Two Presentation Sisters receive Australian Medal Honours
Rosemary Terry from Presentation Sisters Wagga Wagga and Mary Kavanagh from Presentation Sisters Victoria have been honoured with the award of Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).
Rosemary Terry was honoured for her 24 years of service as a prison chaplain. The local Wagga Wagga paper Daily Advertiser featured Rosemary’s life story and work at Junee Correctional Centre in rural NSW, together with an interview by video, when her OAM was announced on 26 January 2017. Read and watch here
Mary Kavanagh was honoured with an OAM on 26 January 2017 for her service to education and to the Presentation Sisters Victoria. Mary Kavanagh was Principal of Presentation College Windsor from 1961 to 1970. Mary was an important speaker at the 140th Year of PCW in 2013-14 – see our article on this event.
Mary’s historical research contributions began with her M.Ed. thesis, The Educational Work of the Presentation Sisters in Victoria, 1873 to 1960. For the sesquicentenary of the State of Victoria in 1985, Mary’s address and paper, Catholic Education in Victoria, 1872-1947 was published in Catholic Education in Victoria, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. For five years, Mary lectured on the History and Philosophy of Catholic Education to student teachers at Christ College, Chadstone, and has consistently encouraged and sponsored the upgrading of teacher qualifications.
In accepting the award, Mary’s reaction was, “I trust this OAM award be regarded as a recognition of the voluntary efforts of Religious Congregations in establishing and maintaining Catholic Education after the passing of the Victorian Education Act of 1872, an era (with all its strengths and weaknesses) that is rapidly passing into history.”
On reflection Mary believes, “If ever I had to identify The Year that Made Me, it would be 1937, when, in the shadow of the Great Depression, Sr Leo, in the small country primary school of St Joseph’s, Iona, so earnestly coached us towards the secondary pathway of Diocesan/Junior Government scholarships.
With the Sisters of St Joseph and the Presentation Sisters in mind, I have ever been conscious of the special problems of isolated country students and have always promoted the Boarding School – Resident Student Ministry.”
Looking to the future, Mary’s advice would be “Give close attention to maintaining and developing the best of our Catholic ethos within our educational institutions, in the changing Australian context of a multi-faith society.”
One past pupil succinctly summed up the impressions of so many parents, students and friends when she said, “You have been a marvellous educator of so many; you have touched so many lives – your gentleness and professionalism has been admired and appreciated by all.”
For over seventy years, Mary has maintained a close and energetic association with schools, teachers and, especially, students and past pupils.
Robin O’Donovan pbvm