The Pioneering Spirit of Catholic Education in Australia: Presentation Sisters

14 Oct 2021

Above: St Mary’s College Hobart First Presentation School in Australia.

The Presentation Sisters’ contribution to Catholic education began in Australia in 1866. Bishop of Hobart (later Archbishop) Daniel Murphy had arranged with the Mother Superior of the Presentation Order, who also happened to be his sister, for the Sisters to travel from the Presentation Convent in Fermoy, Ireland to establish a school in the Diocese.

Four Presentation Sisters and five postulants arrived in Hobart after a three month journey where they first established and taught at a small local school in Richmond. On 3 February
1868 the Sisters opened Mount St Mary’s convent and school next to the Cathedral in Harrington Street in Hobart. In 1873 four additional Sisters and two postulants arrived from
Limerick Ireland to establish a convent and school in St Kilda, Victoria.

Presentation Sisters from Ireland continued to travel to areas across Australia to establish convents and schools. The Sisters travelled to regional towns in New South Wales, first from Kildare Ireland to Wagga Wagga in 1874 where days after arriving they founded a school with
130 children; Sisters from Lucan travelled to Lismore in 1884 and built and opened a parish school for 200 students within a month of their arrival.

Four Sisters and five postulants from Sneem Ireland travelled to Geraldton in Western Australia in 1891.

The Sisters from Wagga Wagga also established new foundations in
Elsternwick Victoria in 1882, and Hay in regional New South Wales in 1883. In 1899 the newly appointed Bishop of Rockhampton Joseph Higgins, also requested the Wagga Wagga Sisters staff a parish school and open a high school in the rural town of Longreach in Queensland.

In 1900, a number of Hay Presentation Sisters travelled from NSW to Southern Cross in the goldfields of Western Australia.

As well as serving the Presentation primary and secondary schools in the country, Sisters have also been engaged in teachers’ colleges, universities and in Catholic Education

The Nagle Education Alliance of Australia Inc (NEAA) was established
in 2013, which is an organisation of schools committed to the Presentation charism. NEAA has far reaching membership of schools that were started by the Presentation Sisters across Australia.

The Presentation Sisters mission and values remain alive in the attitudes and actions of the many students and educators, in over 200 schools and other agencies across the country,
who continue to be inspired by the Presentation charism.


St Mary’s College, History, accessed 2021.
Presentation Society 2016, “Celebrating 150 years Presentation
Sisters in Tasmania”, access 2021.
Mercy Partners, “Presentation Sisters”, accessed 2021.


Pioneer Catholic Educator remembered

Pioneer Catholic Educator remembered

Image: Fr John Neill OP OAM with Blackfriars Priory School students in 2016.  For 200 years Catholic schools have been established and staffed by pioneer clergy, religious and lay educators, many of whom devoted their entire lives to Catholic education.  "Let us not...

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