Friday, October 14, 2011

In the Footsteps of Mary MacKillop - The Rocks

Our historical excursions around Sydney would not be complete without following the footsteps of Saint Mary MacKillop in The Rocks area of Sydney.

Guided by the book, A Pilgrimage Through The Rocks, Sydney by Sister Jeanette Foxe rsj 2010, we took a walking tour and came upon parts of Sydney that we had not seen before. The Sisters of Saint Joseph had a presence in The Rocks from 1880 to 1901 where they set up Houses of Providence to minister to the poor and homeless. The Jospehites, as the Sisters were known, also taught at several schools in the area.

Like many of the early historical buildings in The Rocks, several of the Houses of Providence and the buildings housing Josephite schools have been demolished and the sites redeveloped.

However two significant "Mary" sites are still standing in Kent Street.

The first is St Brigid's Church (photo of outside at left and interior at right above).

It was completed in 1835 under the auspices of Governor Sir Richard Bourke "as a Roman Catholic School House to be occasionally used as a Chapel". The building originally housed a school for boys started by the Christian Brothers in 1843. The Josephites taught there from 1884 to 1898.

Today it is a beautiful little Church - a rare find.

The second site is Winsbury 75-79 Kent Street (photo at right ). It was the third House of Providence rented by the Sisters of Saint Joseph from 30 July 1880. Mary MacKillop resided there from February -March 1881.

No longer standing is Cheshunt, the fourth and largest House of Providence, at 3 Cumberland Street, now the site of the Harbour View Hotel. Mary stayed here from December 1882-March 1883 and again from November 1883-March 1884. Next door to Cheshunt was the parish Church of St Michael's built in 1882. It was from here that Mary's Mother, Flora MacKillop was buried following her drowning in the shipwreck of the Ly-ee-Moon off Eden, NSW on 30 May 1886.

Another is St Bridget's Hall School, 89-113 Kent Street, now the site of the Observatory Hotel. The Josephites ran this school for girls from August 1880 until it closed in 1886.

For a History of the Roman Catholic Church in the Colony of New South Wales 1800-1836, go to the Resources link in the website of History Services NSW at

No comments:

Post a Comment