Celebrating 150 years of the arrival of the Sisters of Saint Joseph in NSW was a blessed event indeed.
The actual date was 16 July 1872 when Teresa McDonald, Hyacinth Quinlan, Joseph Dwyer and Ada Braham arrived in Perthville, near the NSW town of Bathurst.
Their memory was cherished as about 80 sisters from across the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart and Sisters of St Joseph Lochinvar congregations arrived for the Mass in the Cathedral of St Michael and St John in Bathurst on the same day – 16 July 2022.
A rousing and evocative Welcome to Country preceded the entry into the Cathedral, already graced with the presence of many friends, supporters and past pupils. The current Bishop of Bathurst Michael McKenna and the Parish Priest Paul Devitt were joined by Archbishop Patrick O’Regan, a past pupil of the Perthville school. Many priests of the diocese and further afield concelebrated with them. The liturgy was strong, brisk and all-embracing, later described as one of the best liturgies experienced for a long time.
The welcome post-Mass refreshments were happily prepared and served by the Country Women’s Association, who said they loved being part of it all. The hall was alive with talk among old friends and new acquaintances, memories were unearthed, and the cake was cut.
It was then off to Perthville for the launch of the Heritage Centre App that provides entry into the vivid history of the Josephite convent and the school. The Heritage Centre itself is a jewel of archival access and interest and many availed themselves of its treasures. More food, more talk, more laughter, more memories.
It was a joy to be at Perthville for this special event. The sense of community between the sisters and the community was palpable, a communion embedded deep in the history of the place and its people, and still strong. Past boarders shared happy memories, ex-sisters proudly talked of their links, priests and bishops mingled and laughed, and current employees and volunteers were happily part of the mix.
The community at Perthville, the Founders and Followers Committee and the Perthville Heritage Committee are to be congratulated for providing such an opportunity to reflect on and celebrate this important occasion. The organisation was excellent, allowing for a real experience of the Josephiteness that exists both in the sisters and the people.
The whole event had the element of ‘ordinariness’ and hospitality that expresses who we are and who we serve. Once again, we felt our roots.
This article was written with contributions from Sisters Susan Connelly, Josephine Mitchell and Jan Barnett.
View the recorded live stream of the Mass here.
Reproduced with permission from the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart.