Goulburn - The Early Days

The diocese of Goulburn was established in 1862 and extended from Berrima, south of Sydney, southward and westward to the borders of the colonies of Victoria and South Australia.

William Lanigan was the first bishop of this vast area. He was concerned about providing support for the faith of his people and the education of Catholic children, particularly in the remote regions of his diocese.

Being aware from 1872 of the work of the Sisters of St Joseph in the Bathurst diocese, Bishop Lanigan set about organising his own Josephite Congregation.

In 1880 he visited Ireland to recruit priests and religious for his diocese.  Among those who came to Australia were five young women who he sent to The Vale Road Convent in Bathurst diocese to be trained as Sisters of St Joseph. He paid for their training.

Five Sisters arrived in Goulburn on the evening of Saturday, August 12 1882 and the next morning were welcomed by the people of the northern end of the town. They resided temporarily in Sheekey’s Cottage (pictured left) in Lagoon Street, until their convent was built the following year, and taught their classes in the North Goulburn church.

Once their convent was built young women began joining the Order. Many of those who entered came from Ireland.

With the coming of new members branch houses were opened:











Bateman’s Bay












Neutral Bay




















O’Connor ACT




Vanimo PNG




Lyneham ACT




Page ACT








Wagga Wagga


In 1917 the Diocese of Wagga Wagga was established out of the south west portion of the Goulburn diocese. The houses in Tumbarumba, Narrandera, Holbrook, Coolamon and Leeton would be in the new diocese, and under the arrangements for Diocesan Institutes, would then form a separate Institute. The prospect was not welcomed by the Sisters. The bishops of the time, Gallagher of Goulburn and Dwyer of Wagga Wagga, did not want to see ‘the further fragmentation of the Order’ and supported the application of the Sisters in 1932 for Papal Approbation.

The Goulburn Congregation welcomed opportunities over the years for Josephite Congregations to plan and work together. Through discernment, prayer, study and conversation among the Josephite Congregations a desire emerged among the Goulburn Sisters to be reunited with their Sisters of origin. In July 2012 a Special General Chapter decided to seek approval for a formal merger (or fusion) with the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart.

In August 2012 an application was made to the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life in Rome for approval to merge with the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart. On September 28, 2012 CICLSAL approved the merger.

On March 19, 2013 the fusion was celebrated with Mass and a Luncheon in Goulburn.

View an image gallery of the Fusion and Celebrations

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Sisters featured in Goulburn Leadership Timeline Banner

Sr Evangelist Duggan 1882-1892
Sr Augustine Doyle 1899-1903; 1911-1914; 1932-1935
Sr Benedict Seymour 1905-1911; 1914-1920; 1923-1932; 1935-1947
Sr Bernard Corbett 1920-1923
Sr Magdalene O’Mara 1947-1954
Sr Vianney O’Mara 1951-1963
Sr Tarcisius Saunders 1963-1978
Sr Berchmans Collins 1975-1981
Sr Celsus O’Grady 1981-1987
Sr Jean Adams 1987-1993
Sr Mary O’Dea 1993-1999
Sr Kerrie Cusack 2000-2005
Sr Noelene Quinane 2006
Sr Kerrie Cusack 2011-2015

Sisters not featured in Goulburn Leadership Timeline Banner as photo unavailable

Sr Joseph Cahill 1982-1896
Sr Patrick Murphy 1896-1897
Sr Clare Gorman 1897-1899

Page last updated April 2017