Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
5 Jun 2013

More than 8000 Australians travelled to Rome for the Canonisation of Mary MacKillop
Being a Josephite in today's world is not only about taking formal vows and becoming a Sister of St Joseph. For some men and women who are inspired by Mary MacKillop and felt God's call, their vocation may be to become Covenant Josephites.
In the past few years five women and one married couple have entered into a covenant with the Josephite charism with a further six women currently discerning God's call in communion with the Sisters before making a similar commitment.
Among those who have become Covenant Josephites are a school principal, a naturopath, a staff member in an Australian diocese and a career woman. The married couple who entered into communion with the Sisters to become Covenant Josephites are Peruvian who have long been involved with the St Joseph's Congregation in Peru and the Sisters' mission there.
The average age of the women who have or are embracing the Josephite charism and becoming Covenant Josephites is between 45 to 60. Many of them are also married and have teenage or adult children.

Thousands make the pilgrimage to St Mary of the Cross MacKillop's tomb at the historic chapel in North Sydney
"Most seem to be in mid life and searching for meaning in their lives," says Sister Katrina Brill,rsjJ, Convenor of Congregational Immersion and God's Call to Josephite Life Group.
"Over the past few years we have come to recognise that many people resonate with the spirit and charism of Mary MacKillop and are living a spirituality animated by the charism," she says.
This trend which first began to be seen after the Beatification of Mary MacKillop by Pope John Paul II in 1995 has continued to grow with the Josephite charism being embraced by not only women but men as well.
"The growth of the Josephite movement is very exciting and it was in response to this that the Sisters decided to create two new pathways for the charism," Sr Katrina says.
The two pathways were designed during the Sisters of St Joseph's 25th Chapter Assembly of 2007. Held every five years, the Chapter Assembly involves sisters from across Australia, New Zealand, Peru and Ireland. At the time of the 2007 gathering, Sr Katrina was Congregational Leader and in concert with the entire Congregation of Sisters from across the globe, the new pathways were developed.

Sister Katrina Brill RSJ
Together with the traditional and time-honoured pathway of discerning God's call and through study and prayer taking vows and becoming a Religious, the Sisters opened the door to allow single men as well as women to discern God's call and to take private vows to become Affiliates of the Josephite Congregation.
Living independently from the Congregation, Josephite Affiliates lead their lives according to The Rule of Life in the spirit of the Josephite charism and after discernment, enter into a memorandum of affiliation with the Sisters.
Currently there are almost 12 Josephite Affiliates in Australia and Ireland who have taken private vows according to The Rule of Life and have joined the Sisters in their mission.
The third pathway developed and open to men and women whether married or single is one that enables them to discern God's call and through prayer and with the communion and support of the Sisters, to become Covenant Josephites.
Assisted through their discernment by the wise counsel and support of a team of three to four Sisters of St Joseph, Covenant Josephites take no vows but instead make a renewable formal Covenant where they pledge to live in the spirit of Mary MacKillop and in prayer and mutual support with the Sisters and the Josephite community.
Over the past five years more and more lay men and women across Australia as well as in New Zealand, Ireland and also Peru have become Covenant Josephites. At least 15 more are currently in the process of discernment.

St Mary of the Cross MacKillop
"These days we like to imagine the Josephite Movement as a braided river bed with different streams flowing across the bed to represent the different pathways available for living the spirituality," says Sr Katrina. "Another way of looking at it is to visualise a large circle with the Sisters at the centre and all the others who make up the Josephite caravan clustered around them."
Co-founded by Fr Julian Tenison Woods and Mary MacKillop more than a century ago, the Josephite Congregation continues to break new ground and pioneer new ways of living the Gospel.
From its earliest days, the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart were one of first religious congregations to not only obtain the Pope's permission to be independent under their own self-elected superior-general, rather than under the administration of a bishop as was customary, but they also broke new ground by choosing not to live in a convent but instead to be part of the local community and live alongside the poor to whom they ministered.
Now almost 150 years later, the Josephites are once again coming up with new ways for people to discern God's call and to answer St Mary of the Cross Mackillop call to "never see a need without doing something about it."
To find out more about becoming a Covenant Josephite or an Affiliate of the Congregation of the Sisters of St Joseph log on to