St Joseph’s School Peterborough community were thrilled with the news that Mary MacKillop, founder of their school, will be made Australia’s first Saint!
It is such an honour to be part of her story and they look forward to celebrating with the people of Peterborough later in the year.They have just named the lane between the Church and former convent/boarding house in Peterborough, Mary MacKillop Lane.
Catholic Education in Peterborough
In 1886 Petersburg, as the town was then named, was proclaimed a Municipality. Catholic education facilities have, therefore, been in existence as long as the town itself, because it was in April of that year when Miss At O’Loughlin opened the first Catholic School in a wood and iron building that was to be both a Church and school. The photo above shows the teacher and pupils soon after the opening. The bell on top of the building, besides being used for school, also called the faithful to Mass on Sundays. When the roll call exceeded 100, an assistant teacher, Miss McGrievie, was engaged.
On January 16th, 1897, the foundress of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart, Mother Mary of the Cross, arrived in Petersburg to take over the school. She was accompanied by Sister Benizi (who was placed in charge of the school), Sister M. Joseph, Sister Clotilde and Sister Aloysius Joseph. They were met at the station by Rev. Father Norton who took them to the newly blessed Convent, purchased for them on Railway Terrace.
Mother Mary spent the next week in the school, organising and arranging classes. It is recorded that the foundress passed through the town on other occasions in the following months. Conditions were very trying for those pioneer Nuns; the small iron building, since enlarged, was very hot in summer and cold in winter. Amenities, as we know them today, were non.existent. The town was small and scattered, extending from west of the Loco Sheds, to an area that was known as "Cockranetown", almost to Gumbowie. Several of the scholars had to walk or ride horses many miles to school.
Taken from "The Catholic Story, of Peterborough" Published by the Peterborough Centenary Committee 1976