josephite retreat centre 003.jpg

Sisters of Today

Sister Justin Collins

Profiled in August 2003 (updated March 2013)


I was born in Wellington and came to Wanganui when I was 6 weeks old. I began school at Sister Rita’s School in Aramoho.  I remember walking to school, Sister making toffee, and the galas held to raise funds for the school. My biggest heart break was having to leave there because of my father’s health he had to move nearer the sea.  I then attended St Vincent’s school in Castlecliff.  The same Sisters of St Joseph taught me, and they travelled from St Mary’s Convent daily by tram.  After passing my Proficiency I went to Sacred Heart for my secondary education.  After I had been there two years my father died, and I became a boarder.

I went straight from school to enter the Sisters in 1930 in my 18th year.  I did my spiritual training and at the same time taught school as a student teacher.  I had previously taken some classes at Sacred Heart Infant School.  I was also learning singing from Sister Hyacinth.

My first appointment was to Waipukurau in Hawkes Bay.  At the same time as I turned 21, I was asked to take a choir there many were old enough to be my grandparents!  From there I spent my teaching ministry in many of the Sisters of St Joseph branch houses from Wanganui to Taranaki, and south to Levin.  I taught music as well often finishing school with just time for a cup of tea before doing a couple of hours at the piano with pupils.  I was asked to do speech and drama, which I studied with later help from Sr Imelda.  I gained my ATCL and LTCL and began to teach speech and drama, as well as music and sometimes singing.  In 1970 I was teaching in the secondary school at Sacred Heart English, Shorthand, Typing, as well as Speech.  I remained there until the end of my teaching ministry in 1977.

While I had been teaching at St Mary’s primary School, I had been asked to help Sacred Heart staff presenting musicals the first was the story of the Von Trapp Family which I did with Sister Barbara Cowan, joining with the local St Augustine’s Boys Secondary School.  I enjoyed doing the speech and drama work, as well as music, but I liked teaching in the classroom too.

At the end of my time teaching, I applied for and received a year’s transfer to the Sisters of St Joseph in Tasmania.  My ministry there was at Newstead, Launceston, where I did the management of domestic staff and the ordering for the sisters and the boarders at the school at Newstead.

When I returned to New Zealand, I was a community member at Mt St Joseph, and then went to Hawera, where I returned to primary school as a librarian.  I enjoyed that work for five years.  The next change was to spend two years as receptionist at the Nunciature in Wellington.  At the end of that time I received the Papal Medal from Archbishop Magnoni, the Nuncio at the time.  I returned to the Hawera community, and then in 1992 came to Nazareth Home for my health needs.

In 2012 I celebrated my 100th birthday, and this year 2013 I have celebrated 80 years professed as a Sister of St Joseph.

Gallery / Whakaahua

Members Login