MERCY, THE BATHURST CONGREGATION OF THE SISTERS OF
On 31st October, 1866, seven Sisters of Mercy, under the leadership of Mother Mary Ignatius Croke, arrived in Bathurst, New South Wales, from Charleville, County Cork, Ireland. The Charleville Convent had been established in 1836 by the Foundress of the Sisters of Mercy, Catherine McAuley. In Bathurst the Sisters immediately took over the Catholic Primary School, and opened a Day and Boarding High School for young ladies, attending to the religious and secular education of the children. They also cared for orphans, trained older girls and helped them to find work, and visited the poor, the sick and the inmates of the local gaol.
Several groups of young women later came from Charleville and other parts of Ireland to join the Bathurst Mercy Sisters, and many Australian-born girls also entered the Bathurst Convent. The increased numbers allowed the Sisters to found Convents and carry on their work in other Central and Western New South Wales towns: Carcoar and Mudgee in 1874; Orange in 1878; Dubbo and Parkes in 1880; Forbes in 1881; Wellington in 1883; Cobar in 1884; Bourke in 1891; Narromine in 1904; Trangie in 1914. (The Parkes Foundation lasted only until 1883, being taken over by the Sisters of St. Joseph, and much later by the Wilcannia-Forbes Mercy Sisters.) After the Wilcannia Diocese was established in 1887, the Sisters in Cobar and Bourke remained in that Diocese, rather than returning to the Bathurst Diocese. They eventually joined with others to form the Wilcannia-Forbes (Parkes) Mercy Congregation.
Between 1890 and 1908, the Convents of Bathurst, Dubbo, Mudgee and Forbes were required by the Bishop of Bathurst to set up their own Novitiates and Branch Houses. However, in 1908, these Convents, with their Branch Houses of Orange, Carcoar, Wellington and Narromine, were amalgamated to form the Bathurst Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy, with a Mother General residing in Bathurst, and a single Novitiate located there.
In later years, the Bathurst Mercy Sisters also founded Convents and Schools at Binnaway (1933) and Glen Davis (1949). They continue to minister in many parts of the Bathurst Diocese and beyond it.
Further Suggested Reading:
Anonymous Sisters of Mercy, Bathurst 100 years, 1866-1966. Bathurst: Sisters of Mercy, 1966
Meagher, Michael Advent of the Sisters of Mercy, Bathurst, 1866. Bathurst: McCarter & Quealy, 1931
If further information is required about individual Sisters the following address is given:
St. Joseph’s Mount,
P.O. Box 81
BATHURST NSW 2795
In writing to the Archivist, it would be appropriate that a financial contribution be made for the Archivist’s time and expertise.
Religious Orders or Congregations have released the details on their members. It is understood that the copyright of any material (including the listing of the names of the Sisters) relevant to a particular Order or Congregation in this publication remains with the relevant Order or Congregation.