Easter Greeting from the Congregational Leadership Team

Greetings from the CLT on this great feast of Easter.

The Congregational Leadership Team (CLT) have provided us with Blessings of comfort and joy this Easter.

Please take some time to listen to Sr Monica Cavanagh’s video message and read the Greetings below before reflecting:


The Whole Universe Moves Towards New Life

While there is a lower class I am in it…
While there is a soul in prison I am not free. Eugene V.Debs

In light of Holy Week and the COVID-19 pandemic are we being drawn to deeper listening and to see and experience the pain around us?

We are experiencing a global movement of compassion. To suffer with – even to death! So many things need to die in order to give rise to new life.

The joy of the resurrection is evident now as we recalibrate and “proclaim the year of God’s favour”. The world has not been responsive to the desperate plight of many people who are vulnerable, poor and in prison. The changes ahead will involve loss for many of us. Every person has an evolutionary impulse to be more and to love more.

So much of our language, our systems, our institutions are absolutely wrong. In Australia at least one third of adults and children in our prisons are on remand (not convicted of any offence), are being exposed, by their living conditions, to COVID-19. Prisoners in Australia do not have access to hand sanitisers and if they cannot afford to buy soap they will not have access to their basic hygiene needs. In Chicago and Louisiana recent data collection is showing that about seventy percent of people dying of COVID-19 are African American even though they are a minority in both areas. Aboriginal people in Australia are highly vulnerable and are likely to die if they contract COVID-19 as many have comorbidities, and, to our national shame, live in overcrowded and appalling housing conditions. The pandemic is a time for global transformation as the universe invites and moves all of us towards new life…

In 1667, during the Great Plague, Isaac Penington wrote to the Quaker community:

Our life is love, and peace, and tenderness; and bearing one with another, and forgiving one another, and not laying accusations one against another; but praying one for another, and helping one another up with a tender hand.Isaac Penington

For generations now countries all over the world have chosen economics over people. Systemic oppression, institutional poverty and racism are endemic. Is our local and global community being compelled by soul destroying conditions and injustice to join with Simon of Cyrene and accompany Jesus to Calvary?

We know that Jesus didn’t die to pay for our sins – Jesus died after choosing, with his life:

…to bring good news to those who are poor, to proclaim liberty to those held captive, recover the sight of the blind and release those in prison, and proclaim the year of God’s favour”.Luke 4:18

Kenise Neill rsj

Easter Reflections 2020

Easter provides us with a time to refocus our relationships with God.

The Daily Reflection series below is a great resource for daily meditation and prayer during Easter: one each for Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday.


Holy Thursday

Holy Thursday (PDF)


Good Friday

Good Friday (PDF)


Holy Saturday

Holy Saturday (PDF)


Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday (PDF)



Reflections provided by: Antoinette Baldwin rsj, Mary Dwyer rsj, Jean-Pierre Prévost (taken from Catholic Digest) and Margaret Gillespie rsj


Working Together to Manage Change and Transition

Australian families and communities have experienced significant change and loss following the drought, fires and floods that have defined 2020.

As the pandemic situation changes shape daily and we are required to adapt and change so rapidly, it is normal and natural for children, young people and adults to respond in unique and varied ways.

It is not surprising then, that some children, young people and adults may be finding it difficult to transition to home-based schooling and work, limited socialisation, and an upheaval of routine. Sometimes it is not until we move from the ‘doing’ to the ‘being’, that we recognise the impact of the change for ourselves and for others.

The impact of the uncertainty, change and loss can be felt in the present, and in the weeks, months and even years following, as individuals, families and communities make sense of what has happened, adjust to the changes, and recover and move forward toward a different future.

In the Seasons for Growth program run by Good Grief we use the metaphor of the ‘seasons’ to help children and young people understand the abstract experiences of change and loss.  The metaphor helps children and young people to understand the ‘ups and downs’ of life, that change will come and go (just like the seasons) and that no season lasts forever, not even winter.  The Seasons for Growth helps children and young people to recognise and adapt to stressful events as well as the ongoing challenges they may bring.  Good Grief supports local communities by training educators and health professionals to deliver Seasons for Growth in their local communities.

Children and young people rely on trusted adults to help manage transitions and so we have prepared an easy-to-read factsheet to support parents, carers and professionals:

Self-Care & Wellbeing: During Times of Uncertainty (PDF)

Please take a look at our Facebook page and the website for additional resources and email with any questions or suggestions if we can support you further.

Fiona McCallum
General Manager, Good Grief

Photo: Mother-and-son by cottonbro obtained from Pexels. Used with permission.

History of the Whanganui Sisters of Saint Joseph

A brief history of the Whanganui Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Joseph

Whanganui Awa (River)

Whanganui, Aotearoa New Zealand, is defined by its mighty Awa (river) which flows from the Central Mountains to the Tasman Sea. Along its length, Te Atihaunui-a-Paparangi (Whanganui people) have lived for 40 generations, and the river is an integral part of their lives.

The first Europeans arrived from England, Scotland and Ireland in the 1840s. Land purchases were negotiated with Whanganui Māori, and finalised in 1848. A military garrison was positioned in the town from 1846 until 1870 due to disturbances from the New Zealand Land Wars.

French Marist missionaries founded mission stations up and down the Awa, and also ministered to the newly arrived. The first Catholic church was built in 1857; the first Catholic school opened in 1866.

When Sisters Hyacinth Quinlan, Clare Rubie, Joseph Kinsella, and Teresa Schmidt arrived at the river wharf in the early hours of 24 April 1880, they were welcomed by the parish priest, Rev Dean Kirk, who with Bishop Redwood had invited them. They came from Perthville NSW, four years after the Diocesan Congregation had been formed. Their knowledge of the country and the Māori people was minimal. They were young, had come from a time of upheaval and estrangement in the Congregation, and were facing great expectations. Boarders for the school were ready and three women to join their community.

Sacred Heart Convent

In 1883, the Sisters were asked by Bishop Redwood to help start a school at Hiruhārama (Jerusalem) where the original Marist mission had lapsed during the troubled times on the river.  Sr Teresa Schmidt and Sr Aloysius Malone were to accompany a French woman, Suzanne Aubert, a nurse fluent in Te Reo (Māori language). The women travelled upriver in waka (canoes), staying in Māori settlements. They returned to Whanganui two years later. Suzanne Aubert went on to begin the first NZ Congregation – the Daughters of Our Lady of Compassion.

In 1885 a foundation was made in Hāwera, Taranaki, and in the following 25 years, seven convents and schools were begun. Land was sought for the growing Congregation and in 1912 Sacred Heart, a large three-story building, was opened on St John’s Hill in Whanganui. A Chapel which still stands was opened in 1918. Further foundations were made, mainly in the central and lower North Island.

The Sisters formalised their connections with the four Diocesan Congregations in Australia, with the Federation of the Australia-New Zealand Sisters of St Joseph in 1967. By the new millennia, each Congregation was going through its own processes of discernment. For the Whanganui Sisters there was much soul-searching until the decision in 2012 to request Fusion with the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart.  Fusion was granted in February 2013 and celebrated in Whanganui on 24 August 2013.

The journey of the Whanganui Sisters of Saint Joseph has had its ebbs and flows. Numbers have fallen, ministries changed, buildings demolished.  But just as the mighty Whanganui Awa flows onward, so also the charism continues to flow through all those who live the spirit of Saint Joseph.

Anne Burke rsj

So Small a Beginning: Part 1

Sr Marie Foale speaks about the beginnings of the Institute of St Joseph for the Catholic education of poor children.

She believes that as a young Josephite growing up, she had a sense that one day Mary MacKillop and Julian Tenison Woods had made a spontaneous decision to found an order.

Click here to continue reading

Reflection on Mary MacKillop

Sister Margaret Mary Sexton reflects on the humility and graciousness of Mother Mary MacKillop from Grey Lynn Aotearoa New Zealand in 1925.

Mother Mary had sufficiently staffed the school at Port Charmers so she returned to Arrowtown as ‘Little Sister’ and as both sisters were engaged in the school, the ‘Little Sister’ willingly and cheerfully undertook the cooking and general housework. It was her delight to have a comfortable lunch ready when they came in from school.  But in order to have the meals up to her standard she sometimes had to ask the lady next door for advice and assistance – especially when the flounder she was cooking fell to pieces. Her distress was so great that the lady came in and gave her a lesson in ‘frying flounder’ with the result that it was beautifully cooked.  Mother was as proud of her success as if she were cooking for the Queen instead of for two humble little professed novices. Extract from Memories of Mary by those who knew her – Sisters of St. Joseph 1925-1926, p. 81

Click here to continue reading

A Day in the Life: Spiritual Director

The Art of Spiritual Direction.

Lyndall Brown rsj

Just over twenty-five years ago whilst attending the Institute of Spiritual Leadership in Chicago my supervisor’s last words to me were; ‘Lyndall there is the Art of accompanying another and that is one’s natural gift and the skills are what you learn along the way.’ I often recall the wisdom of those words. The call to the ministry of Spiritual Accompaniment began for me with a stirring deep within to journey with others in their search for authenticity and a desire to grow into the fullness of their beings. It flowed from my own search for the Mystery of Life hidden in my own journey and the thirst I had for the Sacred.

Over the years I frequently return to two images that honour this ministry for me. The image of being a Guest into the depths of another’s life highlights for me the invitation, the privilege to listen, to attend to, and to marvel at the person’s openness and trust in their exploration of their journey. The Directee is like a host to me offering a hospitable presence which is reciprocated with sensitivity, gratitude and genuine acceptance.

I often also see my Ministry of Spiritual Direction through the lens of a Mid-wife. Sometimes the journey into transformation of the other, letting go of old ways, opening to the new, patiently waiting for light to shine through confusion and pain calls me to be present with hope and an ability to wait for the emergence of new life.

The words of Thomas Merton resonate with me as I invite the one being accompanied to go deeper, to discover an inner freedom and ultimately experience the Sacred in the mystery of their own becoming.

The whole purpose of spiritual direction is to penetrate beneath the surface of a person’s life, to get behind the façade of conventional gestures and attitudes which one presents to the world, and to bring out one’s inner spiritual freedom, one’s inmost truth, which is what [Christians] call the likeness of Christ in one’s soul. Thomas Merton, Trappist monk, USA
The Emergence of New Life

I feel gifted in the opportunities for life that being a Spiritual Director has offered me. Once when moving from one place of Ministry to another a young mother said to me; ‘My children will be eternally grateful to you!’ On many occasions I find myself being personally challenged as I listen to the unfolding of another’s life. I come away from many encounters being inspired to live differently, and to be more attentive to life through the lens of the Sacred.

Over the years I have ministered at Retreat Centres in both Wellington and Mission Bay Auckland. I am now embarking on a ministry amongst the people of South Canterbury. It has always been my dream to minister in Spirituality in a rural area. I take with me the memory, wisdom and gifts received along the way open to receiving more gifts from those I minister among.

Lyndall Brown rsj