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Celebration of Fusion 24 August 2013

After 132 years, the Sisters of St Joseph of Nazareth, Whanganui, are now fused with the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart.

Following the decision made at the 25th Jubilee Hui /Chapter in October 2012, the Sisters made a request to Sister Anne Derwin rsj of the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart for merger with the Congregation.  An enthusiastic response from Anne was then actioned by letters to the Vatican for merger.  The official Decree from the Institute for Consecrated and Apostolic Life was received in early March 2013, giving permission for the two Congregations to fuse.
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Thus, on Saturday 24th August , a large gathering assembled in St Mary’s Church, Whanganui to acknowledge and celebrate formally  the Fusion of the two groups.  Sisters of St Joseph from Australia, Ireland, Peru and New Zealand joined with Religious men and women of other Orders, Priests, Board members and Staff, former Sisters and Family members for the Mass, which was presided over by Bishop Charles Drennan of Palmerston North, with Bishops Peter Cullinane and Owen Dolan.


A formal powhiri/welcome began the celebration as the Nga Paerangi people of  Kaiwhaiki and the Whanganui Sisters welcomed the Bishops and visitors.  The clear calls of the karanga from Merekanara Huwyler and Luana Tawaroa for Nga Paerangi , and Kataraina Millin for the visitors, filled the church, as Bill and Anne Maremare led the visitors in.  Professor Morvin Simon spoke in his welcome of this time of Te Kiritahitanga – ‘being together in one skin’, and his welcome was replied to by John Haami, on behalf of the visitors.  

From the welcome, the ritual of the Mass was begun by the Sprinkling with water – the water of the Whanganui awa/river.  Sister representatives from various regions of the Sisters of St Joseph took this water to bless the assembly.

Bishop Charles Drennan in his homily drew on the readings chosen and spoke of fusion as
 “a force bigger than the two separate parties, a force that pertains to each but transcends them both.  …a combined will, a shared desire for wholeness, responding to the transcendent force which is the vision, the desire, of the Holy Spirit.  So today we celebrate a sacred fusion, the fruit of God’s creative, agile, ever fresh, presence at work with you, and with us, for our world.

Bishop Charles’ homily

Following the liturgy of the Word, the Rite of Fusion was introduced by  Colleen Woodcock rsj, and the Decree was read by Bishop Peter Cullinane. 


Anne Derwin rsj, Congregational leader, called upon the Whanganui Sisters to accept the new Constitutions and then presented them to Catherine Shelton rsj.                     


Sisters then came forward to receive their new emblems from members of the Congregational Leadership Team, after which, all Sisters both present, and watching on the LIve Stream over the Internet, renewed their vows.  The singing of the hymn ‘Joseph Holy’ brought the ritual to a close.

Mass hymns, both English and Maori, were led by both the Nga Paerangi people and the musicians and singers, and made for joyous and wholehearted participation in the liturgy.


Prior to the last blessing, Colleen Keeble rsj, Regional leader of the TransPacifico Region of the Sisters of St Joseph introduced her team and welcomed the Whanganui Sisters to this region.  The region encompasses Aotearoa New Zealand, Queensland, and Peru.

Sisters from across the Congregation left the church arm in arm to the full sounds of ‘Sing a New Song’.  All who had participated in the Mass later gathered at the Whanganui Racecourse Conference Room for a lunch together.

More photos in Gallery – Fusion Mass

Gallery / Whakaahua

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