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Sisters of St John of God Heritage Centre

The Sisters of St John of God were founded in Ireland in 1871 and are an apostolic religious congregation of women. In 1907 nine Sisters arrived in Beagle Bay Mission, lead by Sr Antonio O’Brien, to minister to Aboriginal women and children. They responded to whatever works needed to be done and so commenced teaching, nursing, training of the older girls and a wide range of domestic duties.

  • Museums:Aboriginal,Local History

Details

  • Museums:Aboriginal,Local History

Description

The Sisters of St John of God were founded in Ireland in 1871 and are an apostolic religious congregation of women.
 
In 1907 nine Sisters arrived in Beagle Bay Mission, lead by Sr Antonio O’Brien, to minister to Aboriginal women and children.  They responded to whatever works needed to be done and so commenced teaching, nursing, training of the older girls and a wide range of domestic duties.
 
In 1908 Sr Antonio, together with Sr Benedict Courtney, came by lugger to Broome with the intention of trying to establish a convent.  They had no money but were greatly assisted by the donation of a one room cottage near the church and some basics such as bedding provided by the Japanese and Chinese merchants.  Again they responded to needs and started St Mary’s School, took on nursing duties and taught music among other things.  They were soon accepted in Broome by all races and classes of people.
 
The story of these early years has been told in the film Sisters, Pearls & Mission Girls which has been made into a DVD.    Another form of the story was written by Pat Jacobs, historian and author, in two essays published in the book Living on the Kimberley Pearling Coast: Sisters of St John of God in the Early Twentieth Century. Both are available from the Old Convent Shop. 
 
Over the remaining years the Sisters branched out undertaking a number of ventures in Lombadina and Derby, then further afield to the desert community of Balgo Hills Mission and later to the La Grange Mission (now Bidyadanga Community) south of Broome.
 
In 2007 the Sisters celebrated one hundred years of ministry in the Kimberley. 

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