United at last, but who are the Perthville Josephites?

St Mary MacKillop and Julian Woods

The historic fusion of the Perthville 'Black' Josephites, and the original 'Brown' Josephite Sisters was marked in Bathurst last weekend. So how did the brown and the black come to be separate in the first place?

The story of the Sisters of St Joseph began with Fr Julian Tenison Woods and St Mary of the Cross MacKillop in Penola in South Australia in 1866.

During the next few years they endured many tribulations including a wrongful excommunication by the ill and badly-advised Bishop of Adelaide, Bishop Sheil.

Bishop Matthew Quinn of Bathurst was appointed (among others) by Rome to investigate the situation in Adelaide. He was much impressed by the work of the Sisters and invited Fr Woods and Mary MacKillop to make a foundation in his diocese.

A group, consisting of three religious Sisters and one aspirant, led by Sr Teresa, arrived at The Vale (Perthville) on 16th July 1872.

They set up a convent in part of a little wooden church and a week later took over the existing Church school that had been conducted by a lay woman.

From humble beginnings grew the Diocesan Congregation of Sisters of St Joseph.

Bishop Quinn had already expressed his idea of having a religious institute under his charge dedicated to education.

In 1875 he arrived back from Ireland with nine postulants. He found Sr Teresa very ill.

Bishop Quinn was used to the Irish model of Religious life with control centred in the Bishop of the diocese. He told the Sisters that only those who accepted the rule could remain in the diocese.

The Bishop told Mary MacKillop that he would give the Sisters who chose her new rule the convent at Wattle Flat. The other Sisters and the new postulants were to remain at The Vale under Bishop Quinn.

Fr Woods and Sr Hyacinth (from Adelaide) and Sr Evangelist (local) nurtured the new congregation at The Vale in the same spirit of the original in Adelaide.

The small community flourished. Women came in numbers to join the Sisters at Perthville. As well as providing Sisters to teach in numerous small settlements throughout the Bathurst Diocese, communities were sent to make foundations at Wanganui in New Zealand (1880), Goulburn (1882), Maitland (1883), Tasmania (1887) and Ballarat (1891). 

The Sisters have had a significant impact on the Church and the small towns of New South Wales, especially in the years before state aid was given to Catholic schools.

Read full history: HERE (Sisters of St Joseph of Perthville)

MORE:

Josephite Fusion Celebration (Diocese of Bathurst)

Perthville Josephites celebrate reunion with original Sisters of St Joseph (Sisters of St Joseph)

Judy Kilby: Thank You to the Sisters of St Joseph (Sisters of St Joseph)

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