A Sacred Heart sister who taught at Kincoppal-Rose Bay School in Sydney, and an Irish mother who worked as a bursar at a Perth Catholic college were among those killed in the Malaysia Airlines flight that was shot down over Ukraine.
Sister Philomene Tiernan rscj was remembered as a much-loved friend and teacher at Kincoppal, and Edel Mahady was described as a 'tiger mother' by her family.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that almost 300 people died following a suspected surface-to-air missile attack on flight MH17 in Ukraine on Friday.
Hilary Johnston-Croke, who is principal of Kincoppal-Rose Bay in eastern Sydney, has written to parents confirming that Sister Philomene was one of the 28 Australian victims of the crash. 'We are devastated by the loss of such a wonderfully kind, wise and compassionate woman who was greatly loved by us all,' she wrote.
'This has come as an enormous shock to me and our school community as I am sure it will to all of you.'
Mrs Johnston-Croke described Sister Philomene as her mentor. 'Phil was a very much loved staff member and friend,' she said. 'She contributed greatly to our community and she touched the lives of all at KRB in such a positive and meaningful way.'
Year 3 to Year 12 students from the school were informed of her death on Friday with a group of the children performing a liturgy for their teacher.
Sister Philomene had been attending a retreat in France, Mrs Johnston-Croke said. Anthony Cleary, director of religious education at the NSW Catholic Education Office, said Sister Philomene will be missed by members of her congregation.