Sisters of the Past

Sister Joseph – Margaret Kinsella

Profiled August 2013

19 January 1859 – 23 January 1886

Margaret Kinsella was born in Tasmania on the 19th January 1859.  She entered the diocesan Sisters of St Joseph at Bathurst on 2 July 1877.  She was received into the novitiate, taking the religious name Joseph on the Feast of Corpus Christi in 1878.

Sister Joseph Kinsella, at the age of 21, was one of the four founding Sisters of the New Zealand Diocesan Congregation of the Sisters of St Joseph.  She was professed on 27 November 1879.  Just five months later on 14 April 1880, selected from the Perthville community by the founder Father Julian Tenison Woods, she set sail from Sydney on the Wakatipu for Wellingotn, New Zealand, with three companions.  From Wellington, the Sisters boarded the steamer Wakatu and after a fairly boisterous night at sea, arrived at the Whanganui wharf on 26 April 1880 at 6am, much earlier than expected.  The church bell rang out letting the town know of their arrival.

Later that day there was a welcome concert.  The Sisters stayed in the old presbytery for two days until the convent was formally blessed and opened on Sunday 25 April.  A great deal of work awaited them: teaching, taking care of boarders, and setting up a formation programme for the three postulants already recruited by the Parish Priest Dean Charles Kirk.

Having not yet made her final profession, Sr Joseph also had to continue her own formation.  She was finally professed on 23 January 1886.  On 28 March that same year she was elected Superioress, taking over this position from Sr Hyacinth Quinlan.  During her years as Superioress, she made a visit back to Perthville, NSW, with Sr Hyacinth in January 1887.  The purpose of their visit was to recruit postulants.

It was while Sr Joseph was Mother General that the Hastings foundation was made in Hawkes Bay in 1888.  It was also during this time that she contracted tuberculosis, and she died on 26 May 1889 at the age of 30.  She was buried at the Heads Road Cemetery in Whanganui.

Little is known of Sr Joseph’s character, except that she was described as a ‘gentle soul’, quiet and peace-loving, ‘the perfect Sister of St Joseph’.

Gallery / Whakaahua

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