One Hundred Years in Albert Street

One hundred years ago this Friday, on Saturday 15 May 1920, additions to St Joseph’s Providence in Albert Street East Melbourne were blessed and opened by His Grace the Archbishop of Melbourne, the Most Reverend Dr Daniel Mannix.

To meet the need for etended accommodation at St Joseph’s Providence in East Melbourne the Sisters of St Joseph purchased the two-storey residence adjoining the Providence. The property was built as a townhouse and owned by Dr and Mrs Howitt.

After officiating at the blessing and opening of the additions to St Joseph’s Providence, His Grace then opened a fete in the grounds of St Patrick’s College, East Melbourne in aid of the ‘Home’, which was to become known as St Joseph’s Hostel for the next sixty plus years. In addition to His Grace the Archbishop of Melbourne, who was about to set sail on a visit to the “old countries”, others present included the Bishop of Sale, the Right Reverend Dr Phelan, the Bishop of Ballarat, the Right Reverend Dr Foley and the Administrator of the Bendigo Diocese, the Very Reverend Dean Rooney. A guard of honour was provided by the children attending the schools conducted by the Sisters of St Joseph. It was quite an occasion.

The Advocate reported that in declaring the Fete open, Archbishop Mannix said he was “always glad to do whatever he could for the Sisters of St Joseph.” Furthermore, he “would not fail to tell the people on the other side of the world that the Australian Sisterhood of St Joseph were the equals of any Sisters in the whole of the Catholic world.”

According to the report, the fete had been organised to assist the Sisters in “carrying on” their Home for girls desiring to live with them, in preference to going into ordinary boarding houses in Melbourne. It was a very necessary provision and was deserving of generous support.

The Garland of St Joseph dated 1 July 1920 noted that the Mother-General of the St Joseph Order was present at the blessing of the additions to St Joseph’s Providence, East Melbourne on Saturday 15 May. She was making her annual visit from Mount Street, North Sydney.

Today, a century later, the former townhouse and hostel is part of the Mary MacKillop Heritage Centre and home to the O’Callaghan Community. We hope to celebrate this special anniversary at the Mary MacKillop Heritage Centre with the residents of the O’Callaghan Community later in 2020.

Garry McLean, CEO
LLoyd Fisk, Archivist,
Mary MacKillop Heritage Centre