Religious Orders

  1. De la Salle Brothers
  2. Sisters of Mercy
  3. Sisters of St Joseph
  4. Christian Brothers
  5. Dominican Fathers
  6. Dominican Sisters
  7. Ursuline Sisters
  8. La Sallettes
  9. Sisters of Nazareth
  10. Franciscans
  11. Patrician Brothers

The following notes have been compiled on the occasion of the official opening of the refurbished Catholic Schools Office on the 19thOctober, 2000.

The contents are mainly extracts from the Freemans Journal and catalogue in part the story of St Patrick’s College which the Patrician Brothers administered from 1889 til 1897.

Also included are details of the Brothers who ministered at Armidale and the community lists for those years.   Laudare; To blessBenedicere; To preach Praedicare. The Motto is Truth associated with to contemplate and give to others the fruits of contemplation. building in Tamworth, where St Nicholas Church was also the school room.In response to the invitation of Bishop Torreggiani, the Ursulines established in Armidale a “High School for Young Ladies”. St Ursula’s College, a boarding and day school for girls was owned and conducted by the Ursuline nuns from 1882 to 1977. At the time of its closure it listed among its former pupils many members of the professional, cultural and educational sectors of the Australian society. There were also many less well known women living happy creative, Christian lives because of the education they had received from the a parish school which has been conducted by the Ursuline nuns since 1883. It was established by the Diocese in 1852 and was conducted by lay teachers until the Ursuline sisters took responsibility for it. For some years it included junior secondary classes.In 1974 the De la Salle Brothers, who since 1906 had conducted a day and boarding school for boys in Armidale indicated that they would have to close the school as fewer brothers were available and the financial burden of conducting the school was becoming too great. As this meant that there would be no Catholic secondary schooling available to boys in Armidale, it was decided to establish a co-educational Catholic High School by merging the De La Salle College and St Ursula’s College. The staff from each of the former colleges combined to staff the newly formed high school and the administration was shared by Ursulines and De la Salle Brothers until 1994. Ursulines continued to teach in the school until 1998, thus making a continuous contribution to Catholic secondary schooling in Armidale for 116 years.

In 1935, Bishop Coleman blessed a new project: RELIGION BY LETTER. This was a program which enrolled children of the outlying districts, especially those who would be unable to attend a Catholic School, and prepared them for the sacraments. The program was based on Archbishop Sheehan’s Primer of Religion, “Religion by Letter” and “A Child’s Book of Religion”.

The work of organising, distributing and correcting the lessons was entrusted to the Ursulines. By 1953 the total number of students who had been enrolled was 4227. The number of children who received this instruction by post in 1953 alone was 465. The program provided instruction not only for children, but incidentally, for their parents as well. This program continued until the 1960s when road transport became more accessible and schools were more available to students.

Catholic Schools Office

Since 1989 an Ursuline sister has contributed assistance to the Catholic Schools Office in the administration of its schools.

From the Brothers’ Archives

The records indicate that the following Brothers’ ministered at Armidale in the years 1889 till the end of 1896.

Brother Louis Carroll    1889
 Brother Andrew Dwyer 1892 (from July)
 Brother Xavier Dwyer                1893/4
 Brother Ligouri Higgins      1889 (to September)
 Brother Thomas Hunt  1893/5
 Brother Louis Hynes 1890
 Brother John Lee 1893
 Brother James Long 1891/2
 Brother Joseph McDonnell 1895
 Brother Austin McGrath 1894/5
 Brother Xavier O’Gorman 1890
 Brother Ignatius Price 1895/6
 Brother Ambrose Ryan 1889 (died 19 February, 1889)
 Brother Andrew Ryan 1891
 Brother Eugene Ryan 1889/93
 Brother Laurence Ryan 1890/92/94

1889   Eugene Ryan, Louis Carroll, Ligouri Higgins, Ambrose Ryan
1890    Eugene Ryan, Louis Hynes, Xavier O’Gorman, Laurence Ryan
1891    Eugene Ryan, James Long, Andrew Ryan
1892    Eugene Ryan, Andrew Dwyer, James Long, Laurence Ryan
1893    Eugene Ryan, Xavier Dwyer, Thomas Hunt, John Lee
1894    Xavier Dwyer, Thomas Hunt, Austin McGrath, Laurence Ryan
1895    Ignatius Price, Thomas Hunt, James McDonnell, Austin McGrath
1896    Ignatius Price

Freemans Journal, January 12, 1889, p 18


We stated some little time back (says the Armidale CHRONICLE) that it was proposed to establish in Armidale a college for the education of youths, under the care of the Brothers of St Patrick. All arrangements are now complete; the Brothers have arrived, and the college will be opened on 21st instant. St Patrick’s College has been founded for the purpose of placing within reach of the Catholic youth throughout the Diocese of Armidale a first-class English and classical education based on a sound religious training. While no pains will be spared in imparting a thoroughly sound English, classical, and religious education, particular attention will be devoted to training the pupils in those branches (including the most improved system of book-keeping) which have been found most useful in commercial pursuits. One of the chief aims of the course of instruction will be to give a good knowledge of the English language. The college is situated about half a mile from Armidale, on the crest of hill overlooking town – one of the prettiest and healthiest sites that could be desired; the dormitories are roomy and well-ventilated; the recreation grounds are extensive, comprising about fifteen acres.

Freemans Journal, April 27, 1889, p 18


Armidale has been very appropriately designated the Cathedral City if the North; for a visitor is at once struck by the splendid buildings of the different denominations devoted to divine worship. The two cathedrals (Catholic and Protestant) and the Presbyterian Church are the most noticeable. The Catholic Church property in this northern city is one of which the Bishop (Dr Torreggiani) and his devoted people may justly feel proud, and which is a proof of the labours of the holy pastor and of his flock. The property consists of almost a whole block of land in the very centre of the town, on which are erected the Cathedral, Bishop’s house, convent, and parochial schools; while on the outskirts of the town on a large area of ground (about 2 acres) is built St Patrick’s College. The Cathedral is of red brick and built on an eminence in the centre of a neat garden, which under the care of Brother Francis is ever blooming. The Bishop’s house in the rear of the Cathedral is a spacious building of two stories. The Ursuline Convent is a building of two stories also, surrounded with large recreation grounds. At the end of the convent is a nice little oratory beautifully finished off in the interior with paintings, the work of the Sisters. A large three-storied building is in course of erection, costing about 4000 pounds, containing refectory, dormitories, music-ball, and numerous other compartments. The present building occupied as a school is a wooden structure, in which there are about sixty pupils reaping the advantages of a first-class convent education from the labours of the pious Sisters. The parochial school is divided into the boys’ department, which is under the control of the Patrician Brothers, and the girls’ department, which is conducted by the Nuns. In these schools some hundred children are receiving a good Catholic education, and the seed of the faith is being imparted to them whereby their parents have been able to do so much for the furtherance of religion and by which they themselves maybe come their worthy successors. St Patrick’s College, under the conductorship of the Patrician Brothers, is situated on the edge of the township. The old presbytery has been converted into a residence for the Brothers, and a wing of the future college has been erected. The very satisfactory number of 26 boys is under the care of the Brothers. The number of boarders so far, however, are few, owing perhaps to the college not being very well known. Still as time moves on the college will assuredly assume great proportions. The grounds attached to the college are very large and afford plenty of room for out-door amusements, so in the future we may expect to hear of St Patrick’s College footballers and cricketers. Thus the inhabitants of the Armidale diocese are extremely fortunate in having such a magnificent edifice as the Cathedral and in being in a position to give their children a sound Catholic education, fitting them for the burden of life as good citizens and good Catholics, and very justly may they esteem and honour the revered head of their diocese, who has laboured so long and is still labouring in their behalf.

The convent new school is going up rapidly. It now presents a very imposing appearance, consisting of three stories. The Roman Catholic block of buildings is considered equal to any in the colony.

Steps are being taken to welcome the Very Rev Dean O’Connor, who is expected to arrive here during the latter end of May, after his twelve months’ tour abroad.

Freemans Journal, October 13, 1889, p 15


Blessing the Building.

The ceremonies in connection with the blessing of St Patrick’s College, Armidale by his Lordship the Right Rev Dr Torreggiani, Bishop of the Diocese, on Sunday last, were of an imposing character. The blessing was preceded by High Mass in the Cathedral, of which Dean O’Connor was the celebrant, the choir being under the direction of Mdlle Percevale. There was a very large congregation, and a most eloquent sermon was preached by the Very Rev Alphonsus O’Neill, Superior of the Passionists, showing the necessity for religious training in connection with education, and appealing to those present to be generous in their contributions towards the fund for the completion of St Patrick’s college. The result exceeded the most sanguine expectations, the very handsome sum of 500 pounds being collected. Out of this sum, Measrs W and J Miller generously gave 100 pounds each, Bishop Torreggiani, 100 pounds, Dean O’Connor 25 pounds. In the afternoon a procession was formed, consisting of a large number of pupils from the College and Parochial schools, members of the Guild, and the Cathedral congregation. Large numbers of people accompanied or preceded the procession. The College was festively and elaborately decorated with banners, wreaths, and appropriate mottoes adorned the various walls.

The Bishop, Dr Torreggiani, assisted by Father O’Neill, Dean O’Connor and Brother Eugene, then blessed the building. After the blessing his Lordship, in a lengthy discourse, sketched the Catholic history of the Armidale diocese until its subdivision into that of Armidale and Grafton, paying a well-merited tribute to the first Bishop of the new Seat of Grafton, Dr Doyle. His Lordship also enumerated the many Catholic schools throughout his vast diocese, which extended over 5400 miles, where, on his taking possession, were to be found only two, one in Armidale and the other if Grafton. He appealed to all to show by their generosity, as some had already done that morning, that their hearty co-operation was with him in the establishment of this College.

Mr Donnelly and Mr Kearney then spoke in support of the claims of the College, the former exhorting all to make a sacrifice towards the liquidation of the debt on this College, which promised to become one of the finest in the colony, being, as it is, situated in the centre of a rich mining district, and also midway between the two capitals of New South Wales and Queensland.

Some supplementary subscriptions were announced by Dean O’Connor.

Brother Eugene, on behalf of the Brothers of St Patrick, thanked the Bishop, priests and people of the diocese for their generosity. His Lordship Dr Torreggiani also addressed the assemblage and expressed his gratification at the generous sprit shown that day.

The blessing and speech-making being over, a splendid repeat awaited the visitors in the large refectory attached to the college, prepared under the direction of the good wife of the Mayor of Armidale. In the evening Father O’Neill again preached in the cathedral to a crowded congregation.

Freemans Journal, November 23, 1889, p 18


(from a Corespondent)

Last week, His Lordship Dr Torreggiani left Armidale for the purpose of installing the Very Rev Dean Mitchell as parish priest of Inverell. He was accompanied by the Very Rev Dean O’Connor, and was met at Inverell by the Very Rev Dean Flanagan, the pastor of Emmaville. Things passed off very satisfactorily and his Lordship returned by the end of the week.

Preparations are being made at Uralla for another bazaar to liquidate the debt of the church buildings. I believe it comes off by next March. The new church, the new convent, and the school of Uralla are indeed a credit to the zeal and faith of these good people. You may be able to conceive some idea of them when you understand that already between three and four thousand pounds have been extended upon them. Though this town is but twenty three miles form Armidale it has to the number of one hundred children attending the convent schools.

Our senior member has obtained permission from the Government for the establishment of a cadet corps of St Patrick’s College boys. This indeed, will be a great advantage to the young men attending this institution, and a most desirable element in their training.

The usual fortnightly meeting of the Temperance Association was held on last Friday evening at St Mary’s Schoolroom. In the absence of the president. The Very Rev Dean O’Connor, the chair was taken by the worthy vice-president, Mr Donnelly. The principal announcement of the meeting was that on next night of meeting an entertainment would be given. Though the association has now been started  only something over a month, its members number over one hundred. It seems to be making great headway, and already has done much good.

Freemans Journal, November 30, 1889, p 15


To consider the plans for the proposed extension of St Patrick’s College, Armidale, an influential meeting was held in the schoolroom last Sunday. The Very Rev Dean O’Connor, in the Bishop’s absence, occupied the chair, and on his submitting the plans, said that owing to the success which had attended the college under the able guidance of Brother Eugene the accommodation for the coming year was not sufficient. He had mingled feelings of joy and sorrow in bringing them together for this object-of-joy on account of the success of the college, and of sorrow that the time was so short since the grand and generous response of the people on the occasion of the opening of the college. Mr Donnelly proposed that tenders be called immediately to erect the proposed building, and in doing so he wished to draw attention to the fact that the outlying districts of the Diocese mostly likely benefit by the boarding accommodation in the College were not yet canvassed. The Dean said, in answer to Mr Donnelly, that it was Lordship’s intention to do so, when he could procure a priest or a brother for the work. Mr P Mckinlay, JP, said, he had great pleasure in seconding the motion proposed by Mr Donnelly.  Brother Eugene explained that there was sufficient time to call for tenders, and erect the building before the re-opening of the school on 21st of January. He said there were seven clear weeks for the construction of the building, and it took only eight for the present wing.  The show of hands was taken, when there was a majority for calling for tenders. Mr J Sheahan CPS said that the very fact of having to enlarge the building spike volumes for its success. He could speak for the whole community when he said there was not a dissentient voice to the carrying out of the enlargement.  Mr Trim, the mayor, said he always advocated the calling of tenders, because then everyone was satisfied, seeing there was no favour shown to one builder more than another.

Freemans Journal, February 8, 1890


The SS Parramatta brought out several Patrician Brothers, viz – Brothers Stanislaus Maher and Andrew Ryan for the College in Armidale and John Lee, Regis Dwyer, Dominick Rigerby, James Ryan, and Matthew McGrath for the Diocese of Bathurst. The new Brothers are to open the school at Orange, in the Bathurst Diocese, next Easter.

In connection with the Patrician Brothers’ School at St Vincent’s, Redfern, in the Diocese of Sydney, we note with pleasure that one of their pupils, Master E Kelly has won one of the Arch Bishop Vaughan Memorial Scholarships, which entitles him to three years education at Riverview College. The bright young lad is a son of Mr H E Kelly, the respected secretary of the Hibernian Society. Last year a similar scholarship was carried off by another pupil of the same school, Master J Ryan.

Freemans Journal, December 20, 1890, p.18


The breaking-up of St. Patrick’s College, Armidale, was distinguished by a long list of celebrations, commencing in the forenoon with sports, which were held on the show ground, and attracted a good attendance.  The day was fine and, we are told, everything went of swimmingly.  The distribution of prizes took place in the old Town Hall in the evening.  The hall was packed with a large and enthusiastic audience.  The proceedings opened with a concert, which consisted of music, vocal and instrumental, and recitations.  Mr C B Foster conducted the affair.  A considerable amount of skill and ability was manifested in the pianoforte and violin performances, and the remainder of the programme was filled in with songs and choruses by the different scholars.  The different numbers were well received and heartily applauded by the audience, and in many cases encores were demanded.

At the conclusion of the concert, Brother Eugene, President of the College, read his annual report.  In the report it was claimed that though established only two years, the college was successfully competing with institutions whose existence could be reckoned by decades.  It rivalled those institutions not only in numbers but also in efficiency, and with the continued co-operation of its many and generous friends, it seemed destined in the near future to hold a prominent place among the educational establishments of the colony.  At the close of the last year, increased demand on the space made it necessary for the Brothers of St. Patrick to put an addition to wing in which the College was started, and through the energy of the contractor, Mr Elliot, the new portion, at a cost of 600 pounds, was put up in time to meet the increase in numbers.  The Brothers procured, at their own expense, furniture for the College.  During the year eighty boys passed through the college – thirty-one of whom were boarders and forty nine day-pupils.  The average number attending each quarter was 25 boarders and 40 day boys.  The moral tone of the College was very satisfactory indeed, while their spiritual wants had been attended to with scrupulous exactness – thanks to his Lordship and the untiring zeal of his clergy.  The application of the boys to their various studies, on the whole, was very fair.  Indeed the strict supervision of the prefects of study left them little room to err on that point.  As was natural in a new institution, the majority of the boys were confined to elementary subjects, the number engaged at classics and the higher branches of education being comparatively few.  However, for the past half-year 24 boys had been studying classics, and 35 modern languages, which shows a decided improvement on the first half of the present year, and holds out a good prospect for the coming one.  Five boys passed at the Junior Examination at the University, one of whom Master F. Cox, passed creditably, bringing a first-class in arithmetic, geography, geology, English, French and Greek, and by some mishap a second-class in Latin, though his best subject.  The permanent staff of the College, it was pointed out, consisted of three teachers, besides whom Professor Foster and Mr H. Donnelly attended to the music and singing.

In conclusion the Brothers heartily thanked their many and generous supporters.  In the first place, his Lordship, the Bishop, for his kind patronage and the deep interest which he takes in St. Patrick’s; and in the second place, his zealous clergy, who had spared no pains in procuring boarders for the college, and who are untiring in their efforts to make it a success; and finally, the good people of Armidale for the more than generous support which they had given.

Before his Lordship, Dr. Torreggiani proceeded with the distribution of the prizes, the following acknowledgement was made – Very Rev. Dean O’Connor, prizes in books; Very Rev. Father McGuinness, two medals (gold and silver); Very Rev. Father O’Sullivan, prizes in books; Mr J M Sheahan, prizes in books; Mr M Ryan, prizes in books.

His Lordship the Bishop, in course of a congratulatory address, recalled his first arrival in Armidale eleven years ago, when the Reception Committee lamented the want of educational establishments in the diocese.  At that time there were but two Catholic Schools throughout the whole district – one at Armidale and one at Grafton.  The Convent High School was beginning just then, thanks to the community of Ursulines who came out from Germany to establish it, and when it was set fairly on the way the question came up how to supply the school for boys?  This difficulty was solved by the Patrician Brothers, who generously came to Armidale and opened the establishment of St Patrick’s College.  Since his arrival a great increase had taken place in the number of schools.  Armidale had now a College and a Convent High School, while there were schools in every town of any importance throughout the whole diocese.  Thanks to the generous support which he had received from the people, not only of his own denomination, the work had been carried steadily on.

Mr T J Kearney briefly referred to the increase in educational establishments, and concluded by moving a hearty vote of thanks to Bishop Torreggiani, which was carried by acclamation.

Cheers were then given for his Lordship, Bro. Eugene, Mr Boyne, and the College.

Freemans Journal, 24 November, 1891, p.10


(From a Correspondent)

SCHOOLS – I have seen a copy of the Very. Rev. M. O’Sullivan’s annual report of the Primary schools of the diocese, and judging from the very high percentage obtained in each case, and particularly in the essential subjects, the work done in the schools for the past year cannot be surpassed in excellence in any part of the colony.  All the Primary schools are taught by religious teachers.  The Armidale girls’ school, conducted by the Ursuline Nuns, and the boys’ school, by the Brothers of St. Patrick, hold prominent place on the list.

St Patrick’s re-opens on Tuesday, 27th inst., when Brother Eugene, the President of the College, is certain to have a splendid “muster”.  St Patrick’s, now only commencing the third year of its existence, has already earned for itself, as an educational establishment, a reputation that attracts to its halls, students not only from the Diocese of Armidale, but also from other Dioceses and other colonies.  The liberal course of studies, the quality of the education imparted, and the almost marvellous success of the college during the two years of its existence have brought home to the minds of parents that it is no longer necessary for them to send their children away to the establishments of the metropolis to enjoy the advantages of higher education.

Freemans Journal, 14 November, 1891, p.18


……….. The college itself is well situated.  Built upon rising ground and surrounded by open country, it is sufficiently close to the town for all practical purposes, while its secluded position is naturally conducive to a scholastic life.  Through want of funds, the building could not be completed according to the original design; but when the present debt is paid off and the left wing added it will be a beautiful, commodious, substantial structure.

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