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St Stephen's School Pittsworth : 100 years

By Simon Miller, Library Technician, State Library of Queensland | 5 August 2016

On the 6th of August 1916 a new convent and school was dedicated at Pittsworth on the Darling Downs. The occasion was reported in the Brisbane Courier.

The advent of the Sisters of St Joseph to Pittsworth was made the occasion of a large gathering today, when approximately 2000 persons assisted in the dedication of the convent and school in which the Sisters commence the work of education tomorrow. At the 10 o'clock mass, which was celebrated by Rev M Ryan, of Stanthorpe, chancellor of the arch-diocese, there was not standing room in the parish church. Immediately after mass his Grace Archbishop Duhig administered confirmation to 72 candidates. Following the ceremony of dedication his Grace called upon the parish priest (Rev. John Ryan) to read a financial statement, which showed that expenditure amounting to £2200 had been incurred. Of that sum a good part was already in hand, and it was hoped that the day's collection would go far towards clearing the debt. The Archbishop, in his address, said that this ceremony put the crown on the work of Father Ryan, whose first great effort on coming to Pittsworth nine years ago had been the erection of the beautiful parish church The Sisters of St Joseph came to them with a high reputation. The order had just celebrated its golden jubilee. Fifty years ago it was founded by the late Mother Mary McKillop, who was born in Melbourne in 1842, and she established her first school in a disused stable in Penola, South Australia. Today the order was to be found throughout Australasia. These sisters now had 150 convents, 170 schools, in which 17,000 pupils were being taught. The sisters numbered 1200. They had 11 institutes of charity, with 800 inmates. His Grace remarked that the qualifications of the teachers were of the highest, and added that there were three factors in the life of a child - the home, the school and the church. In order that justice should be done to the children this trinity should be complete. Mr L E Groom referred to the great work of Archbishop Dunne when he was parish priest on the Darling Downs. The collection, which was then taken up, realised £600. At 3 pm a welcome was tendered the Sisters, and enjoyable musical numbers, were given. The Mother General of the Order from North Sydney and visiting sisters from Allora, as well as those forming the staff of the new school, were present, and received illuminated addresses of welcome. The Rev Father Ryan, of Stanthorpe, and Mr D Mackintosh also spoke a few words of welcome. Presentations were made to Miss Hayden, who has charge of the Sunday catechism class, and to Miss Dolly Dillon who has charge of the children's singing.

The parish church mentioned was St Stephens Church and was opened in 1909.

Side elevation plan of the proposed St. Stephens Church, Pittsworth, ca. 1908

Side elevation plan of the proposed St. Stephens Church, Pittsworth, ca. 1908

Large crowd assembled outside St. Stephens Church, Pittsworth, 1909

Large crowd assembled outside St. Stephens Church, Pittsworth, 1909

The school will be celebrating this weekend with an Art Show, old time dancing, school tours and Centenary Mass among the events planned. Details can be found on the school's website.

Simon Miller - Library Technician, State Library of Queensland


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