New South Wales

The Sisters of Saint Joseph first came to New South Wales to Perthville in July 1872. Later Mary MacKillop and her Sisters received invitations from two bishops in New South Wales - Archbishop Roger Bede Vaughan OSB (Sydney) and Bishop Elzear Torreggiani OSFC (Armidale) and foundations were made in 1882. The Sisters of Saint Joseph in Goulburn were founded in 1882.

The following is the story of the second foundation.

In 1880, once again foundations were made in New South Wales - 'The House of Providence' in The Rocks area of Sydney, as well as schools at Penrith, St Marys, Lithgow, Wallerawang, Dapto, Picton, Inverell, Tenterfield, and in the Inner City of Sydney.

In May 1881, a larger building was purchased in Cumberland Street, The Rocks, Sydney for 'The Providence' and was seen also as a temporary Novitiate for those postulants who entered in 1880-81. In 1884 the Novitiate was formally established there. Dean Kenny, retired pastor of the North Sydney parish, however, donated his house ('Alma Cottage') to the Sisters for their use as a Novitiate. He considered the location in Alma Lane off Mount Street more appropriate than the house they occupied in The Rocks area. By May 1884, Mary MacKillop had moved in and later acquired Alma Terrace. In 1888, a Roman Decree designated this convent as the Mother House of the Institute in preference to 'The Providence'.

According to community location and numbers, Mary 'organised' the Institute of the Sisters of St Joseph into Provinces each of which had a leader called a Provincial. During the following one hundred and ten years or so, Sisters in NSW saw many changes occur in their province structure.




'The Providence' served also as the Provincial House of NSW.


Armidale (comprising the houses in the Armidale Diocese) was named as a province separate from Sydney.


The houses in the Wilcannia- Forbes area became a separate Province with their own Provincial.


Two provinces were created in NSW: Armidale-Lismore and Sydney-Goulburn-Wilcannia.


The Sydney province was divided into two: basically one suburban and one country.


Some of the suburban communities were added to the country province of Wollongong/Canberra-Goulburn because there was such rapid growth in population.


NSW had four provinces:

  • Armidale-Lismore

  • Canberra-Goulburn/Wilcannia-Forbes

  • Sydney South (incorporating the communities of the Wollongong Diocese)

  • Sydney North.


The two Sydney provinces were combined because of the decreasing numbers of Sisters.



NSW became one province with the Province Centre located at Croydon.

March 19.


The Region of NSW was established, and the Sisters of Goulburn Congregation became members of this region.


May 3. The Congregation of the Sisters of St Joseph Perthville became members of this Region.


Sisters of St Joseph from all Regions minister in our Josephite Outreach Areas in many parts of the world.

The members of the Congregation Mary MacKillop founded are women who work in a simple ordinary way sharing in the mission of Jesus in the service of the poor. From the earliest times, inspired by the charism of Mary MacKillop they have worked with the clergy and people of both urban and rural areas to spread the good news of the gospel. Trust in the Providence of God is basic to Mary's charism.

From the earliest days, the Sisters of St Joseph in New South Wales (as in each other Province) have realised the importance of this trust as they have been challenged to meet the new and changing needs of each decade.


Page last updated April 2017