Mary MacKillop Sisters celebrate 1700 years of Religious Life

29 Sep 2022

By The Record

Thirty-one Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart have this month gathered to celebrate a total of 1700 years of service.

The Sisters gathered at Mary MacKillop Place in North Sydney to celebrate their Golden and Diamond Jubilees marking 50 years and 60 years since their first profession.

From the opening events and processions at both Jubilee gatherings, the dialogue, hymns and prayers were of friendship, joyful worship and thanksgiving – for years lived, for commitment given, for Josephite life and ministry.       

Group photo of the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart.
Golden Jubilarians celebrating 50 years at Mary MacKillop Chapel in North Sydney. Photo: Supplied.

Sixteen Golden Jubilarians travelled from Timor Leste, Peru, Halls Creek in the Western Australian Kimberley, Perth, Adelaide, Penola, Melbourne, Launceston, Brisbane and Sydney to acknowledge this milestone and renew their vows with Sisters, friends and family.

Western Australian Sisters Alma Cabassi, Nola Goodwin and Maree Riddler were among those who celebrated their Golden Jubilee.

The Sisters had made their first profession 50 years ago at Baulkham Hills, Sydney, Goulburn and Hobart.  

From left, WA Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart, Maree Riddler, Nola Goodwin and Alma Cabassi celebrated their Golden Jubilee this month at a special celebration at Mary MacKillop Place, North Sydney. Photo: Supplied.

Congregational Leader, Sister Monica Cavanagh, reflected that as young Sisters, the Golden Jubilarians had in the words of Pope Francis, “bought a pair of walking shoes and set out on uncharted paths”.

“Their mission had called them to take risks and to move into unfamiliar territory,” Sr Monica said.

“Their ministry totals 800 years and those years include education at all levels, social justice, parish pastoral involvement, chaplaincy and pastoral care in various settings, music and liturgy as well roles of congregational leadership,” she said. 

Diamond Jubilarians celebrating 60 years at Mary MacKillop Chapel in North Sydney. Photo: Supplied.

Fifteen Diamond Jubilarians also gathered in September to celebrate their commitment of 60 years as Sisters of Saint Joseph and a total 900 years ministry.

Time together was spent reminiscing, in catching up with lives lived in different areas of Australia, Aotearoa New Zealand, Scotland and Peru.

Those Sisters who were not able to attend were remembered and shared the experience via the live streamed Mass. 

Sr Monica Cavanagh spoke of the journey that these Sisters had set out on 60 years ago which had taken them into situations that they possibly never dreamed of on that first Profession Day.  

Principal celebrant, Parramatta Bishop Vincent Long, assisted by Fr Peter Hudson, congratulated the Jubilarians on their vowed commitment.

The Jubilarians were invited to renew their vows by Sr Monica, and their renewed commitment was met with applause from the Congregation.                                  

In concluding the occasion, Sister Monica thanked all the Jubilarians “for the women you have become and for sharing your gifts and lives with us”.  

Encouraged and supported by God’s unconditional love the Jubilarians continue in the footsteps of the Co-founders of the Sisters of Saint Joseph, St Mary MacKillop and Father Julian Tenison Woods.