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Who We Are

Beginnings

Our story begins in Adelaide, South Australia in the 1860’s. An English priest, Julian Tenison Woods, shared his vision with a young Australian of Scottish descent, Mary Mackillop.


Mary Mackillop, taken about 1875


Julian Tenison Woods

Both Mary and Julian were concerned about the needs of poor and migrant families, particularly in relation to the education of their children.  They gathered a group of women whom Mary as a governess helped to prepare for the work of teaching.

In 1866, Mary and two companions took charge of the Catholic school in Penola, South Australia.  She began wearing a simple black dress as a sign of her religious commitment. These first Josephites were to live very simply and be ready to move to wherever the needs arose.  By the end of 1869, there were 80 young women looking after 25 schools and homes.

In 1872, four Sisters travelled to Bathurst in New South Wales to begin a new foundation.  They began in Perthville, a small village near Bathurst.  They began to open schools in the areas where mining settlements had grown.

Difficulties arose regarding their Bishop’s ideas of governance of the Sisters.  This meant a severing of ties with their original group led by Mary Mackillop   Many returned to Adelaide.  Hyacinth Quinlan remained to train the newly arrived Irish girls.  Julian Tenison Woods remained their mentor and spiritual director.

Hyacinth was first leader of the group known as the Diocesan Sisters of St Joseph, later called the “black” Josephites.  The Central Group under Mary Mackillop, were known as the “brown” Josephites.  These names corresponded to the colours of the habit material chosen.

Gallery / Whakaahua

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