Home' The Southern Cross : August 2015 Contents The Loreto Sisters celebrate 140 years
in Australia this year with first beginnings
in Ballarat, Victoria, quickly spreading
across the nation to South Australia, and
Marryatville in particular.
Pioneering Mother Gonzaga Barry stepped
off the ship, SS Somersetshire. from
Ireland onto Australian soil on July 19,
The arrival of Loreto’s founding sisters
was a response to an appeal by Bishop of
Ballarat Dr Michael O’Connor asking the
sisters to open the first Loreto school in
Australia in Ballarat, Victoria.
Mother Gonzaga came to Adelaide at the
invitation of Archbishop John O’Reilly and
following a letter from her friend Saint Mary
MacKillop, who told her: “There is work
for you to do in Adelaide that no one else
will do. Your house there will yet be the
most important of all your foundations in
Mother Gonzaga arrived in Adelaide
on January 14, 1905, with Mother
Boniface Volker as first Superior and
Mother Bertrand and set up a convent in
Sydneham Rd, Norwood. The first Loreto
school opened in February at Norwood,
with the help of the Sisters of St Joseph,
with five inaugural pupils.
By 1907, there were 70 students and the
Loreto school moved to a larger house
on The Parade. By 1909 adjacent land
had been acquired and a new hall and
dormitory opened, but numbers continued
In 1920, after the death of Sir Edwin
Smith, his home, The Acacias, became
available and the Loreto school moved to
Marryatville, where it remains today with
about 800 students enrolled from the Early
Learning Centre to Year 12.
The College this year celebrated its 110th
The early sacrifices Mother Gonzaga and
her nine companions made in leaving
behind family, friends and other loved ones
to enter the unknown are still being felt
today by Loreto women and men touched
by her profound legacy.
The 59-day journey to Victoria was long
and arduous, with accounts from the
sisters saying “the ship was constantly
heaving and lurching”, resulting in those on
board, especially Mother Gonzaga, being
in a perpetual state of sickness. One man
died on their voyage from bronchitis, as
Mother Gonzaga wrote in her diary: “The
great cold and damp here generally make
an attack fatal. On the last voyage, two
gentlemen passengers died.”
Mother Gonzaga was born into a middle
class family in Wexford, Ireland, in 1834.
She was the eldest of seven children. She
was 19 when she was received as a novice
While still a novice, and at just 22, she
became mistress of the day school at
Rathfarnham, and at 25 was appointed
mistress of novices at Gorey. Not long
after establishing the Loreto Convent in
Enniscorthy in 1872 she was asked to lead
a mission to Australia.
During her 40 years in Australia she
founded 13 schools, two teacher-training
colleges, as well as taking over the running
of at least seven parish schools.
Page 14 August 2015
vocations week august 2 – 9
I love the title ‘Take the Plunge’ that
Timothy Radcliffe OP uses for his book on
Baptism. It reminds us that in Baptism we
are plunged into the mystery of Jesus.
At our Baptism, God discerns the “face”
of Jesus in each of us and calls us to be
that image of Christ. A personal vocation
is bestowed on us – a unique God-given
meaning is given to each one’s life. We
receive the gift of faith. As we begin to live
in faith, we make the astonishing discovery
that we have been chosen and that “God’s
choice of us precedes our choice of God.”
Vocation cannot be reduced to a state of
life, like priesthood or marriage or religious
life. Those commitments may indeed give
us a valuable, functional way of living out
our personal vocation in communion with
others but our true consecration to God
is uniquely personal; it belongs to the
deepest self and was initiated at Baptism.
Recently a young man was tapping his
way around my home testing for termites.
We got talking about faith matters. He
admitted to being a disillusioned Catholic.
With shining eyes, however, he shared an
illuminating experience he had as a 16
year old. I asked him what meaning he’d
taken from the experience. He replied:
“Ever since, I feel confident in my heart
that I belong to God who calls me to be a
I was privileged to hear how God’s grace
flowing from his Baptism, re-ignited in his
youthful heart, had awakened the unique
meaning of his life. He certainly had his
God-given identity and life-script.
As life moves on, the dynamic character of
our personal vocation may grow and take
on a specific ‘life-form’.
It may also fade from consciousness, or
take on new aspects but it will forever
carry God’s promise: “I have called you by
your name; you are mine.”
The Sisters of St Joseph was founded
in Penola SA in 1866 by Saint Mary of
the Cross MacKillop and Father Tenison
Woods. There are currently 90 Sisters
ministering in SA. Their works include
education, family support, aged care and
care for the marginalised.
Sister Gen Ryan is based in Adelaide
and is a member of the Congregation,
Immersion and Discernment of Call
A life-long conversation with God
Rough seas start lasting Loreto legacy
1930: Loreto Sisters at the ‘Acacias’ building at Marryatville, the current site of Loreto College, which this year celebrates 110
years. (L-R) Mothers Barbara McDonald, Stanislaus McDonald, Aloysius Leeson and Brigid Jones.
To transform the Church and the world particularly
by empowering women to seek truth and do justice.
An international community
Committed to the Gospel
Inspired by Mary Ward
Missioned where the need is greatest
Finding God in all things
Firmly believing in the capacity of women to contribute
“something more than ordinary in the face of common need.”
Mary Ward (1585-1645)
To find out more about the works of the Loreto Sisters visit www.loreto.org.au or call 03 9813 4023
Seek truth ... do justice.
By Sister Gen Ryan rsj
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