to a way of life that only God wants for me, but also a way of life that I so desire. In this covenant relationship with God, I see myself as mutually responsible to the commitment that we (God and I) have both made.  Affiliation with the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart has helped me to remain focused on God’s call for mission and be guided by the charism of Mary MacKillop in my everyday life.  In my view, I believe it is by God’s providence that the Sisters of Saint Joseph are available to support this new pathway.

Cecilia King, Covenant Josephite

A question that I get asked often is why not either choose a vowed life or simply choose a single/married life? Why Covenant Josephite? Traditionally within the Catholic Church we are given an either-or choice. Those who are called to become vowed religious live in a separate community that is distinguished from those who are single or married.  The vocation of a single or married life is often seen as a half-hearted devotion to God’s mission due to other life commitments.  However, I believe that one can still fully devote oneself to God’s mission and bring it to other aspects of life whole-heartedly. For many Catholics it seemed difficult to comprehend a calling to fully devote one’s life without living in the conformity of a vowed religious life.  As a result, I have found that spiritual formation, ministry and discernment support are often lacking for single and married people.  With a heart that desires a deepening of my relationship with God, I began my discernment journey in 2009. After several failed attempts in finding a congregation that has a place for the vocation that God has whispered into my heart, I gradually came to know of the Sisters of Saint Joseph where a new vocation pathway called “Covenant Josephite” was shown to me. Through the support of a discernment guide and a discernment team that offered me the opportunity to explore with an open heart all possible pathways, I came to recognise my place as a Covenant Josephite and made my first commitment in 2016. Since then, the discernment journey has not ended but rather continued in a challenging way as God continues to lead me into a life that I have not planned for myself.

What does it mean to be a Covenant Josephite? This is a question I try to be mindful of everyday, before making a decision and for every circumstance in my work, social and family life, thus furthering the guidance of Mary MacKillop to, “Never see a need without doing something about it.”

What is the need in this very moment that is calling me, and will I be joyful in my response to it? In discerning my answer to this question, I believe is the place for my vocation.

Cecilia King


Photo of Winding Road Travel by JanBaby obtained from Pixabay. Used with permission.

Fairtrade Fortnight 2019

Ethica and Fair Trade.

This year, Fairtrade Fortnight is held from 2 to 15 August. In Australia, the Fair-Trade market is small but growing. Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of how poverty can be reduced by buying ethically made fair trade products.

Fairtrade Fortnight gives us the chance to highlight the importance of choosing to buy fair trade whenever possible. To make the switch and make a difference in the lives of so many people. We can do it every day, starting each morning when we buy our cup of coffee – imagine the impact if we all had fair trade coffee and of course in your keep cup!

The majority of our artisan groups in Peru are from remote and rural areas where women have few opportunities to earn an income. Women are being educated, are helping their families, are leading by example for their children and are passing the rich traditions of skills and artistry from one generation of women to the next.

Ethicas commitment to the 10 principles of fair trade means our products:

  1. Provide opportunities for the women who create them
  2. Illustrate the fairness of our business practices through our long-term relationships
  3. Do not use any kind of child labour or forced labour
  4. Are produced in safe working conditions
  5. Advocate for and promote Fair trade
  6. Demonstrate accountability and transparency
  7. Are purchased at a fair price mutually agreed on with artisans
  8. Are free from discrimination based on ethnicity, gender or discrimination of any kind
  9. Are part of a wider commitment to the community through our grants scheme
  10. Are kind to the planet by minimising packaging.

Fair Trade means what you buy matters. By choosing Fair Trade products, you are making a difference in the lives of the people who make them.

When you buy an ethica product, our products have a card with the name of the person that made it.

Buy better, buy quality, buy fair trade – all these things can make a huge difference. Let’s all create more awareness and have a real impact in the world we want to live in.

As Emma Watson said:

It’s a small miracle that we as consumers can participate in a process that is keeping skills and communities alive.Emma Watson

Gina Bradley
National Manager

Saint Mary MacKillop’s Feast Day 2019

Join us at Mary MacKillop Place, North Sydney on Thursday 8 August 2019 to celebrate the Feast Day of Saint Mary MacKillop.

Mary MacKillop Place is a site unlike any other because Australia’s first Saint, Mary MacKillop, lived, died and is buried here.

On 8 August each year, several thousand people come in pilgrimage to Mary MacKillop Place to honour St Mary of the Cross MacKillop in the celebration of Mass, by praying at her Tomb, and by sharing food and hospitality.

We invite you to join with us and other Pilgrims as we honour Mary MacKillop in a special way on 8 August, 2019.

Please find below, all the information you need to know:

Mass times: 8am (Mary MacKillop Memorial Chapel), 10am and 1pm (on Glen Roy Green (William Street entrance)

Chapel opening time: 8:30am to 4pm
(The Chapel will be open for private prayer and visits to Mary MacKillop’s tomb)

Museum opening time: 8:30am to 4pm
(On Feast Day, Mary MacKillop Place offers free admission to the Museum so that pilgrims may explore the story of St Mary and the foundation of the Sisters of Saint Joseph)

Gift Shop & Café opening time: 8am to 4pm

Entry to Mary MacKillop Place: 80 William Street, North Sydney

Wheelchair access: via the green gates, 7 Mount Street, North Sydney

There will be Mary MacKillop memorabilia and clothing stalls (including ethica wares) you’re invited to purchase throughout the day. Food and beverage stalls will also be in operation.

Public transport is recommended as parking in the area will be scarce. Click here for further directions.

After much planning and preparation on site, and hard work by Sisters, staff and volunteers, we look forward to welcoming you! You’re invited to share this event with your family and friends.

Flyer for St Mary MacKillop Feast at Mary MacKillop Place (PDF)

Avoiding Foolishness

Elaine Wainwright says that human centredness can distort our capacity to recognise that Earth’s resources belong to all life.

The major feasts in our liturgical year are behind us and “ordinary time” stretches ahead until the celebration of the Universal or Cosmic Christ on 24 November. Each week we will read the Gospel of Luke which has the potential to draw us into new ecological perspectives.

Luke 12:13-21 on first reading is human-centred: divide the family inheritance with me; I will pull down my barns and build larger ones; and many other examples. This is something we can relate to. But in Laudato Si’ Pope Francis warns against modern anthropocentrism as one aspect which makes us unaware of our effect on Earth.

Human-centredness characterises the world view of the Graeco-Roman world, namely that the head of the Roman household had power over and ownership of both the people and property belonging to that household. This plays out in the story. The first human character we meet (Lk 12:13) wants Jesus to intervene in a dispute over a share in the family inheritance. Jesus’s reply: “for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions”, is preceded by warnings: “take care”, “be on your guard”. Jesus is critiquing the prevailing world view where property and possessions were considered to be “owned” by the head of the household…

Continue reading the article below:

Tui Motu Issue 240, August 2019 (PDF)


Elaine Wainwright is a biblical scholar specialising in eco-feminist interpretation and is currently writing a Wisdom Commentary on Matthew’s Gospel.
Painting: The Man Who Hoards by James Tissot. Brooklyn Museum.

World Day Against Trafficking in Persons 2019

Migrant Workers and Labour Hire Firms.

Migrant workers are vital to our meat processing workforce in Australia, helping to ensure affordable cost and convenience for us as we pick up our meats from supermarkets and butchers. In 2017 the AMIEU uncovered a culture of bullying, intimidation and harassment by labour hire firms in the Tamworth area. Migrant workers were forced to stay in specific vermin infested accommodation with 15-20 people in each house. Guaranteed employment included a non-refundable $500 bond to the labour hire agent. Anybody who dared to complain would be blackballed and not rostered to work. Women were also sexually harassed.

We, as consumers, have the right to challenge our grocery food outlets to know if their supply chain in the meats, produce, dairy and seafood are slavery free.

On 30 July, World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, let us pray for children, women and men who are working in slave-like situations, so that they are:

Slaves no more but Brothers and Sisters in Christ.Pope Francis

Margaret Ng rsj

Find out more about ‘World Day Against Trafficking in Persons’ on the United Nations website

Approval of Josephite Federation 1967

Journey of the Josephite Federation.

First Federation Executive

The approval of the Josephite Federation came in the form of a Decree of Establishment from the Sacred Congregation of Religious given in Rome on 28 July 1967, in response to the request made by the Congregations of the Sisters of Saint Joseph situated in Perthville, Diocese of Bathurst; Goulburn, Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn; Lochinvar, Diocese of Maitland; New Town, Archdiocese of Hobart and Whanganui, Archdiocese of Wellington for the establishment of a Federation.

The establishment of the Josephite Federation was a long and at times frustrating journey of fifty years. To understand this journey, it is necessary to know something of the history of the Diocesan Josephite Institutes. They had been recognised by the 1888 Decree of Propaganda as distinct from the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart. It had stated that those Diocesan Institutes which shall be distinct from the regular congregation, shall make some change in the habit and the rule and shall be approved by their respective bishops. Though originating from the same founders, Fr Julian Tenison Woods and Saint Mary MacKillop and sharing the same charism, they were different in their governing structures, being dependent on the various Ordinaries.

From the foundation at Perthville in 1872, numbers of young Sisters moved to distant places: to Whanganui (1880), Goulburn (1882), Lochinvar (1883) and Tasmania (1887). Having no on-going contact with each other (except through letters), they became isolated both by distance and commitment to their diocesan ministries.

The question of amalgamation was raised intermittently over the years. In the 1920s, on two occasions, Cardinal Cerretti, the Apostolic Delegate to Australia and New Zealand spoke of some kind of union without kindling any interest among the Sisters. The Archbishop of Wellington suggested that the Whanganui Sisters renew acquaintance with the original foundation with a view to amalgamation.

In the 1930s, Mother Aquin of Lochinvar wrote, with the support of Mother Benedict Seymour of Goulburn, to the major superiors regarding union. With her letter she included a detailed plan of how such a union might work.

She wrote:

Doubtless each Community feels that it is doing what, with God’s help, it can in its own Diocese but should we be satisfied to stay at that and not aim at a united strength and solidarity which should fit the Institute in the future to do so much more ably the work for which it was founded and to secure its integrity for the time to come? Yet the years are slipping away and the gaps are necessarily widening…..

Mother Aquin

Much to the disappointment of Mothers Aquin and Benedict, the plan was dismissed by the other Diocesan Institutes (mostly because they lacked the support of their Bishops) and union became a closed subject. Subsequently, the Goulburn and Lochinvar congregations applied for and received, in 1962 and 1963 respectively, final approbation as Pontifical rather than Diocesan Institutes.

In the 1950s, Pope Pius X11 provided the impetus to revisit the issue of union. His Apostolic Constitution Sponsa Christi and the congress of international major superiors, had urged congregations of women religious to update their customs and to move towards unions or federations. The major superiors of the Diocesan Josephite Institutes responded to this directive and met several times to discuss matters of common interest including the possibility of some form of amalgamation.

In 1964, Mother Adrian from New Zealand wrote seeking discussion and with the advent of a new Bishop in the Bathurst Diocese the way forward was emerging. With the publication of Perfectæ Caritatis, the Second Vatican Council’s decree on religious life, the case for some kind of union was mounting. In 1965 the five Diocesan Josephite leaders met together at Perthville for the first time since their meeting in 1928 at the Eucharistic Congress. The defining meeting was held on 11 September 1965, at the Goulburn Sisters’ house in Neutral Bay when sixteen Sisters representing the five Diocesan Institutes made the decision to form a Federation. Interim office bearers were elected, Statutes were drawn up and the request to establish the Federation was sent to Rome for approval.

The much-longed for approval came in the form of a Decree of Establishment from the Sacred Congregation of Religious. The Sisters of the Diocesan Institutes rejoiced to read:

…. this same Sacred Congregation, solicitous for the spiritual and temporal welfare of the same Institutes, having maturely weighed everything that concerns the matter, approves and confirms the Federation with the title, Australian-New Zealand Federation of Sisters of Saint Joseph and likewise the proposed text of the Statutes, in a way, however, that each Congregation of the Federation included remains in its own present juridical state ….

After a long journey and many anxious moments, the Australian-New Zealand Federation of Sisters of Saint Joseph had become a reality. In the subsequent years Sisters from the five congregations of the Federation enjoyed decades of support, collaboration in ministry and above all, treasured friendships.

Maureen Salmon rsj


Source: Material drawn from The Federation Story compiled by Marie T Kelly rsj, 1997
Images provided by Sr Maureen Salmon. Used with permission.