Honouring Australia’s first religious order

Final preparations for the opening of the Sisters of Charity Heritage Centre in Sydney (Supplied)

The Sisters of Charity, the first Catholic order in Australia, will next month open an archival museum in Sydney, celebrating their history and charism.

Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP will open the Sisters of Charity Heritage Centre in Potts Point on June 6. The centre will exemplify the significant contribution and achievements the order has made since the arrival of the five pioneer Sisters in Sydney in 1838.

“The Heritage Centre is designed to tell the story of the Sisters and the work they have done since arriving in Australia 180 years ago. It celebrates the Sisters of Charity story and that of religious women,” said Sr Clare Nolan, the congregational leader of the Sisters of Charity of Australia.

In 1836, Sydney Bishop Bede Polding requested help from the Church to help alleviate poverty among female convicts. Five sisters were recruited and they became known as the Sisters of Charity. They sailed into Sydney on New Year’s Eve in 1838 where they quickly saw they were needed in both education and health care.

Since that time, the Sisters have continued to respond to need in not only education, health, and aged care, but also social welfare and social justice. The order has founded many schools and hospitals across Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory.

Today, the Sisters of Charity act across many areas:

  • Sr Suzette Clark advocates for the prevention of human trafficking
  • Sr Jacinta Fong works in a hospital emergency room and has an uncanny knack of being able to calm down ICE addicts
  • Sr Clare Nolan and Sr Deidre Hickey run temporary housing for families of patients staying at St Vincent’s Darlinghurst, NSW
  • Sr Cathy Meese works as a counsellor in the prison ministry in Melbourne
  • Sr Margaret Guy works at the Jesuit Refugee Service in Parramatta
  • Sr Jan O’Grady teaches special needs children
  • Sr Anne Mayberry provides assistance and transport to impoverished rural communities across NSW
  • Sr Christine Henry travels across Western Queensland to bring “wellness days” to drought and poverty-stricken rural women.

The Sisters of Charity Heritage Centre includes an experiential display of key elements of the life and work of the Sisters of Charity in Australia. The Centre also includes a meeting room and contemplative spaces including the St Vincent’s Chapel and courtyard


The Sisters of Charity Heritage Centre to open in June 2019 (Sisters of Charity)

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