Mother Xavier Williams

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On the last day of the year 1838, the first five women Religious ever to set foot on Australian soil landed in Sydney after a long sea voyage from Ireland. They were Sisters of Charity – sent by their Founder, Mother Mary Aikenhead – and among the group was the novice, Sister Xavier Williams.

Sister Xavier Williams was destined to write a few pages in the Australian History: The first woman Religious to make public Profession of Vows in the young Colony.

A member of the group of three to sail across Bass Strait in June 1847 to pioneer Convent Life and Ministry in Hobart, Tasmania.

She is named in records as the first Religious Principal of a Tasmania school – St Joseph’s Girls’ School, in Macquarie Street.

In the early years, the Sisters visited and instructed the Catholic female convicts at the Cascades Female Factory and H.M.S. Anson; patients in the Hospital; the poor and sick in their homes; and the orphans in the Queen’s orphanage at New Town.

In 1871, Sister Xavier Williams became the Mother Superior of the Tasmanian Sisters of Charity and when the Government orphanage closed she was very concerned about the future of those still in need of care. She was able to purchase an office block opposite the convent in Harrington Street and opened St Joseph’s Orphanage in 1879.

The year 1889 was the year of her Golden Jubilee and of her eighty-ninth birthday.
H

er photograph taken at that time shows a gently aged lady who had endured much and loved greatly. She then began negotiations for amalgamation with the Sisters of Charity in Sydney, and when that became a reality she gracefully retired to wait the call from God whom she had served so faithfully.

It came on 8 April 1892, and hundreds of people mourned the passing of their friends.

THE WISDOM OF MARY AIKENHEAD
When we have so much to praise the Lord for, we must not complain.
THE WISDOM OF MARY AIKENHEAD
True affection is to rejoice in the happiness of our dear ones. Never allow a sentiment of resentment to enter into our hearts.
THE WISDOM OF MARY AIKENHEAD
Pray, reflect and consult – and may the divine spirit direct all to God’s greater glory.
THE WISDOM OF MARY AIKENHEAD
May our dear Lord Jesus fill your hearts with His own love. Amen!
THE WISDOM OF MARY AIKENHEAD
We must have patience with others as He has patience with us.
THE WISDOM OF MARY AIKENHEAD
Under every difficulty try to pray fervently.
THE WISDOM OF MARY AIKENHEAD
We have much to thank Him for, even for those little drawbacks on our comforts and conveniences.
THE WISDOM OF MARY AIKENHEAD
Do pray that justice may be accomplished in peace and that truth may prevail.
THE WISDOM OF MARY AIKENHEAD
Go on now as steadily as you can, relying on the Divine assistance and fear not.
THE WISDOM OF MARY AIKENHEAD
What we do ought to be done well.

The Sisters of Charity acknowledge the First Peoples and traditional custodians of this land where we live. We respect, value and honour their history, culture and spirituality. We are committed to standing in solidarity and to actively working for justice, peace and harmony in this land.

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