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Our Lady of the Southern Cross College

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Catherine McAuley

Catherine McAuley, born in 1778, was an Irish woman who lived a difficult life having to care for her siblings and her siblings’ children in the late 1700s and early 1800s. In 1803 she became the manager and carer for William and Catherine Callaghan at Coolock House and when they passed away in 1822, she became the beneficiary of the Callaghan Estate. This led her to build a house in Dublin which served the poor women and children in her community. In 1830 she entered the Presentation Sisters’ Novitiate in preparation for founding the Sisters of Mercy whose convents spread rapidly throughout Ireland and England.

On 19 August 1841, Sister Mary Vincent Whitty, future founder of the Sisters of Mercy in Brisbane professed her vows and later in that year, on 11 November 1841, Catherine McAuley passed into eternal life.

In 1860, Mother Mary Vincent Whitty and a group of Sisters of Mercy accompanied Bishop James Quinn to the newly created Diocese of Brisbane and so began Mother Whitty’s active involvement in establishing schools throughout the Colony of Queensland.

In 1846, a slab dwelling was erected by Mr Henry Russell of Cecil Plains Station at the junction of the Greenbank, St Ruth and Jimbour runs and stood on what would become the west corner of Myall and Bunya Streets in Dalby. The slab hut operated as Stewart’s Public House and later a further structure was built and became the Plough Inn. This building later became Saint Columba’s, the first catholic school and residence for the Sisters of Mercy when they came to Dalby in 1877 under Mother Mary Rose.

Catherine McAuley, as the founder of the Sisters of Mercy in Ireland, is important as a College icon due to the fact that it was her order who first brought Catholic schooling to Dalby. Next Wednesday, we acknowledge and recognise the significant role she played in how our College has come to be what it is today.  

Saint Mary MacKillop

Mary MacKillop was born on 15 January 1842 in Melbourne, Victoria. Her parents were born in Scotland and came to live in Australia. She had three sisters and four brothers.

Mary cared about the people who had no one to look after them such as boys and girls who just roamed the streets, children in the country who had no school to go to, people who were old and sick and people who had nowhere to live. Mary wanted more than anything to help these people.

Mary went to work as a teacher in a little country town in South Australia called Penola. There she met Father Julian Tenison Woods who also wanted to do something for the poor children who could not afford to pay the money needed to go to school. Together, in 1866, they began the first St Joseph’s School in an old stable. Two of Mary’s younger sisters also taught in the school and other young women came to help them.

On 19 March 1866 (St Joseph’s Day) Mary started to wear a simple black dress and began the Congregation of the Sisters of St Joseph. Now as a Sister, she dedicated her life to doing God’s work. As more and more young women joined Mary as Sisters, they were able to start more schools. All children were welcome at the Josephite schools, which provided free Catholic education.

In Adelaide they opened a place for women who had nowhere to live, an orphanage for children who had no parents to look after them and a house where poor people could come and stay. The Sisters visited people who were in gaol and those who were poor and sick.

Mary MacKillop was kind to all people, even if they did not agree with her. She died on 8 August 1909 in Alma Cottage, North Sydney. Mary helped many people during her lifetime and after she died, the Sisters of St Joseph kept on doing the good work she had started.

Mary MacKillop kept her faith in God and bravely challenged those who did not support her vision for a more caring world. Mary is an important Australian who spent her life helping people, especially children. She is Australia’s first Saint. © Trustees of the Sisters of St Joseph 2005 www.sosj.org.au Mary MacKillop’s Story (Junior Primary) 2

Blessed Edmund Rice

Edmund Rice was born in 1762 in County Kilkenny, Ireland and was the fourth of seven sons for parents Robert and Margaret Rice. Edmund was born during a time when penal laws greatly inhibited the education of many Catholics and because of this, the Rice boys were educated at home. Edward became an apprentice to his Uncle Michael who owned a merchant business and when his Uncle died, Edmund took over the ownership of the business.

Edmund married Mary Elliot who very sadly passed away two years later heavily pregnant. Her child Mary survived but was born handicapped and with the help of his family, Edmund raised and cared for Mary and provided for her financially for the rest of her life. When his wife Mary died, Edmund believed it to be a call for him to deepen his prayer life and he attended Mass every day.

Soon Edmund's business prospered and he decided that his good fortune could allow him to help educate poor boys. He soon discovered that the poor boys could also be difficult to manage and many of his teachers resigned so he then decided to sell his business and devote himself to training teachers who would dedicate themselves to their prayers and the teaching of the children. The school prospered, more teachers arrived and soon a permanent school building, 'Mount Sion' was erected. A proper school licence was then issued by the Church of Ireland thanks to the appeals of Edmund's influential friends and despite the laws that denied him the opportunity to attend formal schooling himself.

The success of the school was followed by prosperity in business in the town of Waterford. The arrival of the presentation Sisters helped Edmund realise that total dedication to what he believed God was calling him for was going to help ensure that his society would be bound by their religious vows. The Presentation Brothers formed with Edmund and moved into other communities to help poor children throughout Ireland by order of other bishops.

However, each community was under the control of the bishop in each diocese and this created problems, so Edmund sought approval from Pope Pius VII to make the communities into a pontifical with a Superior general. This allowed Edmund to send out brothers across diocesan boundaries to help where they were most needed.

The Christian Brothers came out to Australia from Ireland in 1868 at the request of Bishop James Goold and within 35 years, many schools were established all across the country. It was Edmund Rice's early work in identifying the need for education that allowed brothers to move throughout Ireland and later Australia providing young boys with a chance to learn and prosper despite being denied this opportunity himself as a young boy. Edmund's drive to set up schools and educate young boys was a vision that, many years later, saw St Mary's open up in Dalby under the guidance of the Christian Brothers.

Monsignor Thomas Nolan

homas Nolan after whom one of our houses is named was born in Toowoomba on 14 June 1876. He was one of seven children born to Charles Nolan and Margaret Kelly, both of whom came from County Clare, one brother and five sisters and Thomas. He commenced school at St Saviour's Primary School and moved on to the "Catholic Boys' School".

The family moved to Ipswich and Thomas travelled daily to school at Gregory Terrace, a Christian Brothers' College but when Nudgee College opened, Thomas went there as a boarder.

Through these school days Thomas was a dedicated student, a top athlete and Captain of Nudgee's first football team playing Rugby League.

Thomas completed his schooling and went from Nudgee to Manly Seminary, at that time the only Seminary in Australia for the preparation of Diocesan Priests. He was ordained by Cardinal Moran the Archbishop of Sydney in St Mary's Cathedral on 30 November, 1900, the first old boy Priest from Nudgee.

Thomas was appointed to Kangaroo Point parish in Brisbane for a brief period and then to Toowoomba.  He spent eighteen months as an assistant Priest to Monsignor Denis Fouhy in the St Patrick's Parish, James Street, Toowoomba. Then in 1902 he was appointed as assistant Priest ("Curate") to Father Denis Byrne the then Parish Priest of Dalby.

Father Nolan spent the rest of his life in the Dalby Parish appointed as Parish Priest in November 1907 when Denis Byrne died. Thomas himself died in the Dalby Hospital on 16 May 1950.

The Dalby Parish in the first half of the 20th Century covered 17,500 square miles from Jondaryan to Miles, from Meandarra to Taroom. There were no cars here in the early years of Father Thomas' time. Travel was by horse drawn coach buggy and it usually took 12 hours to go from Miles to Taroom!

Father Nolan was a great builder. The present St Joseph's Church was officially opened on 4 December 1921 and many country Churches were built during his time including Irvingdale, Jandowae, Warra, Bell, Cecil Plains. He built the Convent building in Cunningham Street and most of the 'old' school buildings, some of which burnt down in our 'famous fire'.

He was totally committed to Dalby. He loved the people and the place, involving himself, passionately, not only in the life of the parish and parishioners but also quite prominently in the community. Thomas was involved in the establishment and ongoing support of the Hibernian and Dalby City Bands; in the development of Rugby League in Dalby; and his was a long commitment to the Dalby Hospital Board. He also loved a good horse, and for many years he exhibited buggy horses in the Dalby Show.


Read more about Mary MacKillop

Mary's beginnings

Read more about Catherine McAuley

Catherine's story

Read more about Blessed Edmund Rice

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