Celebrating 150 years Presentation Sisters in Tasmania
October 31, 2016 marks 150 years since the first Presentation Sisters arrived in Australia, landing at Hobart Tasmania in 1866.
Our Tasmanian Sisters, friends, Associates, co-workers and St Mary’s College Hobart alumni and wider school community will celebrate together on Saturday 29 October.
The months from July 20 to October 31, 1866 saw four Presentation sisters from Cork Ireland: Mother Xavier (Ellen) Murphy, Sisters Stanislaus O’Brien, Regis Murphy, Ignatius Murphy and five postulants: Ellen Beechinor, Kate Russell, Ellen Keller, Eliza Cronin and Brigid Foley on the high seas sailing to a far-flung colony where everything, even the night sky, seemed upside down.
The photo from 1866 shows many of the original Sisters who travelled to Tasmania from Ireland:
These pioneer Sisters were inspired by the spirit of our Founder, Nano Nagle, expressed in the following poem written by Victorian Presentation Sister, Raphael Considine:
‘Go out! For need calls loudly in the winding lanes.
And you must seek Christ there.
Your pilgrim heart shall urge you still one pace beyond,
And love shall be your lantern flame.’
The ‘winding lanes’ of Cork led these followers of Nano to the bush and hills of Tasmania.
The initiative to bring young Irish women to Australia to educate the children of struggling immigrants was quite a family affair. The Bishop of Hobart at the time, Daniel Murphy, paid a home visit to his family in Cork, Ireland and persuaded his sister Ellen (Superior of the local Presentation convent at Fermoy) to lead and establish a Presentation Foundation in Hobart.
When the group of missionary Sisters arrived in Hobart on October 31, their Convent and School were not yet complete. They lived in Richmond, teaching in a small, local school until early February 1868 when they were able, at last, to open the doors of Mount St Mary’s next to the Cathedral in Harrington Street, Hobart.
The Sisters will celebrate this wonderful milestone on Saturday, 29th October at St. Mary’s Cathedral, Hobart, with all those with whom we have shared our Presentation Journey into the present day.
(Sr) Gabrielle Morgan PBVM
Leader, Presentation Congregation Tasmania