Do you know what the JJJ stands for on the Josephite Sisters logo?
Have you a desire to learn more about the life of Mary MacKillop and the charism of the Josephite sisters? Would you enjoy engaging in conversation about these things?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you may be interested to learn about the Josephite Companions.
The Companions, formerly known as the Josephite Associates, launched their new look on Saturday 17 October 2020. This was the culmination of a three-year process, engaging members of the Josephite Associates as to how to strengthen the foundations of this lay movement to continue the legacy of the of charism of the Sisters of St Joseph.
Antoinette Mangion, coordinator of the Blacktown Josephite Companions group and a member of the NSW leadership team for the companions, explains why she is so passionate about the Josephite companions. “The companions are a group of men and women, meeting regularly in prayer, service and friendship in the spirit of Mary MacKillop and Julian Tenison Woods.
“Our gatherings consist of a reflective time of praying and sharing scripture. We then listen to the news of the community – not only our parish community but beyond – to see the needs and how we can best minister to those needs. After all, Mary MacKillop did say, ‘Never see a need without doing something about it.’
“We also focus on the life and times of Mary MacKillop and relate her story to today. Believe it or not, we find when we read the story of Mary, what happened in the 1800s is very similar to what we hear today. There is so much to learn from Mary’s responses and so we glean her wisdom and apply that to our present-day context.”
“I have been part of the Josephite community for 15 years,” shares Antoinette. “I am really passionate about the Josephite community because I love the spirit of Mary MacKillop. I love Mary MacKillop and how she walked with people in their need. She sat and listened to their stories. I resonate with Mary as I did this and continue to do this in my work and ministry.
“If we want to reach out to people and show them who Christ is, we need to reach out to people, walk with them and not judge them. Christ helped people most in need. This is what my baptism calls me to do. I see this in Mary so am very drawn to her and her story.”
Antoinette continues, “Mary MacKillop wanted the church to be inclusive. That is how she lived. The people who supported Mary and the sisters during her ex-communication were people of other faiths. She was welcoming, accepting and grateful of their hospitality and support, as they were of her. Mary lived inclusiveness.
“In all her work, Mary was missionary – both in the physical sense of travelling with a horse and cart to wherever the need was as well as living to the full her baptismal calling. Mary MacKillop evangelised in everything she did. Her passion was providing education for those who could not afford it. Mary would give of what she had to people in need. She went to the margins, as Bishop Vincent and Pope Francis are calling us to do. She was not afraid to take risks – to live what she knew was asked of her by God.”
In connecting St Mary MacKillop’s story to our world today, Antoinette offers her reflections. “I think of the Plenary Council that we are going through as a Church in Australia and I have seen the themes for discernment. Mary MacKillop brought to life these themes in her work.
“She was missionary and evangelising. She was inclusive. She was humble, and steadfast, in the work she did. She was prayerful and Eucharistic. She brought people together in thanksgiving. She called the ‘Will of God’ her ‘Book of Life’. And she lived that story as true as she could.
“Again, Mary lived hundreds of years ago, but her story and the Plenary Council themes for discernment speak to each other so much. I can see that the themes we have been offered through Plenary are not new, but like Mary did, brought them to life as she responded to the world in which she lived.”
Antoinette extends the invitation to find out more.
“The Josephite Companions aim to live in the footsteps of Mary MacKillop. Through the conversations at the meetings, we explore the ways in which we can do this, responding to the signs of the times in which we live.
“I invite people to find out more about the companions. Share with others the inspiration that Mary MacKillop offers. It is a wonderful opportunity – a companion – to live life to the full.
“Jesus said, ‘Come and see’. Come and see what the Josephite Companions are about and how we can make the will of God our book of life – together as community.”
To find out more about the Josephite Companions, contact Antoinette on 0414 735 943, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit https://www.sosj.org.au/get-involved/josephite-companions/.
You can also send your interest by post to:
NSW Josephite Companions
PO BOX 184 Croydon NSW 2132
Antoinette Mangion is the coordinator of the Blacktown Josephite Companions group and a member of the NSW leadership team.
Lisa Bright is the Project Officer for the Pastoral Planning Office for the Diocese of Parramatta.