St Joseph’s Perthville: School, College, House

St Joseph’s Perthville: School, College, House.

Artist impression of first purpose built Convent at Perthville

This book by Dr Marie Crowley is the long-awaited history of education carried out by the Sisters of Saint Joseph at Perthville. The book begins with an examination of the beginnings of the first small school established in 1872. It then traces the development of St Joseph’s College – a highly respected boarding College for girls who, for the most part, lived in rural New South Wales. The concluding chapters recount the final years of St Joseph’s when it served as St Joseph’s House – the boarding facility for MacKillop College, Bathurst. That facility finally closed its doors at the conclusion of 2017.

This book complements the three published works by Dr Crowley dealing with the history of the Sisters of Saint Joseph at Perthville: Women of The Vale, Except In Obedience and A Priceless Treasure. From the opening paragraph she brings to the history her skill and scholarship, providing a clear background to the many developments and changes that occurred at St Joseph’s over a period of 145 years. The difficulties involved in welding together the three stages of education at Perthville – School, College and House – have been skilfully handled resulting in a coherent, chronological presentation.

Threading together every word and paragraph of this book is the special attention Dr Crowley gives to the Sisters of Saint Joseph. Describing them as the ‘life blood’ of the entire Perthville establishment, she highlights their generosity and fidelity in the face of extreme poverty, their hard work in the School and the boarding College, their expertise in teaching and their spirit of friendship. The spirit in which the Sisters accepted the many changes to the College is sensitively presented throughout the book, as are their efforts to maintain the College and House in the face of overpowering difficulties.

St Joseph’s Perthville: School, College, House will be launched at 11am on Saturday, 21 March 2020 at St Joseph’s Heritage and Conference Centre, Perthville.

Dr Marie Crowley

International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples 2019

The United Nations General Assembly adopted a Resolution on ‘Rights of Indigenous Peoples’, proclaiming 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages.

The International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is observed on August 9 each year to promote and protect the rights of the original inhabitants of any given region. There are an estimated 370 million indigenous people in the world, living across 90 countries. They make up less than 5 per cent of the world’s population, but account for 15 per cent of the poorest. They speak an overwhelming majority of the world’s estimated 7,000 languages and represent 5,000 different cultures.

Celebrate this day and give thanks for the wisdom and spirituality of our indigenous peoples all around the globe!

Visit the ‘International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples’ Website

Mary MacKillop Today Crowdfunding Campaign

Help give 200 children in Fiji the tools to learn!

Mary MacKillop Today has partnered with Child Benefit to support the Mobile Kindy program in Fiji.

Our aim is to provide access to high quality and inclusive early childhood education in the informal settlements around Suva. Mary MacKillop Today is launching a crowdfunding campaign on 8 August with the hope of raising $15,000 which will provide 200 children with the tools to learn.


  • $10 will give one child a hygiene kit,
  • $25 will give 30 children nutritional lunches for 1 week and
  • only $48 will give one child an educational resource kit.

Join us in honouring Mary MacKillop’s legacy and passion for education by sharing and pledging to our campaign:

Donate to the Mary MacKillop Today Crowdfunding Campaign

For more information visit our Fiji projects and the Facebook page for the Mobile Kindy.

Thank you!

Saint Mary MacKillop Feast Day 2019

Greetings on the feast of Saint Mary MacKillop.

As we celebrate Mary MacKillop’s feast day, let us celebrate how she was a woman who raised the powers of love in her time and continues to inspire us to do the same in our day.  Love was at the heart of all that Mary did. She recognised that the source of her love had its origin in God. She knew deeply within her that:

God is love and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.
1 John 4:16

From this spiritual source she drew the energy to be a heartbeat of God’s love in the world especially for those most disadvantaged in our society.

Mary loved all with an undivided heart. As Pope John Paul II said during his 1995 visit to Australia for her beatification:

Mother Mary’s life speaks eloquently because it was firmly anchored in something for which every human heart longs: inner peace, that peace that comes from knowing that one is loved by God and from the desire to respond to God’s love. [1]Pope John Paul II – 20.1.1995

Hers was a spirituality of the heart, holding in balance a contemplative stance with a concern for justice. Mary entered the mystery of God’s love and allowed herself to be transformed by it in order to assist the voiceless to find their voice. Mary was indeed a woman who remained grounded in the reality of life, and through all her experiences learnt to ‘act justly, love tenderly and to walk humbly with God’ (Micah 6:8). She rolled up her sleeves, got her hands dirty and responded to the cries of those who struggled in life.

An example of how Mary MacKillop raised the power of love occurred when Mary and Sister Helena McCarthy were on their way to the city. Sister Helena shared this story. “We were waiting at the corner of the Street near Mount Street Post Office for a tram. A young woman came staggering along and at last reached and rested by the stone wall on the side of the footpath. I naturally thought the woman was intoxicated, but Mother’s quick eye detected something more serious. She said to me ‘Come along, dear and see what is wrong with this poor woman.’  On getting up to her we found the woman was very ill.  Mother asked if she could do anything for her. The woman said if she could get to the chemist’s nearby, she knew what would relieve her. The three of us then went to the chemist’s where the patient was attended to and we waited until she felt better”. [2]

On this feast day let us, like Mary MacKillop, be women and men who raise the powers of love. Recently I was having a cup of coffee with one of our sisters and I asked her what she had been doing. She replied that she had just come from a meeting of ‘Grandmothers Against Detention of Refugee Children’. Their work is based around the safety and protection for innocent children living in the experience of detention centres. On another day, I visited the office of the Sisters of Saint Joseph Congregational Administration Centre to find the staff knitting over lunch. They told me that they were joining others around our country who belong to the organisation ‘Wrap with Love’. Joining in movements such as these is one way of continuing to give expression to Mary MacKillop’s vision for living the Gospel.

On this feast day may you be inspired like Saint Mary MacKillop to make a difference in someone’s life by raising the powers of love through an act of everyday kindness.

May your day be filled with the joy and love that filled the heart of Saint Mary MacKillop.

Sr Monica Cavanagh rsj
Congregational Leader

[1] Pope John Paul II, 20 January 1995 at Beatification ceremony Randwick
[2] Sister Helena McCarthy – Memories of Mary by those who knew her p 71, 2010

A Day in the Life: Josephite Associate

The Vocation of being a Josephite Associate.

From being educated in Josephite schools and spending nearly 40 years as an educator in them I have truly been immersed in Josephiteness! I can’t recall who invited me along to an Associates’ gathering; I just seemed to slide into this movement and have remained deeply involved ever since.

To have a vocation is to have a mission in life, an inclination to follow a particular path. From a young age I felt drawn to teaching. Being a teacher in Catholic schools provided me with opportunities to deepen my own faith as I shared my knowledge and belief with the children I was teaching and through my involvement in school and parish life.

When I became an Associate, this added a further dimension and focus to my faith life. It provided me with the opportunity to meet and share my Catholic faith with others, enabling me to become more aware of Mary MacKillop’s story and learn about her legacy through the sisters who continued this legacy through their lives of commitment and service. Being a Josephite Associate has given me a sense of belonging, of feeling connected to like-minded people who share a spirituality that gives me focus and energy. There is great value in being surrounded and supported by others, both sisters and Associates, who share a common bond, namely that of living the Gospel with a Josephite Heart.

This connectedness has allowed to arise other opportunities that have given meaning and sustenance to my life and faith and have enabled me to feel valued and able to contribute to the wider Josephite story and so, ‘to further the reign of God’ (Associates’ Mission Statement). My involvement made it possible for me to develop my skills in leadership within SA Associates and beyond; it has helped to shape my contribution and leadership in schools in the Josephite tradition so as to ensure that those communities came to know and hopefully be inspired by the example of Mary MacKillop. In later years I have also felt drawn to become further immersed in the Josephite story through becoming a Covenant Josephite.

Now as a part of our International Josephite Associate Leadership Team (IJALT) I am very aware of the privilege and responsibility that I and others who are Associates have in enabling others to know and share in the Josephite charism. I feel strongly that I carry this tradition in my heart and the challenge for me is to make a difference in the lives of others because of it and to assist our Associates to recognize this gift within themselves.

Two years ago I was invited to travel to Peru to meet up with Associates there. At that time, one of the Associates from Lima was the person who took Mary’s story to a distant town and showed me how, from that encounter an Associate group was established. Prior to Maria’s going there, no sisters had been to Cajabamba. It was Maria who carried the story and shared the charism in a new place to enable others to share in it. Happenings such as this provide me with the impetus to keep encouraging Associates to know that we too can make a difference. I truly have been blessed to be ‘caught up in the Josephite net’!

As Josephite Associates we respond to the call to live the charism of Mary MacKillop in our daily lives in our own unique way. We support one another by friendship, prayer and service to make a difference in our local area and so further the reign of God. Josephite Associate Mission Statement

Mary Hemmings

Find out more about Josephite Associates here

Fr Julian: Man of Words – Letter Seven

Have you ever been into a large underground cave? This month Father Julian invites us to share his experience of exploring the caves of Mosquito Plains, near Naracoorte, South Australia in 1857.

Of all the natural curiosities a country can possess, none tend so much to render it famous as the existence of large caves. There is such an air of mystery in the idea of long subterraneous passages and gloomy passages shut out from light and life; so little is known of their origin, and they are generally accompanied with such beautiful embellishments of nature, that one is never tired of seeing them or of hearing the description of those that cannot be visited.Father Julian Tenison Woods

These are the opening words of an article written by Father Julian Tenison Woods and published in the South Australian Register in 1858. [i] Subsequently this article was published in full by the Perth Gazette [ii] and The Argus. [iii] Other newspapers published the first half of the article [iv] and omitted the description of the fossil bones that he found in these caves. This article then formed part of a chapter in his book Geological Observations in South Australia: Principally in the District South-East of Adelaide.[v]

Father Julian’s words came alive for me during a visit to the Blanche Cave at Naracoorte. Here I was able to give context to quotations often cited with reference to Father Julian’s awareness of God in the creation around him and which are contained in the final section of his article, for example:

…man, pausing in his vain endeavour to stretch his mind to the capacity of that which has no bounds, is obliged to rest himself from the thought of the infinite, and confess that whether he searches in earth, or sky, or sea, he is everywhere met by the vision of the Illimitable.Father Julian Tenison Woods

Today Father Julian’s words remain a reference for those who continue to uncover the secrets of the caves. [vi]

Carmel Jones rsj

This month we present The Caves at Mosquito Plains (from the South Australian Register):

View ‘The Caves at Mosquito Plains’ here (PDF)


[i] South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA:1839-1900), Monday 29 March 1858, page 3 obtained from
[iv] E.g.,,
[v] Woods, J.E.T. Geological observations in South Australia: principally in the district south-east of Adelaide, London: Longman, Green, Longman, Roberts & Green, 1862
[vi]  Follow these links for some very interesting articles on the Naracoorte Caves: and
Reed, Elizabeth & Bourne, Steven. (2013). ‘OLD’ CAVE, NEW STORIES: THE INTERPRETATIVE EVOLUTION of BLANCHE CAVE, NARACOORTE, SOUTH AUSTRALIA. Journal of the Australasian Cave and Karst Management Association.

Excursion to Mary MacKillop Place

Boundless, a young adults group from the Northern Suburbs of Sydney, recently visited Mary MacKillop Place, North Sydney to learn more about Saint Mary MacKillop.

With Saint Mary MacKillop’s Feast Day approaching on 8 August, I thought it was a great opportunity to organise and invite members of my young adults group ‘Boundless’ to an excursion to Mary MacKillop Place.

Click here to continue reading

Sainthood Comes in Moments

This month of August, during which we celebrate the 110th anniversary of Saint Mary MacKillop’s death, is a timely reminder that all of us are called to be saints – here and now!  Mary understood this – and her entire life reflected this understanding.

In 1870, as an earnest 28 year-old, Mary shared her insights about living saints with her ‘own dear Mamma’:

…Do you try now in real earnest to be a saint?  You may smile at my question, but our dear good God wants you to be one! I used to think it the height of presumption to desire such a thing, but have been taught that such diffidence is not humility…Mary MacKillop to her mother Flora – 10 September 1870

Little could the youthful Mary have every imagined that she would become Australia’s first canonised saint so many years later!

In this month’s reflection from the Little Brown Book Too, the authors, Sue and Leo Kane, provide us with another reminder that Earth is meant to be full of living saints, and that our ‘Sainthood comes in moments’.

Love one another and bear with one another and let love guide you in all your life.Mary MacKillop 1909

Sister Ethelberga, Mary’s nurse, said of her: ‘I never knew her to speak an unkind word to anybody. Neither would she permit any Sister to do so in her hearing.’

As we go about our days, we teach, not so much by preaching lessons, as by the way we are in this world. Our way of seeing things and people will come through in our responses. Mary knew this instinctively:

We must teach more by example than by word.Mary MacKillop 1867

A very young Sister Laurence (who later became the third Superior General of the Sisters) once said to Mary: “Mother,  I think you are especially kind to people who give you trouble and worry.” “Ah, you little rogue!” was the lovely reply of a compassionate and human Mary.

Sainthood comes in moments: of gentleness, of humour, of kindness, of times when we choose to do the loving thing.  And for our ‘companions on the journey’, such moments help to keep their hope alive.

If we love one another, God lives in us…1 John 4:12

The above is an extract from The Little Brown Book Too (pages 32-33)

© Sue and Leo Kane 2011. Introduction Mary Ryan rsj.

Used with the kind permission of the publishers, St Paul’s Publications

Available online and from some Mary MacKillop Centres.

Download the print version of this reflection (PDF)

Photo: ‘Sainthood comes in moments’ by Mary Ryan rsj. Used with permission.