Brigidine Sisters Centenary Celebrations

About this Item
SpeakersDaley Mr Michael; Judge Ms Virginia
BusinessPrivate Members Statements

Page: 3863

Mr MICHAEL DALEY (Maroubra—Parliamentary Secretary) [11.26 a.m.]: On 11 September I was pleased to have been invited to a mass at the Holy Family Church at Maroubra to celebrate the Brigidine Charism in Maroubra and the Centenary of the Brigidine Sisters in Australia. I thank Bernard Carey, principal of St Aidans Primary School, for that invitation. During the mass Mr Carey recounted the history of the Brigidine Sisters and of St Aidans Primary School:
      How did the Sisters start? The Founder of the group was a Bishop in Ireland, Bishop Daniel Delaney who got together six ladies ... in 1807 ...

Mr Greg Smith: A good Irish man.

Mr MICHAEL DALEY: I agree with the member for Epping; he was a good Irish man. Mr Carey said:
      The Sisters' motto was "Strength and Gentleness"...

That is still their motto. Mr Carey noted that the Sisters always tried to be kind and fair, even if it meant that they had to be strict. I have experience of the Brigidine Sisters, as they were my first educators—and of my sister, Maree, and my brothers Paul and Peter—at St Joseph's school at Maroubra Beach. Both Sister Elaine and Sister Barbara, who were the principals during my time at that school, did a terrific job, even if I say so myself. In 1915 the Brigidine Sisters came to Maroubra. Mr Carey recounts:
      The Brigidine Sisters dressed in black habits, black veils, black gloves and black shoes tramping the sandy paths from Randwick to Maroubra every school day. There were no roads, no buses, no taxis, only one tram going to La Peruse past the gaol.

In 1915 the Sisters began school in the school hall—at that stage Mother Paul King led the Sisters. Mr Carey described the school hall as follows:
      It was a very simple building then, with partitions between each classroom and a red curtain separating the stage, where the Altar for Mass was, from the rest of the hall ... The whole area around the school was one huge sandy paddock and the sandstorms used to sweep in and cover everything in white sand. The Sisters carried their cases to school and these held their books, the pupils' exercises and their lunch of bread and butter and a piece of fruit.

Mr Carey said, "It was a long, hard day and the Sisters did a terrific job." I agree. The Sisters have had great success in Australia, in New South Wales and in our area establishing St Joseph's and St Mary's schools. Brigidine College, a great college at Randwick, was named after the nuns. That is where my sister, Maree, finished high school and my daughter Alison is currently a year 11 student. I note that my friend the member for Macquarie Fields was also educated by the Brigidine Sisters at the Holy Family Church at Lindfield. On the day I was also pleased to see that Pam Purdon, who taught at St Aidan's for 45 years, was honoured at the mass by having the school library named after her. Pam Purdon was present at that mass. It was great to see her there and I congratulate her on behalf of the Parliament.

I was also glad to see my friend Sister Chanel, who taught my younger brother, Peter, and who is the provincial leader of the Brigidine Sisters and past principal of St Aidan's, dedicate the school house colours. The Red House, now known as the King House, will be under the care of Mother Paul King, the founding Brigidine principal of St Aidan's. The Blue House will be known as Brigid House, the name of the saint that Daniel Delaney chose to be the guiding patron to the Brigidine order. The Gold House will now be known as the Delaney House in honour of the founding father of the Brigidine Sisters. The Green House has been placed under the patronage of Sister Pat, who was also present and is the best-known former student, according to her, and the last Brigidine Sister to come out of St Aidan's. Let us hope that is not the case; there might be a few others in due course. The Green House will proudly be called the Nagle House.

I take this opportunity to say it was terrific to see in attendance Sister Frances Doyle, my old principal from St Mary's Primary School at Lurline Bay. I have not seen her for a long time and she is doing well. She has lost none of her sense of humour or zest for life. I congratulate Sister Chanel and all of the Sisters, past and present, on all the work they have done for students over the last century. I congratulate Bernard Carey on his continued wonderful work as principal at St Aidan's. He is a great educator and a great bloke. He is widely admired and supported by staff, students and parents. I am very proud to be able to say that the Brigidine Sisters have had a great presence in my electorate and I am proud as the local member to have a great school such as St Aidan's and its community of mums, dads, students and teachers residing in my local area.

Ms VIRGINIA JUDGE (Strathfield—Parliamentary Secretary) [11.31 a.m.]: I commend the hardworking member for Maroubra for bringing to the attention of the House the fantastic work of the Brigidine Sisters in schools in his area. These Sisters and other Orders of Sisters have contributed to providing education to children in this nation for many years. The member for Maroubra has a personal connection with these wonderful women, who lead such exemplary lives promoting education and the Catholic faith in the community. I notice that the member for Epping is still in the Chamber. His private member's statement was particularly significant today. The member for Epping has a lovely voice. Eric Bogle had better watch out because the member for Epping might be after his job.