Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart – Founded in Penola, South Australia 1866.

The Sisters of Saint Joseph are women who work in a simple ordinary way sharing in the mission of Jesus in the service of the poor through education and works of charity. Constitutions of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart

The story of the Australian and New Zealand Josephite Sisters reflects in many ways, the energy, harshness and challenge of the early years of the European development of Australia. It draws on the experience of our founder Father Julian Edmund Tenison Woods who visited the congregation of Sisters of Saint Joseph in Le Puy, France. Unlike some other Sisters of Saint Joseph, we were not founded from this group but in recent years have found much common language and vision.

Julian, born in Southwark, England in 1832 came out to Australia arriving in Tasmania in 1855. His education had been varied and rather eclectic and he spent some time in both the Passionist and Marist Congregations. He worked as a journalist and was as well both poet and scientist.  He was ordained in Adelaide in 1857 and given the parish of Penola in the south east of South Australia. It was there in 1860 that he met Mary MacKillop, an Australian, born of Scottish parents, while she was working as a governess in the district. Mary and Julian had a deep sense of call to respond to the needs of the isolated and uneducated children living in outback Australia.

There was no religious congregation able to respond to such widespread needs and the Spirit worked through these two very different yet equally passionate people, leading them to form a new and different religious order – the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart.