The Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart continue God’s mission by immersing themselves in the midst of life to empower others and bring hope.

Our Congregation, the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart, was founded in Penola, South Australia in 1866 by an Australian woman Mary Helen MacKillop and an English priest Reverend Julian Edmund Tenison Woods.

From the beginning Mary and Julian encouraged us to share the lives and the concerns of people with whom we minister. Held in God’s hospitable heart we draw strength to respond to places of violence, fear and insecurity in our world, the places of incompleteness and limitation in ourselves and in the spirit of our Founders we continue to meet the needs of our time. This can often mean responding to the ordinary everyday occurrences in peoples’ lives.

The Sisters of Saint Joseph were different from other religious congregations living in Australia during the late nineteenth century. The sisters lived in small groups of two or three in country areas often where there was no established Catholic Church structure.

Today there are over 600 Sisters of Saint Joseph living in communities in Australia, Aotearoa New Zealand, Ireland, Peru, Timor-Leste and Brazil. Our sisters are engaged in pastoral work as well as in professional roles which include teaching, administration, social services, law, psychology, nursing, aged care, community development, adult education and support for new arrivals in Australia and New Zealand.


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