Caritas College Port Augusta Remembers
This past weekend (11th March) marked the 140th Anniversary of the death of Sister Laurencia Honner, the newly professed Sister, who in 1878 went to live and teach in Port Augusta.
The first Sisters had arrived in the town in 1871. However when Laurencia arrived, there was still no-purpose built school or church, instead a two storey building had been acquired to house the Sisters and provide a space for teaching during the week and for devotions or Mass on Sundays (there being no resident priest).
It was here in the church/school that disaster struck on Sunday 4th March, 1878. After Benediction that evening, while extinguishing the kerosene sanctuary lamp in preparation for school the following morning, Sisters Laurencia Honner and Immaculata Punyer were accidentally burnt. Years later, Sister Immaculata recalled the incident:
For most of the week, both Sisters, suffering from the burns, were nursed by the women of the local community and the local Doctor. Sr. Laurencia’s pain was excruciating and she died on Sunday 11th March. She was 19 years old.
The next afternoon, after an early morning Requiem Mass, a huge crowd gathered for her funeral and accompanied her body to her burial place at the foot of the Flinders Ranges in the Stirling North Cemetery. From the local paper we read:
It is a consoling picture we have of Mary MacKillop attending Sr Laurencia’s funeral, and staying on to comfort the Sisters.
The stained-glass window which now adorns our school, came from the old convent and was donated by Sarah and Richard Honner in memory of their young daughter.
Each year on or near her Anniversary, the Caritas College School Leaders and Class SRC’s gather around her grave, her story is retold and after the Gospel and prayers, her tomb is blessed and 19 roses are placed on this her final resting place in the shadow of the Flinders Ranges.
Helen Duke rsj