It is with great sadness the last of the Sisters of St Joseph has left the Diocese of Geraldton with the departure of Sr Betty Keane rsj from the Newman Parish. Bishop Justin Bianchini, in welcoming Sr Betty to Newman, stated, 'Thank you for accepting this special Mission in the isolated north of our Diocese", as that is what it was. Hot, isolated and without modern comforts and would take a special person to take up the challenge. Sr Betty, with her naturally strong Irish determination, rose above and beyond what that Mission originally entailed.

Over many years in the Parish Sr Betty has worked along side and supported four Parish Priests, Fr Jan Oostdyck MHM, Fr Jude Agorchukwu CSSp, Fr Zygmunt Wloczek SDS, Fr Steve Casey, and many supply Priests. In this last six months she has welcomed Fr Tam Duong to the Parish as Priest-in-Charge and has handed over the reigns to him with a word or two of wisdom to guide him.  She has been the one constant in the Parish throughout the years in a transient community, but now it has come time to say goodbye. Sr Betty has certainly emulated through out her Ministry the quiet love and gentle presence of St Joseph in Newman for 20 years. A great achievement indeed. 

In his letter to Sr Brigette Sipa rsj, the Josephite Regional Leader, Bishop Michael echoed what all of us, who know her, would concur, "Betty emulated through her life the quiet love and gentle presence of St Joseph in Newman for 20 years". 

The Sisters of St Joseph have had an amazing legacy in the Diocese of Geraldton which began in the distant past, in the late 19th Century when they arrived in Northampton in 1887 and remained for ten years operating the Convent school which the Mercy Sisters had commenced in 1883 and operated for four years. In 1897 the Josephites left the Diocese and returned to particularly the north of our diocese, beginning in February 1972, when Sr Carla Curran and Sr Patricia Enright first arrived in Karratha. These Sister's ministry in the early days of 1972 was far and wide, serving Dampier, Roebourne, Wickham, Pannawonica, Tom Price, Paraburdoo and Wittenoom. All very small towns at the time, in a very extensive area that required a lot of travel in vehicles not equipped with today's standards of comfort!

Five years later their Karratha Ministry concluded at the end of 1977 with the arrival of the Presentation Sisters to staff the newly opened St Paul’s Primary School located in Karratha. 

In 1977 the Josephites remained based at their convent in Tom Price continuing their outreach across the region. They returned to Karratha nineteen years later in 1996 with Sr Kath Dawe rsj and Sr Mary Ellen O'Donohue rsj continuing their ministry there for ten years.  

In 1995 when the Mercy Sisters vacated Newman Sr Lyn Sparling rsj was the first Josephite to arrive in Newman to extend the Josephite Ministry and it was not until 1996 that the Josephites were present in Geraldton with the arrival of Sr Leonie Mayne rsj into the position of the Regional Officer at the Catholic Education Office, which was then located in Durlacher Street. Sr Lyn joined her here in 1997 to lead the Liturgy and music in St Francis Xavier Cathedral and surrounding parish schools.

It is fitting to end this article announcing the sad departure of Sr Betty with Bishop Michael's own words from his letter to Sr Brigette, "On behalf of the Diocese of Geraldton I express my grateful thanks to the Sisters of St Joseph for their rich and diverse ministry over many years in the Diocese of Geraldton. All of us wish Sr Betty every blessing in her retirement in Perth. I know that her plans changed with the unexpected death of her dear sister, Margaret, who is now buried in Perth, but it is wonderful to know that her sister, Sr Teresa, has joined her in Perth so that, together, they can enjoy each other’s company in retirement with the Sisters of St Joseph in Perth.

May God continue to richly bless the Sisters of St Joseph in every way as their presence blessed our families and communities in the diocese."

Thank you Sr Betty for all you have done.