The Maitland Story

10 September 2017 | General Interest

 Finally, on 9th September the pioneer sisters boarded the paddle steamer ‘Morpeth’, from Sydney and sailed up the coast and down the Hunter River, arriving at Morpeth, and travelling on to West Maitland joined by almost impassible mud roads, on 10th September 1867. They were greeted warmly by the people of the district and taken to St John’s Cathedral for Benediction and the ‘Te Deum’. Then the Bishop accompanied them to the new convent around the corner and said ‘you are home now at last’.

Vulnerable and trusting, the women summoned all their faith, courage and Dominican heritage and adapted quickly to their new environment. On 16th September, having obtained special permission from the Pope to leave the cloister and cross the small road, the Sisters took over St John’s National School. By 23rd September they were ready to open St Joseph’s Select Day School for Girls in the Convent. On 15th October some received teacher’s certificates and government salaries. By January 1868, within purpose built premises, they opened St Mary’s Boarding School. The first young Australian, Annie Murnane, joined the fledgeling community in 1871.

Over the next 150 years, the Community would open 21 secondary schools, 7 secondary boarding schools, open or take over 27 primary schools, 6 primary boarding schools, 11 entities for children with hearing-impairment, 2 schools for children with vision impairment and other disabling conditions, 2 teacher training institutions and a mission in the Solomon Islands, originally alongside South Australian Sisters and some friars as well as lay co-workers. All of this accumulated ministry, which has had a profound impact on the lives of thousands of students, families and co-workers has been accomplished by just 372 professed Sisters in the Australian section of the Congregation.

 

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