“Gratitude is the memory of the heart”

(Mary MacKillop, 1907)

Our Opening School Mass celebrated this theme and acknowledged the great contribution of the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart as we move forward in our journey of faith with them. The Mass saw past Principals, founding teachers, board members and other Josephite community representatives join together to celebrate in gratitude and thanksgiving the legacy of Education established here in 1964 by the Josephites.

The following is the speech given at the College Opening Mass by Sister Kerrie Cusack, Regional leader for Victoria/Tasmania branch of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart.

Today is an historic day for the Sisters of St. Joseph in Victoria. While the Sisters have given 130 years of service to Catholic education in this state, mostly through parish owned schools & regional colleges. Mount St Joseph Girls’ College has been the only college the Sisters owned here.

Opened in 1964 for young women in the western suburbs MSJ has exceeded the Sisters ‘ expectations in both its enrolments, in providing educational opportunities for young women, in its building programs and enhancement of this site.

Today, the Sisters are entrusting its future to you. It’s time for us to hand over the responsibility to the Archdiocese of Melbourne and on the ground that means to everyone present here today - to Kate,the Principal and the Stewardship Team, staff, students , families and College Board.

The Sisters confidently ask you to continue to breathe contemporary life and action into the charism of St Mary MacKillop, Fr Julian Tenison Woods and the Sisters who have gone before us and who are here witnessing this transfer today.

You are already doing it! Qualities of authentic welcomes and hospitality, inclusiveness, raising human dignity, offering equal opportunity, doing your best, respecting difference, believing in the providence and presence of God in every moment, reaching out to our neighbour with practical compassion, helping the weak to become strong and celebrating life and success.
We see and feel these qualities when we visit. We read about what they look like in your newsletters, on your website and when we meet you and former staff and students.

We can never respond to every need as Mary MacKillop urges us but we can always choose some actions that build up the common good and create a community of belonging. Choosing life and learning, getting to know Jesus Christ as friend and companion will help us to be people of hope. In that way we see needs and try to do something about them.

Mary MacKillop reminds us:
“Gratitude is the memory of the heart”
On behalf of all of the Sisters of St Joseph of the region of Victoria and Tasmania, I thank you sincerely for your part in the college story - to the Sisters who were principals and on staff, Board Directors, to past & present lay staff and principals, to families
and students, benefactors and Parents & Friends associations, for all you have done to make MSJ what it is today.

Thank you, Kate Dishon, Stewardship Team and College Board, chaired by Garry McLean and the staff from CEM for your cooperation in negotiating with the Sisters and our regional team in recent years. Thank you to Danielle Fairthorne and team for arranging today’s Mass and ritual.

I express our sincere appreciation too to outgoing and incoming Board Directors for your voluntary commitment to ensure the smooth transition of the college. We know that in your hands, MSJ will continue thriving as an icon of Catholic education for young women. We are also very pleased that the Sisters will continue to be represented by Sr Geraldine Larkins on the College Board.

The Sisters will not abandon you. They will continue to attend College events and provide opportunities for staff and students through AJASS, the Australian Josephite Association of Secondary Schools through the Mary MacKillop Heritage Centre at East Melbourne, the Mission & History Centre in Hobart and St. Joseph’s by the Sea in Williamstown.

Today we celebrate and we give thanks for all that has been, for the treasures of today and we look forward to the future , to the continual evolving of Mount St Joseph Girls’ College. As Mary MacKillop said, “ In Joseph’s Care I leave you and God will provide for the future.” 1907.

Kerrie Cusack rsj