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Sesquicentenary Mass 2022

The Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Joseph was founded by Mary MacKillop and Father Julian Tenison Woods in 1866 in Penola, South Australia. Its’ first ministry 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 4 Sisters. By 1867 there were 10 Sisters and a school in Port Adelaide was opened. The following year, 1868, there were 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 moved to Brisbane, Queensland.

By 1872 there were 127 Sisters and 3 of them arrived in Bathurst in response to Bishop Matthew Quinn’s invitation to again 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. Sisters Teresa MacDonald, Joseph Dwyer and Hyacinth Quinlan, along with an enquirer, Ada Braham, arrived in Queen Charlotte Vale, now Perthville, on 16 July 1872.

The ministry of the Sisters grew and expanded into all 11 Dioceses in NSW. Throughout the journey of these past 150 years, with all its twists and turns, ups and downs, the grace of God has continued to meet the needs of the times through the ministry of the Sisters.

You are invited to gather in celebration and gratitude for the sesquicentenary of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart in New South Wales. The Mass will be offered exactly 150 years to the day, on 16 July 2022 at the Cathedral of St Michael & St John Bathurst at 10.30am.

In addition, to mark this event, the Bathurst Visitor Information Centre has partnered with the sisters to create the audio and visual tour App to share the history of the sisters and guide visitors through the Perthville Convent Heritage Centre. The App will be launched at 2:30pm on 16 July at the Perthville Convent. The story is being told so that visitors, now and for generations to come can, in person or virtually, to learn the fascinating history and achievements of this remarkable group of women and their life of service over 150 years. Saint Mary MacKillop and Fr Julian Tenison Woods, co-founders of the Sisters of Saint Joseph, are among the people featured.

The convent at Perthville has been a place to call home while Sisters travelled to surrounding villages and towns to set up other schools and convents. It is also a place of peace with over 200 Sisters laid to rest in the Sisters’ cemetery. Sisters of St Joseph celebrate the fact that they have lived and worked in city and county locations throughout NSW during the past 150 years.

The Sisters are hoping that many people will come and share this afternoon with them for the launch of the Audioguide App.

Jeanette Foxe rsj