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Welcome to Country by Wiradyuri Elders. (prior to the Mass)

Sisters of St Joseph in the Cathedral

“We have cause to be grateful for God has done much for us” Mary MacKillop 1890

On 16 July 2022, the Sisters of Saint Joseph gathered in the Cathedral of St Michael and St John, Bathurst to celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving to mark the Sesquicentenary of the arrival of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart from Adelaide to New South Wales. They arrived in Perthville (10 miles from Bathurst) on 16 July 1872.

The celebration began with a stirring and inspiring Welcome to Country by Wiradyuri Elders that so fittingly ritualized their visionary statement ‘We give thanks for the past so we can look to the future’.

This was the theme of the liturgy as there has been much for which to be grateful over the past 150 years – hundreds of dedicated Sisters working in schools, tertiary institutions, hospitals, aged care, parishes and in spiritual support, social justice and formation throughout the 11 Dioceses of NSW.

Bishop Michael McKenna concelebrated with Archbishop Patrick O’Regan and priests and deacons from near and far. The lively spirit of gratitude and friendship was buoyant in the congregation of over 350 friends, Josephite Companions, ministry partners and families who joined with the nearly 100 Sisters from across NSW, Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania, making this a very special and historic liturgy. The music by the Cathedral choir, Men’s choir and the Wattle Flat string group was uplifting and, after so long with Covid restrictions, it was soul-stirring to sing together and be carried by the gift of music.

Sister Helen Saunders rsj stated in her vote of thanks:

We the Sisters give thanks to all those loving people, of all faiths and none, who have supported us over the past 150 years.  Across every diocese in NSW, women and men have shared not only their food, time and talents but have given support, care and hospitality to many of us.

It was among you that we found our home!

We approach this next phase of our history humbly asking you to continue this loving partnership we have enjoyed.

Following the Mass, lunch was enjoyed as many friendships were renewed. It was indeed a day filled with love and gratitude!

Jeanette Foxe rsj