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This July the Sisters of Saint Joseph will celebrate 150 years of the congregation’s presence in NSW since their arrival in Perthville in 1872. To mark the historic event an audio app outlining their history has been created. The app will be launched on Saturday afternoon, July 16, following a morning Sesquicentenary Mass being held at the Catholic Cathedral, led by Bishop Michael McKenna. The Mass will be followed by a light lunch in the Cathedral Hall, where everyone is welcome. Sr Alice Sullivan, who has been part of the app’s creation said the Mass will be celebrated at 10.30am, and following lunch in the Cathedral Hall, the Perthville Heritage Centre will be open for visitors from 2pm for the 2.30pm launch of the audio app of the site. She said the event was an opportunity to recognise the 150-year contribution made by the Sisters of Saint Joseph. She said the congregation had strong links to the region. “The Congregation of the Sisters of St Joseph was founded by Mary MacKillop and Father Julian Tenison in 1866 in Penola, South Australia.

“The first ministry of the congregation was the opening of a school for all the children of that small distant town. The education being offered was an important step in breaking the cycle of poverty that had trapped so many of the children’s parents, struggling to make a go of it in the pioneering times of colonial Australia. By the end of that first year, there were four sisters.” By 1867, there were 10- sisters and a school in Port Adelaide was opened. The following year in 1868, there were about 50 sisters ministering in 13 different towns in South Australia and responding as the various needs arose. In 1869 the rapid increase continued and the sisters expanded their ministry to Brisbane. In 1872, there were 127 sisters, and at the invitation of Bishop Matthew Quinn, three of them arrived in Bathurst to open schools for poor children who were deprived of an education. Bishop Quinn decided that a small village was the place for them to begin, and sisters Teresa MacDonald, Joseph Dwyer and Hyacinth Quinlan, along with an enquirer Ada Braham, arrived in July 1872 in what is now known as Perthville. The ministry of the Sisters has continued to grow and has expanded into all 11 dioceses across the state.

Sr Anne Porter, said she and the NSW Regional Leadership tea, extended a warm welcome to the community to attend the Sesquicentenary Mass. Following the Mass, the launch of the audio guide for the St Joseph’s Heritage and Conference Centre will take place at 2.30pm. Sr Alice said the modern technology will “enhance the experience of visiting the museum and the significance of the site.” Those wishing to attend the event are asked to RSVP as soon as possible for catering purposes. Please contact Sr Berenice Cornish rsj on 0418 681 949 or email


Courtesy of the Western Advocate

Current Sisters of Saint Joseph include Mary Cluney, Janine Keatinge and Irene Macinante