What is our Josephite Charism?

Thursday, 11 Mar 2021

I recently had a parent ask me "What is Josephite Charism"? So, I will endeavour to explain it to you in two parts.

The Sisters of St Joseph is the order of nuns (sisters) that St Mary of the Cross MacKillop established to minister to the poor and vulnerable of her time. She took her vows as a nun on 19th March, 1866. This day was the Feast of St Joseph hence Joseph is one of the significant figures that guided Mary's life as a nun. The other two being John the Baptist and Jesus. As the numbers of nuns grew the group become known as the Josephites.

Charism is a word that can easily be explained as "gift" - a spiritual gift. A gift given for the good of all people and it is usually associated with a religious order ie: Mercy or Christian Brothers. It is through the spirit working within these people that the gift or charism is given.

Unlike most other Catholic schools, our school was not founded by a religious order but because of the saint, St Mary MacKillop, that we were named after, we follow what Mary MacKillop did as a Sister of St Joseph in the Josephite charism.It can be difficult to explain what this actually looks like but it is always based on the beliefs or rules of the order. There were four rules that Mary MacKillop and Fr Julian Tenison-Woods decided on for the Sisters to follow: 

  1. Live poorly 
  2. Depend on Devine Providence for sustenance 
  3. Go wherever they are needed
  4. Do all the good you could, and never see an evil without trying to remedy it. 

This does by no means, mean we are to follow this exactly but we need to look at how we can in our contemporary times support the Josephite Charism.When Chris Gabbett visited Mary MacKillop Place in North Sydney, in 2019 to learn more about the Josephites, Sr Jan Barnett, explained it as the 6 P's (which is in our Strategic Plan):

St Mary of the Cross MacKillop can be best understood by looking at her ministry through 6 ‘Ps’. She had Passion. It was a deep passion for God and a passion for supporting people made in His image. Out of these, she believed in Possibilities. In her local and wider community, she saw suffering, injustice, struggles and pain and she wanted to alleviate these things. This led her to Practical Action – a willingness to get her hands dirty and to walk alongside those who suffered. In this, she was never alone – she embraced Partnership as a means of securing the Common Good. She did not let differences of faith, opinion or class be a barrier to her mission. She Persevered – facing barriers that were systemic, institutional and at times personal. Lastly, she was immersed in and believed in Prayer as a means towards transformation, and communion with God. 

There are correlations between what the original rules were to how it is explained further here. If you would like to learn more about Mary's story, it can be found at this website. The 6 P's really sums up what Mary MacKillop did in a very real way for us today.

This year students and staff will learn more about the 6 P's and how this can be our way of following in the footsteps of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop as we stand in Solidarity with others.

In the words of Mary MacKilllop, "May God bless you and keep you strong". 1875

In God's love always,

Paula O'Rourke
Assistant Principal Religious Education