We live close to people in mutual service, offering and
receiving compassion, challenge and hope as we walk
together in the ordinariness of daily life.
(Constitutions, A Future and a Hope p 11).
The first Sisters of St Joseph served the poor primarily through the ministry of Christian education in parish schools and support of families. Today, though ministry in schools has lessened, our Sisters continue to be educators in faith and supporters of family and parish life as well as promoters of lay participation and leadership in the Church.
Over the years these ministries have included counselling, pastoral planning and parish pastoral associates as well as chaplaincy positions in hospitals, prisons, universities and Catholic Care.
Sisters extend friendship and assistance in their visits to the sick and elderly in their homes, in hospitals and aged care facilities; in taking Holy Communion to those unable to celebrate with their worshipping communities; offering comfort and practical assistance in times of bereavement; supporting newcomers to the community.
They contribute to parish life in a variety of ways; helping the St Vincent de Paul Societies and other charities that care for the disadvantaged, and generally being good neighbours in the wider community.
These ministries call for compassion, a listening ear, a non-judgemental approach and the recognition that in serving among God’s people whose life experiences challenge and enrich us, we too are transformed.
The Sisters continue to serve in collaboration with others who have the same desire “to empower those who have few choices to claim their dignity and to assume responsibility for their own lives.”
In this spirit, the Sisters initiated a service to refugees called Penola House which has now been administered by the diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.
Sisters serve in St Joseph’s House of Hospitality in Newcastle, a soup kitchen in Port Macquarie, Zara’s House Refugee Women and Children’s Centre at Jesmond and Mums’ Cottage in Holmesville offering companionship, guidance, education and assistance to all members of the family unit.
In these and other ways the Sisters strive “to incarnate God’s love and faithfulness in our times ... by giving witness to the reality that Christ our hope is among us” while remembering the words of Father Woods that “we are but instruments in the hands of God.”
Reference: Our Constitutions, A Future and a Hope