The Sisters of St Joseph

Photo of Professor Marea Nicholson

Message from Associate Vice-Chancellor (Sydney) Professor Marea Nicholson: Last month the Sisters of St Joseph launched their sesquicentenary exhibition A Tribute to Pioneering Josephite Educators which celebrates the contribution of generations of Josephite educational leaders and women of faith, commencing with Mother Mary Mackillop. A heritage walk, the exhibition will be a permanent feature at the Mary MacKillop Museum to honour significant educational leaders in the site’s history and ACU’s connection to the very early establishment period of Teacher Education in North Sydney.

In 1913 the Sisters established a training school at North Sydney for the teacher training of the Sisters of Saint Joseph. In 1958 lay students were admitted to the College which in 1971, became the Catholic Teachers College. The College became part of the Catholic College of Education in 1982.

In 1990 the Sisters of St Joseph were one of a group of Religious Congregations that combined their various Colleges of Advanced Education to establish ACU. During ACU’s formative years, the Sisters of St Joseph contributed to ACU as staff. Some of the names celebrated in the heritage walk include Sr Elizabeth Crilley, Sr Kristen Johnston, Sr Pat Malone and Sr Cath Thom.

In recognition of the contribution of Josephite educational leaders, our main lecture theatre on MacKillop Campus is the Leonie Ryan Auditorium and our Office of Student Success Centre is named the Isobel Menton Centre and more recently the establishment of the Isabel Menton Choral Work Composition Competition. Our large building at the centre of our campus is named Tenison Woods House, in honour of Father Julian Tenison Woods, co-founder with Mary MacKillop of the Sisters of St Joseph.

In 2016, 150 years since their foundation, the Sisters of St Joseph continue to follow the spirit of their founders and strive to achieve their goals: to educate and to respond to the needs of the poor and disadvantaged.

It is timely with our own celebrations of our Patron this week on the Feast of St Mary MacKillop, that we acknowledge the great contributions that the Sisters of St Joseph have made over the past 150 years to education and the importance of qualities of courage, persistence, dedication and responsiveness that today remain essential components for contemporary leaders.

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