The Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of the Heart of Jesus has its origin in Victoria, Gozo, Malta. Mother Margherita De Brincat, who together with Father Joseph Diacono, founded this Congregation, was born in Gozo on the 28th November 1862.
She became the first Mother General in 1888 when the founder Father Joseph Diacono was going to dissolve the Congregation and she, guided by divine intervention, accepted the responsibility. She led the Congregation with prudence, wisdom and goodness for about fifty years either as Superior General or Vicar General.
From Gozo our Congregation spread to Malta and later on to different parts of the world. At the end of 1953, while visiting the Maltese Community in Mackay, Archbishop Michael Gonzi, the Archbishop of Malta, was asked by Bishop Tynan, Bishop of Rockhampton, about the possibility of starting a Maltese Religious Order there. Archbishop Gonzi contacted Mother Louisa Busuttil, our Congregational Leader at that time who gladly accepted to send the first group of six Sisters from Malta.
On the 23 April 1954, the Sisters left Malta and after a whole month of sailing arrived in Brisbane where they were welcomed by Father Vella who took them to Rockhampton.
On the 6th June, the Sisters arrived at the Mackay Airport from where they were taken to their new convent which was then blessed and officially opened by Bishop Tynan. In September of that same year the Sisters opened St. Vincent de Paul Nursing Home in Mackay, later to be known as Francis of Assisi Home, The following year, two Sisters went to Rockhampton to start their Ministry at the Bishop's House, while more Sisters were continuously sent from Malta.
The tree that was planted there took root and started spreading its branches to other States. Other Sisters went to Wanawong (N.S.W.) 1959 and founded St. Francis of Assisi Primary School in 1960. Another community then started their ministry at the Wollongong (N.S.W.) Bishop's House in 1961. A community was sent in 1962 to Medindie (S.A.) at the Bishop's House, while another one founded St. Raphael's Home for the Blind in Fullarton (S.A.) in 1971 which was later transferred to Lockleys (S.A.) in 1987. In 1991 the sisters bought the old friary house in Lockleys and made it their Regional House.
At Port Kembla (N.S.W.) the Sisters of St. Joseph were leaving and our -Sisters moved into their Convent and took over the administration and teaching at St. Patrick's School in 1978. In 1992 the Regional Superior took residence at the Regional House in Lockleys close to St. Raphael's Home for the Aged. Because of lack of personnel the Sisters had to be withdrawn from the Bishop's Houses to support our communities in their various apostolates and parish pastoral care.
Up to this present date ninety-one sisters treaded on Australian soil and carried out their apostolate according to God's gifts and individual capabilities, such as teaching, administration, nursing, catechesis, aged care, parish ministry, pastoral care and spiritual direction. We owe the history of our Region `Sacred Heart' to the dedicated and prayerful sisters who worked selflessly during these fifty years. Twenty-four are still giving witness to our Congregational Charism in Australia and with great support from the local Bishops, priests, religious and laity can gladly perform their ministry in the Church and society.
We gladly give thanks to the Lord for all the graces He showered on us during these fifty years in Australia. With our Foundress, the Servant of God, Mother Margherita De Brincat, we continue to `Love Him and make others love Him everywhere'.
Mother Margherita realized that she had to build her life and the life of the Congregation, as St. Francis did, on the Gospel in intimate union with God, sincere humility, joyous simplicity, evangelical poverty, apostolic zeal and service towards those in need.
She did this while placing at the centre of her life, an ardent love for the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Eucharist, in an attitude of adoration, immolation and reparation.
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