Celebrating 60 years as ‘Brown Joeys’


Sisters of St Joseph Diamond Jubilarians
Sisters of St Joseph Diamond Jubilarians from Australia, New Zealand and Ireland. Front L to R: Marie-Ellen Kerin (NZ), Beverly Marie Murray (Qld), Clare Vogler (Qld), Patricia Goffey (Qld), Agnes Nunn (Vic), Therese McQuillan (Qld), Anne Cahir (Vic), Marguerite Seaberg (NSW), Margaret Kealy (NSW), Julie O'Sullivan (WA) Back L to R: Maryanne Welsh (SA), Leonie McGuire (NSW), Bernardine McAuliffe (Charleville, Ireland), Marcia Roebuck (NSW), Mary Therese Luscombe (Vic), Joan McCann (Vic), Margaret Keane (NSW), Catherine Burke (Vic)

January is the month for anniversaries for the Sisters of St Joseph, the religious congregation co-founded by Australia’s first Saint, St Mary of the Cross MacKillop.

Last week, 40 sisters marked their Golden Jubilee of their first vows as Sisters.

This week, a further 19 are celebrating their 60th year as ‘Brown Joeys’, the name derived from the distinctive brown habits they once wore.

The Diamond Jubilarians from Australia, New Zealand and Ireland have gathered at Mary MacKillop Place in North Sydney, the location of their teacher training in the 1950s. In their time as religious Sisters, they have seen enormous changes in society and the church, including the massive changes brought about by Vatican II.

For Sr Maryanne Welsh from South Australia, the Jubilee is an event she has been looking forward to.

“It was a wonderful occasion; I wouldn’t have missed it for anything!” Sr Maryanne said.

Sr Clare Vogler from Queensland agreed, saying that she felt proud to be a follower of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop, and especially being among the first Diamond Jubilarians to celebrate after Mary's Canonisation.

Sr Leonie McGuire from NSW said the Jubilee ceremony was inspiring.

“It captured the significance of our re-commitment, especially when we all stood out the front and renewed our vows,” Sr Leonie said.

Sr Bernadine McAuliffe travelled from Charleville in County Cork in Ireland to be reunited with the Sisters she trained with as a young woman. 

“It is so good to return to Australia to meet again with the women I have known for sixty years.  The memories of teaching in country schools in Australia have always remained vivid,” Sr Bernadine said.

The Sisters have worked as teachers, nurses, in parishes, retirement villages, administration and home making. After 60 years as Sisters of St Joseph, all are still engaged in some part-time ministry.


From vows to now: Brown Joeys Class of '61 celebrates 50 years


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