St Joseph's Church, Jerusalem
Whanganui River Road
Together with St Joseph’s Church the site, 64km from Whanganui, is widely regarded for its idyllic setting in the landscape, as well as being a visitor destination with a rich social and religious history.
The convent was built in 1892 as the base for the order of the Sisters of Compassion, which was founded at the site that same year by Mother Mary Joseph (Suzanne) Aubert (1835–1926) to care for Maori and the poor. The convent was built near St Joseph’s Church (Category I) to house the Sisters and serve as a base for their missionary work.
Jerusalem is well known for poet James K Baxter’s time there between 1969-72 where he established an alternative community featuring a blend of Maoritanga and Catholicism. When Baxter died in 1972 he was buried at Jerusalem.
Today St Joseph’s Convent remains an integral part of the community. From its inception, the convent operated as the local school within the Native School System, as well as housing the Sisters and orphaned or destitute children. As a dispensary for Mother Aubert’s medicinal remedies, a Post Office agency, and holder of the local Births, Deaths and Marriages Register, the convent was a main focal point of social activity at Jerusalem and for the wider area over many decades.