Sr Josephine Weatherald

Many at St Aloysius College will remember and value the contributions made by Sr Josephine Weatherald who, from 2012 until she retired, worked as a volunteer to support students and staff.  Josie believes it was encountering again the authentic Mercy Ethos, so faithfully and generously lived out each day by staff and students, that made an indelible mark on her. Like all Sisters of Mercy however, Josie has enjoyed a varied, creative, insightful and rewarding journey. Since 1961, she has given her all to the values and mission of the Order and Church.  It was a rich, lifegiving, cherished and fulfilling time for Josie.

Born in Wirrabara in mid-north S.A. it was at age six, Josie began her schooling with the Sisters of Mercy, at Star of the Sea, Henley Beach. Later, Josie attended her parish school, Albert Park, newly opened by the Sisters.  Aged just thirteen Josie left school to care for her frail mother and 97-year-old Grandfather.  While not regretting caring for her family of eight, Josie believes nothing can replace the early years of education.

This desire for education would be fulfilled throughout Josie’s life as a Sister of Mercy. Early in her first year at home Josie began to entertain a future as a Sister of Mercy.  This call from God was to have life changing effects. However, needing to experience life before entering the Order, Josie studied a Secretarial Course and worked in an office until she was twenty-one, then entered the Sisters of Mercy at Angas Street in 1961. On the cusp of the Second Vatican Council, changes to the Catholic way of life for Religious men and women were heralded.  Serge Habits were abandoned, teaching or nursing were also no longer sole commitments and Religious committed to new ministries, endeavouring to make a difference in the lives of people generally.  A greater involvement in Church affairs was also possible.

After three years in the Noviciate Josie resumed her education, studying while working full-time in home management at Angas Street with a community of eighty-eight Sisters.  Josie studied Home Catering, Dressmaking and Tailoring at the Institute of Technology (now University of SA). While at Angas Street, another Sister and Josie had the task of making 160 new white Habits over a six month-period. Continuing her studies, Josie taught two afternoons at Mercedes.

Sr Josephine Weatherald
(Sr Josephine Weatherald 2021, St Aloysius College Archives)
Sr Josephine Weatherald group

In January 1975 Josie arrived at Goodwood Orphanage and with Sr Lucy had 17 children in her care.  Later, Sr Lucy and Josie continued caring for children in a Cottage Home.  Life at Goodwood was a completely new experience, with children aged 3 to 11 years, who needed the Sisters 24 hours a day.  The Sisters were “Mummy” since the children had been separated from biological parents for a variety of reasons.  The children were loved and cared for with all the good will possible and were exposed to a creative way of life especially once settled into a Cottage Home at Westbourne Park in January 1976.  Play time was divided among the swimming pool; tram, train or bus journeys; visiting the Sister’s families and friends where often they shared a meal. There were weekend excursions, fishing, learning about the south coast beach region, visiting Burra and learning about early Cornish miners and even having BBQ breakfasts at Brown Hill Creek at 6.30am before going to school.  Meanwhile Josie studied Child Care, did numerous brief courses in Theology while attending endless meetings regarding Child Welfare, and when required took the children to doctors, dentists and child psychologists and attended regular visits from the children’s Social Worker. It was 8 years of constant challenge, heartache, joy and lots of celebrations, making each of the eight children’s birthdays special, along with Christmas and Easter.  The children however needed mother and father figures in their lives and Catholic Welfare introduced married couples into the system and the Sisters committed to new ministries.

In 1984 Josie went to Erindale and worked part-time with the Christian Life Movement in the Kingswood Parish.  In early 1985 Josie committed to the role of Parish Associate at Para Hills Parish, immersing herself in this ministry until 2010, enabling a breath of creative, personal involvement in the day-to-day faith life of parishioners, engaging in the responsibility of church work and implementing changes brought about by the Second Vatican Council.  Josie completed a four-year course in Church Ministry while also completing her degree in Theology.

In 2010 Josie retired from parish ministry, but in 2011 volunteered to work in the Church Office in secretarial duties for the canonization of Mother Mary McKillop.  Then of course she volunteered to work with students at SAC.

Retiring from all active duties in 2020, Josie can certainly attest to the extraordinary life she has enjoyed as a Sister of Mercy. Countless people have benefited and been blessed by her life’s work and generosity of spirit.

By Sister Josephine Weatherald and Carolyne Williams, 2021

Early 1968 saw Josie deployed to the Boarding School at Mercedes College.  With 104 boarders, work was constant the focus was on the Boarder’s education and shared living lifestyle. Josie continued teaching Dressmaking and completed studies in Year 11 and Year 12 subjects.  In 1974 Josie was sent to Banyo Seminary, Brisbane, to study Scripture and Spirituality where she was one of forty-two Religious women from around Australia.   This challenging and rewarding experience filled Josie with an appetite for further knowledge and learning in scripture, theology and spirituality.  Josie returned to the much-loved Mercedes community but was soon asked to do Child Care at Goodwood Orphanage.