The Presentation Sisters made their way to Tasmania from Fermoy, Ireland, with the founding Sisters being Mother Xavier Murphy, Sr Stanislaus O’Brien, Sr Regis Murphy, and Sr Ignatius Murphy, along with five postulants Ellen Beechinor, Kate Russell, Eliza Cronin, Ellen Keller and Martha Foley. Their journey was prompted by an invitation from Mother Xavier’s brother, Daniel Murphy, who had recently been appointed as the second Bishop (and later first Archbishop) of Hobart.

Upon their arrival in 1866, the convent in Hobart was still under construction, so they found accommodation in Richmond. There, they opened a school and travelled by jig to Jerusalem (now called Colebrook) to provide religious instruction. Eventually, in 1868, they moved to Hobart and established St Mary’s Convent School, now known as St Mary’s College. They further expanded their educational endeavours by opening Sacred Heart College and St Mary’s Free School in Launceston in 1873.

This was just the beginning, as the Presentation Sisters went on to establish other foundations across Tasmania in Invermay, Beaconsfield, Queenstown, Karoola, Longford (with catechetical outreach to rural areas), Bellerive (with catechetical outreach to Sorrel, Nubeena, and Port Arthur), New Norfolk, Lindisfarne, George Town, Lilydale, Riverside and Mowbray.

The ministry of the Presentation Sisters extended beyond schools. They took on roles as Pastoral Associates who conducted Liturgies of the Word with Communion in the priestless parishes of Goodwood-Lutana and Campbell Town as well as King Island and Flinders Island, where they also opened Catechetical Centres. The Sisters also worked in our Society Mission in Ningil in Papua New Guinea and with the Union of Presentation Sisters in Pakistan.

They operated a House of Prayer in Blackmans Bay and provided pastoral support to the community of the Tasman Peninsula after the Port Arthur massacre in 1996.

The Tasmanian Presentation Sisters helped establish the St Vincent de Paul Society in Launceston in 1899 and provided the first official Chaplain. They offered pastoral care in women’s shelters, mental health facilities, aged care facilities, and with the sight and hearing impaired. They worked with refugees, as Chaplains with the Inter-church Trade and Industry Ministry and the Maritime College and served as counsellors in schools and Centacare.

The Presentation Sisters today are a small group, yet they remain active. They have a hopeful trust that Associates, co-workers and others inspired by the Presentation spirit will continue to respond in love to the changing needs they encounter.

Contact Information

Email: maryknoll@bigpond.com