Who we are

Sisters Hyacinth Quinlan, Teresa Schmidt, Joseph Kinsella, and Clare Rubie were the Sisters chosen for the first New Zealand foundation from Perthville to begin ministry in Whanganui, in the central North Island of New Zealand.  They arrived on 24 April 1880.

The first schools, a primary school and a secondary school for boarders, were opened in the city in that year.  In 1912 a move was made to a new convent and school on St John’s Hill.  1949 saw the purchase of a small farmlet at 14 Hillside Terrace, also on St John’s Hill.  The building served as Novitiate for the Sisters until 1982 when Sacred Heart Convent was demolished.  Named Mount Saint Joseph, this then became the Administration Centre for the Sisters and the facilities began use as a Spirituality and Retreat Centre.

Te Punanga o Hohepa, Josephite Retreat Centre is situated at Mt St Joseph, the 14 acre Hillside Terrace property which overlooks the city and the Whanganui Awa, with gardens and adjoining native reserve and wetland. It has facilities for conferences, seminars, group and private retreats.

The lives and spirituality of the Sisters of Saint Joseph formed the foundation of the Centre’s outreach, and were characterised by simplicity, being ‘ordinary’ i.e of the people, flexible, compassionate and trusting in the providence of God.

Thus the vision of the Josephite Retreat Centre holds to the Whanganui Sisters’ vision –

‘Ki tonu te ao me te orokohanga te tangata  –  Fullness of Life for the Earth and Its Peoples’

This vision is essentially –

  • Wholistic – assisting people to live fully human lives in justice and peace
  • Creation-centred – towards an integral ecology
  • Bi- Cultural – recognising Tangata Whenua and their relationship with the land.