Youth Involvement

Young adults, teenagers and younger children, share the Josephite charism in a variety of ways. In doing so they participate in God's Mission by responding to the urgent needs of our world.

Young Adults: 

MacKillop Young Adult Community (MacYAC) - Victoria

MacKillop Young Adult Community is a network of young adults and Josephite Sisters centered at the MacYAC gathering place in Melbourne Avenue, Glenroy, Victoria.

As a young woman in Western Victoria, Mary MacKillop wrote “Believe the whisperings of God to your own heart.” 

Today, MacYAC provides an opportunity for young adults to share life, spirituality and outreach to those in need.    It is intended as a way of following in the spirit of Mary MacKillop in ordinary daily life - and it continues to grow and develop as a place of hospitality and friendship for community members.  

In the future, we hope  that MacYAC will provide opportunities and support for many more young adults as they strive to make a difference wherever they are, by committing themselves, in the sprit of Mary MacKillop,  to creating a more just and compassionate world.

MacYAC invites young adults 18-35 to become involved in any, or all of these activities:

  • Sundays @ 6 - Reflection time and a shared meal
  • Mates 4 MITA - Visits to the Detention Centre
  • Road Trip to Penola - where the Josephite story began

Contact us to find our more information about MacYAC or any of the above activities:


Secondary Students: 

JJAMM – Joseph Julian and Mary MacKillop

JJAMM provides annual leadership training for the student leaders in the AJASS schools (i.e. those in the Josephite tradition) to help develop the MacKillop spirit in these young people, and empower them to share it with their peers. Each year, they hold a 'JJAMM week' back in their own schools where the agreed focus is shared with the whole school. Here is a description of this year's JJAMM Week at Mount St Joseph Girls' College, Altona (Victoria):

'JJAMM Week: The week of celebration at our College, based around the Feastday of St Mary MacKillop on august 8th is always one of the most vibrant weeks on our College Calendar. This year was no exception with the celebrations and prayer rituals of JJAMM Week (Joseph, Julian and Mary MacKillop) giving all students and staff opportunities for involvement. JJAMM Week is celebrated across Australia and New Zealand in many of the 40 Josephite schools which belong to the AJASS (Association of Josephite Affiliated Secondary Schools). The highlights of the week included our annual Music, Media, Art, Design, Dance (MMADD) Day and our Founders’ Day liturgy and carnival.'

JJAMM Testimonials:

I spoke out and would not have done that in the past. When I began this journey I did not have a great deal of confidence in myself. JJAMM changed that. JJAMM taught me that by speaking up you can change the world.
Truly the most empowering, inspirational and liberating experience I have EVER encountered. I am going back with so many ideas and memories that I will cherish always.


Primary School Children:

Inspired by Mary MacKillop, children are capable of making a big difference within the life of their school and wider communities.

A new movement is developing in schools where 'Mary MacKillop Groups' and/or 'Junior Associates' have been forming in recent years. This has its seeds in schools which
have a 'Josephite tradition'. However, as St Mary MacKillop is
a saint for all of us, all schools - primary and secondary - are invited and welcome to form a Mary MacKillop or Junior Joeys' group!

'Never see a need without doing something about it...' Mary MacKillop

Interested in starting a group at your school? Download a FREE teacher's resource/start-up kit:

Junior Josephites' Group - Whitefriars School, Woodville Park (S.A.)

Whitefriars is a Catholic Primary School located in the western suburbs of Adelaide which has had a long association with the Sisters of St Joseph. The school was established in 1912 and, through the years, the work of the Sisters has kept the spirit of their founder St Mary MacKillop alive in the hearts and minds of Whitefriars’ students as they strive to action the school motto “In All Things Kindness”. While the Sisters of St Joseph no longer work in the school, their presence and influence continues through the efforts of a group of Years 4-7 students who share the Josephite charism. They are the Junior Josephites.

Over the years this group has actioned a number of projects, including raising money for Josephite Missions in Timor and Peru and for the Warnum Community School in the East Kimberley (WA). They have also knitted squares to make blankets to provide warmth to the homeless.

Meeting weekly during their lunchtimes, the students are eager and enthusiastic with the goal of walking in the footsteps of St Mary MacKillop. Like Mary and the Sisters of St Joseph, the Junior Josephites at Whitefriars are committed to prayer, the education of others and helping those in need.

Meetings begin with prayer. The Junior Josephites pray to be more like St Mary MacKillop and for the needs of others. They also volunteer to prepare and coordinate the weekly Community Prayer held at the school on occasion. Celebrating the feast of St Joseph and remembering the struggles of asylum seekers and refugees during Refugee Week are events close to the hearts of the Junior Josephites and they chose these times to host prayer. They look forward to celebrating St Mary MacKillop’s Feast Day in August and the anniversary of her canonisation in October.

This year, the students elected to highlight the plight of asylum seekers. This has meant that they have had to first educate themselves on the issues before they have been able to educate others. Reading Anh Do’s story The Happiest Refugee, researching the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and listening to guest speakers have helped the Junior Josephites learn more about refugees and asylum seekers. Inspired by Mary’s words, Be kind to the poor foreigners. Remember that I was a foreigner once, and as such was never laughed at, nor unkindly treated (1875), they have spoken at school assemblies and made posters to help bring awareness of this issue to others in the school community.

The Junior Josephites have taken action! In keeping with their focus on asylum seekers and refugees, the group collected baby goods that were then made into ‘care packages’ for asylum seeking mums-to-be who had been moved to the Inverbrackie Detention Centre to await the birth of their babies. A hand-made card was attached to each package letting the women know that there was someone thinking of and praying for them and their babies. The group has also initiated a post card-writing campaign across the school - where students wrote and drew messages of hope on postcards to be sent to asylum seekers held in off-shore detention centres.

The Junior Josephites at Whitefriars School are inspired by Mary MacKillop and believe that they can make a difference in the lives of others!


Mary MacKillop Group - Holy Child School, Dallas (Victoria)

The staff and children of Holy Child School, Dallas (in Melbourne’s northern suburbs) are proud that their school, was the first in Australia to start a children’s Mary MacKillop group! Their special connection to Mary MacKillop has come about because there have always been Josephite Sisters working and teaching at Holy Child.

The Mary MacKillop group is well supported by the staff of Holy Child School. The two staff leaders, REC Jo-Anne Murphy and Veronica Madigan rsj, have reported that: ‘The ongoing support of our Principals has been particularly invaluable in ensuring its success. They have placed a high personal value on the group, and this has been demonstrated by the structures that have been put in place, including allocating some school resources to support us financially and making the task of co-ordinating the group a part of the role description of the Religious Education Co-ordinator. This gives a high profile and continues to be part of school life, regardless of changes in personnel.’

Holy Child’s Mary MacKillop Group has three main areas of focus:

  • Spiritual: coming together in the spirit of Mary MacKillop, in friendship, prayer and service
  • Educational: learning about Mary MacKillop, her life and work
  • Service: seeking to assist in our school and in the wider community

The school community works hard at following Mary’s motto “Never see a need without trying to do something about it.” This includes being aware of the immediate needs of people both within and beyond the school community, supporting people through prayer, friendship and acts of kindness and generosity. Beyond the school, they try to support:

  • the work of the Josephite Sisters, both locally and overseas
  • their ‘twin’ parish in East Timor
  • the work of their former parish priest (Fr Joe Ruys) in Peru.

The group has its own banner, which is displayed in the office foyer and is used at special Masses and outings. Membership of the group is open to students in Years 4-6. There is a Senior Group - Years 5&6, a Junior Group - Years 3&4.  The groups meet either weekly or fortnightly during lunchtime. As the number of involved students has continued to grow, a ‘Mary MacKillop Student Leadership Group’ (president, two vice-presidents and a secretary) has been established. This meets fortnightly to plan with the REC. The leaders, who are elected by their peers, have the responsibility of leading prayer and promoting Mary MacKillop Group activities in their own classrooms, e.g. in their ‘Circle Time’.

Mary MacKillop’s feast day is August 8th. Over the years, the school community has celebrated this day by having a special Prayer Service or Mass, during which the children who are presently members of the Mary MacKillop Group re-confirm their commitment to the group - and new members will make their first commitment, receiving their Mary MacKillop badge. Each year, a saying of Mary MacKillop's is chosen as the school’s motto for the coming twelve months, and this becomes the theme of the feast day Mass or Prayer Service. It is then displayed in prominent places around the school: the entrance foyer and in every classroom, and it is featured on the weekly parents’ newsletter.

Feast day activities over the years have also included Mary MacKillop classroom activities, and fund-raising events, such as casual clothes days and a mini fete. All the funds raised are donated on a rotating basis to the local and overseas projects named above. Over the years, the children have participated in a range of activities. This year’s special project is assisting once a week with the school’s ‘Healthy Breakfast Programme’.

The School has, over the years, received invaluable support from Mary MacKillop Heritage Centre and other Sisters of St Joseph who have worked closely with the group to give the students an understanding of how the work and charism of Mary MacKillop continue today.’

Junior Josephite Associates - St Philomena's School, Moree (NSW)

The Junior Josephites or JJAs began in 2007 for years 3 and 4. Years 5 and 6 children join ‘Mini-Vinnies’.
The meetings are held at lunch time once a month, and their motto is:   'Do your bit for God. Do your bit for your family. Do your bit for your school.'

The JJAs use the children's Mary MacKillop Prayer and include all their intentions, e.g. for world peace, and for the African girls who were hostages. Different children compose a prayer and bring it to the group, which learns about Mary MacKillop and her spirit . They have taken Mary MacKillop's quotes and stories from her life and mimed them in groups.

The children are keen to bring used stamps which are sold and the proceeds given to the Josephites’ ministry in Peru. At the end of the year, the JJAs have Christmas Party at which each child receives a different saying, a message from Mary MacKillop.

15 children were newly enrolled in 2014 and there are 4 helpers from Year 5 who have acted as Coordinators. The children received medals of Mary MacKillop and a certificate which the newly-formed Boambee group designed. The Moree JJAs keep in touch with the Boambee group.

Junior Joeys (Tasmania)

Why Junior Joeys?

For the Sisters of St Joseph, the idea of a Junior Josephite movement gives hope for the future. It provides reassurance that their story will live on through the works of those connected with the Charism.

For the individual school or college, the Junior Josephite movement would keep alive the founding story and spirit of each school, and their Vision and Mission, providing links to the wider communities and indeed the Sisters of St Joseph. Junior Joeys would also provide links between the curriculum and action, as the group allows for spiritual formation and outreach — at a level relevant to the individual students. Junior Joeys also allows for leadership of the participating staff and students who may not be named ‘leaders’ in the school.

What IS Junior Joeys?

Simply, Junior Joeys is a group of students from Grades 4-6 who show enthusiasm about the Josephite Charism and are committed to sharing Josephite values through their daily life, faith and outreach.

The Junior Joey program has three main components: Learn, Pray and Practise, and encompasses a range of formal and informal sessions, both educative and outreach-based.
– Learn: using the resources of the kit that is provided for teachers, the Junior Joey Program aims to allow students to learn about and further to emulate the virtues of Mary MacKillop, Julian Tenison Woods and the First Sisters of St Joseph.
– Pray: through our special Josephite Charism students are given the opportunity to pray for Josephites
throughout the world, for their own intentions, that of their schools and their families.
– Practise: In the Spirit of the works of the first Sisters of St Joseph, and the writings of Mary MacKillop:
"find happiness in making others happy”, and “never see a need without doing something about it”, Junior
Joeys are encouraged to practise some form of outreach. This action will be chosen by the students and
Junior Joeys’ Coordinator at each school. Depending on the resources of the school, it could be as simple
as collecting stamps, or writing to retired Sisters of St Joseph.


The meetings are held at lunch time, once a month, for no longer than 30 minutes, on a day that is appropriate to the life of the School. Depending on the chosen outreach activity and the culture of the school, the outreach may take up more time than the set monthly 30 minutes.

"Junior Joeys are people who go out of themselves and think of others"


Mary MacKillop Kids Camps

For several years now KIDS CAMPS have been held in the Far North of. This is a wonderful way for young adults to become involved. The first KIDS CAMP is being held in Queensland in March 2010.

Mitimiti Marae Aotearoa NZ - December 2009

We held our wonderful camp in the pristine, at in the Hokianga, by the sea, between 18-20 December 09! Our team of 15 fearless and inspirational leaders had a tremendous time with approximately 30 local children, spoilt by the rich and loving hospitality of the local community of the Panguru Parish.

The purpose of the camp was to foster love for Te Atua (God), themselves and each other through the four MacKillop values of: an attitude of gratitude, doing your bit, making room in our hearts for all and listening to God’s call.

As well as putting the children into four teams (based on the MacKillop values), each of the sessions also focussed on deeper learning of the MacKillop values. There was a lot of fun too, with a chocolate challenge and Hokianga Top Town to channel the vibrant energy that never ran out.

I can’t say how wonderful it was to share the experience with three other Sisters, three Josephite Associates, six leaders from Our Lady’s College in Brisbane, two volunteers from Ngatea and of course with the community gathered at Mitimiti Marae. The weekend seemed to be a life changing experience for many of us, being touched by the wairua (spirit) of the land and the manaakitanga (hospitality) of the local people. The whole weekend seemed to me to be a timeless moment, supported by the prayer and good wishes of the Sisters and many others.

I hope we can now build on this experience in the future so others too can participate in this particular Mission outreach: the Mary MacKillop Kids Camp.

Kia ora (may you have life)!

Contact Information

Sr Michelle Hughey rsj

Queensland Contact - Sr Monica Cavanagh