The Sisters of St. Joseph originated in Penola in the South East of South Australia in 1866. The new Religious Order was co-founded by Mary MacKillop and Father Julian Tenison Woods originally to fill teaching roles in Penola. In 1867 the Order moved to Adelaide. While continuing with their educational work the Sisters took on other social welfare roles.
The Sisters' 'rule of life', as related by historian, Sister Marie Louise Foale, stipulated that:
...the members of the new Order were to be ordinary women who lived in small groups among the people, with no visible means of support. They were to teach poor children and manage charitable institutions for destitute and otherwise socially disadvantaged people, especially women and children.
Foale also describes the Sisters 'frugal' lifestyle and their willingness to work long hours in 'trying conditions' in their service of those in need.
By June 1868, the Sisters of St Joseph were managing three charitable institutions in South Australia, St. Joseph's Refuge, St. Vincent de Paul's Orphanage and St. Joseph's House of Providence. In these places, they provided residential care for orphans and deserted children, homeless and destitute women of all ages. They also exerted pressure on the government for the rights of deprived children.
In 1889 the Sisters of St Joseph, at the order of Bishop Reynolds, were replaced at St Vincent de Paul's Orphanage by the Sisters of Mercy. However, in 1903 the Sisters opened a second orphanage, St Joseph's Orphanage at Largs Bay.
The Sisters of St Joseph also ran the Catholic Girls' Reformatory in Kapunda and the Catholic Girls' Home at Parkside.
Sources used to compile this entry: Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart, Where We Are - South Australia - History, Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart Inc, 2009, http://www.sosj.org.au/who-we-are/index.cfm?loadref=16; Foale, Marie Therese, Think of the Ravens: The Sisters of St Joseph in Social Welfare, Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart Inc, Kent Town, 2001; George, Karen, Finding your own way, Nunkuwarrin Yunti of South Australia Inc., 2005, http://nunku.org.au/resources/.
Prepared by: Karen George and Gary George
Created: 4 February 2011, Last modified: 2 January 2019