Religious Communities

Parish’s Name 

  • St Thomas More, Werris Creek.

Religious Communities throughout the Parish’s history

  • Sisters of St Joseph. Built convent (now presbytery) – 1915

History of the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart

The following excerpts taken from “Celebrations – Werris Creek” Parish-School Anniversary Magazine – 1996

Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart who taught at St Joseph’s Werris Creek 1915-1985

1915~ 1924

Sisters Eulalle, Rita, Teresa, Clarus, Gwendoline, Nestor, Camillus


Sisters Aiden, Teresa Aloyslus, Teresa Martin, Francis, Camillus, Lalachi, Mida, Christina,

Elfrida, Macarten, Mechtilda, Marietta


Sisters Marietta, Francis, Mechtilde, Teresa Aloysius, lsobel, Ambrose, Helen, Macarten,

Megdala, Una, Emmanuel Forrest


Sisters Emmanuel Forrest, Benita, Macarten, Una, Maurice, lsobel, Oliveria, Ignatius, Mella,

Paula, Hilarinus, Sebastian, Eustace, Valerian, Anthony, Agneta, Raymund, Majella, Fiacre,

Roch, Jean, Irene, Gabriel


Sisters Francis Paul, Irene, Roch, Gabriel, Celine (Postulant)


Sisters Francis Paul, Roch, Gabriel, Jan Francis (Postulant)


Sisters Francis Paul, Roch, Gabriel, Antoinette, Bernard (Postulant)


Sisters Francis Paul, Antionette, Gabriel, Roch, William, Gertrude (Postulant)


Sisters Francis Paul, Leo, Antoinette, William, Roberta (Postulant)


Sisters Francis Paul, Leo, William, Ann, Linus (Postulant)


Sisters Gerard, Eustace, Fiacre, Leo


Sisters Gerard, Eustace, Agnes, Leo


Sisters Gerard, Eustace, Agnes, Leo


Sisters Gerard, Martin, Leo, John


Sisters Gerard, Martin, Timothy, Gabriel


Sisters Gerard, Martin, Timothy, Gabriel


Sisters Gregory, Timothy, Francesca, Sylvia, (2nd Term Sr Elise replaced Sr Sylvia)


Sisters Gregory, Anne Gabriel, Maris Stella, Francesca


Sisters Gregory McCann, Ann Gabriel Love, Nicole Sullivan, Catherine Duggan


Sisters Catherine Duggan, Francis Paul McLaughlin


Sisters Francis Paul McLaughlin, Constance Beckhaus, Margaret Dunkin, Colleen Malone


Sisters Margaret Keane, Carthage Kelly, Margaret Dunkin, Judith Brassil


Sisters Aloysius Smyth, Carthage Kelly, Margaret Dunkin, Louise Attard


Sisters Aloysius, Carthage Kelly, Margaret Dunkin, (3rd Term) Joan Humphries


Sisters Aloysius Smyth (Principal), Carthage Kelly, Jan Baker


Sisters Aloysius Smyth (Principal), Carthage Kelly, Jan Baker


Sisters Carmel Maher (Principal), Carthage Kelly, jan Baker


Sisters Carmel Maher (Principal), Carthage Kelly, jan Baker


Sisters Marcia Therese Cox (Principal), Carthage Kelly, Anita Vagg


Sisters Marcia Therese Cox (Principal). Carthage Kelly, Anita Vagg


Sisters Julie Simpson (Principal), Anita Vagg


Sisters Julie Simpson (Principal), Ann Brennan


The Sisters Of St Joseph Of The Sacred Head left St Joseph’s School Werris Creek in 1985. Mrs Margaret Parkinson was acting principal until the appointment of Mr Ian McMahon the first Lay Principal at St Joseph’s.



The Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart arrived in Werris Creek in 1915. They came from Mount Street North Sydney. Sister M. Eulalie was the first Superior, while Sister M. Rita and Sister M. Aloysius began their religious life as junior professed members of the first Werris Creek community. Classes commenced in the newly completed St Thomas Church In Dewhurst Street, Werris Creek. To provide accommodation for the nuns a convent was built in the north-western corner of the church grounds. For the next forty years the church served the dual role of church and school, and the Sisters taught succeeding generations of Werris Creek children through to primary school standard and on most occasions, were able to provide extra curricula studies in music. On 29 January, 1954, the Sisters occupied the former Presbytery building as their convent, and the building erected for them in 1915 was converted to a Presbytery. During Father Tuttle’s period as Parish Priest, extensive additions were made at the northern end of the Church to provide ample classrooms for the school Incorporating the latest teaching aids and modern amenities. These came into use in February, 1956.


1996 Centenary…

1966 was the CENTENARY year of the founding of the Sisters of St Joseph. The Werris Creek Community celebrated by joining with their Sisters from the convents scattered round the southern region of the Armidale Diocese. A Solemn High Mass was celebrated by the Bishop of Armidale, his Lordship Bishop Doody, at Tamworth. Prior to the Mass Tamworth witnessed an impressive march of 600 school children, representatives of the schools which had children taught by the Sisters of St Joseph.


1977 Railway Centenary…

1977 the year the Railway at Werris Creek celebrated its Centenary. Being the main junction for the north and north-west, Werris Creek owes (owed) its existence to the railway line. It was fitting then that all sections of the community enter into the spirit of the Railway Centenary Celebrations. One of the highlights of the week of celebrations was a procession of floats. The Catholic community entered a float depicting three ‘Sisters’ attired in the different habit styles of the Sisters of St Joseph during the last one hundred years. A group of children marched beside the float dressed in various uniforms, representing those worn by school children at the local convent school during the previous fifty years. The school children led the singing during the special Centenary Mass of Thanksgiving celebrated by Monsignor C.A. Fisher. During the impressive Offertory procession gifts symbolic of the railway and wheat industries, were presented by the Werris Creek Superintendent of Railways and a wheat farmer. On the final day of celebrations, the Sisters joined with the Catholic Community for a special Requiem Mass for deceased parishioners. This Mass was offered in the Catholic portion of the Werris Creek Cemetery by Monsignor Fisher and Father Castelli.


Past Pupils…

Many of the former pupils of the Sisters have had successful careers in various fields of industry, in government departments, in professions and in artistic pursuits, but more importantly the convent school has a proud record in the number of former pupils who have chosen religious careers in the service of the church. They embrace priests, nuns and brothers and include Father B. Melville presently Parish Priest of Manilla, Father Anthony Castelli, and Father Brian Cunningham. Brother Sullivan is a Christian Brother whilst Brother J. Purcell was attached to the Marist Order at Burnie, Tasmania. The latter’s sister, Sister Marie, is a member of the Brown Sisters at Coogee, and the three daughters of Mr and Mrs John Purcell, who were former pupils at St Joseph’s all joined the Ursuline Order. They were Mother Veronica, Mother Bernard and Sister Alphonsus. Father Gerard Mahony, a Passionist, and Brother L. Thomas of the De La Salle Order also received initial instruction at Werris Creek. The following is a list compiled in 1977 of daughters of Werris Creek families and former pupils of the Sisters who became nuns:

“Sister Gwendolyn (Daughter of Mr &Mrs Skiffington); Sister Patrida (Daughter of Mr & Mrs E. Bartley); Sister Judith (Daughter of Mr & Mrs Sippel); Sister Naomi (Daughter of Mr & Mrs Smith); Sister Aloysius (Daughter of Mr & Mrs F Rowan); Sisters Anselm and Nolasco, (both daughters of the late Mr & Mrs R. Cohen). Miss Cecelia Walsh of Werris Creek joined the St Joseph’s Order ” Information given in 1977.


Sisters Leave Werris Creek

In October 1985 the Sisters of St Joseph left Werris Creek. About fifty nuns travelled from all over the Armidale Diocese as well as Sydney, Gosford and Mullumbimby to attend a Mass of Thanksgiving for the seventy years of service given to St Joseph’s School, Werris Creek by the Sisters of St Joseph. The reason the sisters were withdrawn was because of a national programme, undertaken by the Order. Two former students of the school, Sisters Patricia Bartley and Sister Judy Sippel, were In attendance, as well as former principals Sister Bernadette (Gerard) and Sister Carmel. Former music teachers present were Sr Valerie (Leo), Sr Catherine, Sr Jan and Sr Anita, as well as class teachers Sr Margaret (Martin), Sr Constance, Sr Carthage, Sr Josephine (Mella). The last nun to reside in the convent was Sr Anne. She also attended the farewell. Former Parish Priest Fr Brennan also attended.

No further information has been provided at this stage. Please forward any information to the Catholic Schools Office

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