Mass marks Dominican Sisters’ first class contribution to Catholic education

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Home > Media > News > Mass marks Dominican Sisters’ first class contribution to Catholic education
Mass marks Dominican Sisters’ first class contribution to Catholic education

The arrival of the Dominican Sisters in Hobart 60 years ago played a vital role in bringing Catholic education to the northern suburbs.

The Sisters founded St John’s Primary and Holy Name schools at Glenorchy, and Holy Rosary School at Claremont. Later they co-founded Dominic College at Glenorchy and Guilford Young College.

This important contribution was marked at a special celebration at Glenorchy on Sunday, September 15.

Glenorchy Parish Priest Fr Guy Riolo concelebrated Mass at St John’s Church, giving thanks for the sisters’ faithful service. Parishioners, friends and associates joined the two remaining Tasmanian-based Dominican sisters, Sr Pamela Davis and Sr Mary Rickards.

Among those in attendance was the Prioress of the Dominican Sisters of Eastern Australia and the Solomon Islands, Sr Mary-Clare Holland, of Sydney.  Sr Mary-Clare grew up in Tilyard St, Montrose, and attended the Holy Name School. Other sisters present were: Sr Julianna Drobik (the Dominican Councillor for Tasmania and Victoria), Sr Margaret Mary Brown, Sr Pauline Riley and Sr June Peck.

Sr Pamela and Sr Mary are both retired teachers who continue to carry out vital pastoral work in the community.

Sr Pamela explained that the Dominican Sisters came to Tasmania in 1959 at the invitation of then Archbishop Guilford Young, and at the urging of then Glenorchy parish priest Fr John Wallis.

The sisters’ arrival had a big impact on Catholic education in the area, and on the education of people with hearing impairments.

“We had a couple of sisters who were very experienced in deaf education,” Sr Pamela said. “They went to the Catholic schools and also looked after adult deaf people. One of those sisters, Sr Philomena Thomas, comes back every year to visit deaf adults.”

The Dominican Order was founded in 1206 to study the scriptures, pray, and preach the Word of God, Sr Pamela added.

“We hand on the truth of the faith, and we do this in Glenorchy with children and adults. We preach the gospel to all people."

Sr Pamela was the first principal of Guilford Young College, a post she held from 1994 to 2003. In recent years, the sisters have worked in the Glenorchy Parish, linked to St John’s; at Chigwell, part of the Glenorchy Parish; and at Claremont. Sr Pamela was also the pastoral associate of the Cathedral Parish for ten years. Sr Mary Rickards does pastoral home visits and works one day a week in each of the school libraries of Corpus Christi Catholic School, Bellerive, and St Therese's Catholic School, Moonah.

The chair of St John's Parish pastoral council, Elaine Askey-Doran, said the anniversary celebration was an important acknowledgement of the Dominicans’ significant contribution to the schools and to the parish. The 60th anniversary Mass was a ‘wonderful experience’, she added.

Sr Pamela welcomed the Sisters and the congregation to the Thanksgiving Mass. Sr Mary-Clare spoke of the Sisters’ arrival in Tasmania in 1959, their commitment to Glenorchy, and their work in establishing schools in the area. Mrs Bobby Court, a former student of Holy Name Convent and a former principal of Guilford Young College, spoke on behalf of parishioners and former students of the Sisters. Sr Mary-Clare and Sr Pamela cut the anniversary cake, made by parishioner Kay Grainger, at the morning tea.