The Southern Cross The Southern Cross

Read the latest edition. Latest edition

Committed to education and dignity for all


Sr Catherine Clark RSJ (born April 29 1939, died April 22 2024)

Print article

Catherine Ellen Clark OAM was born in the South Australian mid-north town of Orroroo, eldest daughter of Peter and Agnes Clark, sister of Ellen and Matthew (deceased).

The family lived in Yatina, where Catherine began her schooling, but later moved to Orroroo. On completion of her primary school education the Clarks moved to Adelaide and settled in Kent Town, within distance of St Joseph’s Higher Primary School, later to be named Mary MacKillop College. They were parishioners at St Ignatius parish, Norwood.

On completion of their secondary schooling Catherine and Ellen both attended Adelaide Teachers College, completing their teaching qualifications in junior primary education. Whilst at ATC both Catherine and Ellen enjoyed and excelled in sport, particularly in cricket, participating in interstate collegial teams.

Catherine began her teaching profession in Eden Valley, a small rural town on the outskirts of Adelaide, commuting back to Norwood each weekend for family time, and playing basketball (netball) for NCGM, later to become the YCW.

It was a natural pathway for Catherine to enter the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart in 1962 as she was able to live her life in a way that enabled the one movement of prayer and action to permeate all of life.

Catherine initially taught at Dulwich in her postulancy year, before travelling interstate for her novitiate training, which was at Baulkham Hills, New South Wales. She was professed as Sr Patricia on January 6 1965 and completed her junior secondary training at St Joseph’s Training College in Sydney.

Catherine was an excellent teacher, educator and leader, paving the way for students and leaders to integrate faith, life, learning and culture. Catherine taught at
St Joseph’s in Pt Lincoln twice, once as a teacher and later as principal.  Similarly, Catherine taught at Mary MacKillop College, known as Sr Patricia, and returned as principal in 1986, having resumed her baptismal name of Catherine some 15 years earlier. Catherine also taught at Siena College, Findon and St Michael’s College, where she enabled and accompanied young women to find their place in co-education. During her teaching days Catherine returned to university for evening classes.

Catherine’s capacity for leadership was evident from her early days as a Josephite, as she was elected as a member of each General Chapter of the Sisters of St Joseph from the time of her final profession until 2013. Catherine served as provincial of the Sisters of St Joseph, South Australia, from 1990 and concluded her term at the close of 1995.

During her time in office the beatification of Blessed Mary MacKillop took place. Her capacity to bring God’s unconditional love to all she met and to every circumstance was the hallmark of her leadership as provincial.

The breadth and depth of Catherine’s ministry influenced governance and leadership across Catholic education in South Australia. She was a trusted adviser on education, representing the State Minister for education on committees.

Catherine’s contribution and perspective influenced national Catholic education through her contribution and unwavering representation of South Australia on various standing committees.

Her term as chairperson of the South Australian Commission for Catholic Schools had an extraordinary impact on the quality, access and affordability for families attending Catholic schools.

Catherine’s commitment to the many ministries of the Sisters of St Joseph in social welfare and aged care, in addition to her contribution to Diocesan works, enabled many to flourish. She contributed her gifts, skills, intellect and compassion to create pathways that led to dignity for so many who were experiencing marginalisation.

Catherine established boards to ensure the sustainability of good governance and practice to serve those in need. She served on Catherine House Board and negotiated funding and facilities in aged care for both the Josephites and other religious communities.

Catherine’s contribution to the development of Ministerial PJPs with the changing nature of religious institutes, particularly in education, was experienced across Australia. Her commitment to the formation and professional learning of leaders was illustrated in her becoming patron of the Adelaide Theological College.

Catherine embodied the qualities in the life and work of Mary MacKillop as she walked in her footsteps. Her capacity to create purposeful and transformative experiences for teachers, leaders and school communities in charism was experienced by those teaching and leading within the Josephite tradition and in many other charisms. She encouraged others to see the face of God through the charism of Mary MacKillop and enabled the gospel to be palpable and tangible in the ordinariness of life in the most extraordinary way.

– Sisters of St Joseph


More Obituaries stories

Loading next article