On 9 June, 1886, Mother Mary Stanislaus Darcy, Mother Ignatius Barnewall, and Mother Berchmans Barnwell, accompanied by eight postulants whose ages ranged from 16 to 22, departed from Lucan, Ireland.  Sailing from Southampton, they reached Sydney on 26 July and continued their journey to Lismore on the coastal steamer ‘SS Coraki’, arriving on 6 August. An official welcome took place on 15 August and the following day they began their mission of teaching.

Very Rev Dean Jeremiah Doyle, who at the time was responsible for the area between the Richmond and Tweed (then part of the Diocese of Armidale), had invited the Sisters to educate the children in Lismore in Northern New South Wales. Bishop Torreggiani of Armidale commissioned the Sisters on their arrival.

Over the years, many Australian women joined the community along with others from Ireland. As the congregation expanded, numerous communities were established for the education of children.

On New Year’s Day in 1905, disaster struck when the pro-cathedral and the adjacent convent were destroyed by fire. Although the loss was devastating for the Catholic community, the charred ruins were swiftly replaced by St Carthage’s Cathedral and St Mary’s Convent.

The Sisters’ early history was marked by their heroic and generous establishment of foundations in small settlements and townships. The communities of Bangalow and Kempsey were short-lived, while others, such as Ballina and Murwillumbah, thrived. When other Congregations withdrew from Clovelly, Bellingen and Tweed Heads, the Lismore Sisters were invited to continue their mission of Catholic education in these parish schools.

Since 1966, Lismore Sisters have participated in the Presentation Society’s Papua New Guinea mission.

After Vatican II, their ministries diversified beyond education, engaging in parish, hospital and aged care ministry, Aboriginal ministry, adult education and chaplaincy, youth ministry and social work, retreat ministry, and pastoral supervision. They have walked alongside marginalized individuals, advocating for women, children, justice and the poor and these remain at the core of their mission today.

The Sisters now live separately according to need and circumstances. Their communal lifestyle is expressed in coming together for prayer, community discernment and discussion, celebrations, social gatherings and meals.

They support and encourage those who now continue their mission and encourage them to find inspiration in the life of Nano Nagle. Nano ministered as a laywoman for many years before taking her vows as a Religious. It is significant that the Lismore Presentation Associates share her passion and commitment for justice. 

Congregation Leader: Anne Jordan pbvm
Phone: +61 2 6624 4588
Office & Postal Address: Presentation Sisters ‘Emmaus’ 100 High St Lismore Heights NSW 2480