Sandhills and history
Sisters Rita, Barbara and Maureen standing outside the convent in Botany
When the Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart move from their convent at Botany at the end of the year they will be ending 148 years of the congregation’s presence in the area.
When the sisters first moved to Botany in 1855 to teach the local children their neighbours were mostly tanneries.
Those sisters were the first Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart to settle in Australia from France, where the congregation was founded.
Each morning they would walk over the sandhills to St Bernard’s School, returning to the convent at the end of the teaching day.
As the area became more developed, the sisters moved to their current residence in Edwards St in 1954.
The primary school and church were relocated to Ramsgate St because they were under the Sydney airport flight path.
The last religious principal left the school in 1993 and since that time it has been staffed entirely by lay people.
The three remaining sisters in the convent – Srs Rita, Barbara and Maureen – were guests of honour at a farewell Mass celebrated at St Bernard’s by Bishop David Cremin.
The parish priest at St Bernard’s, Fr Joseph Aikkaramattam, says: “The sisters have always been very committed to the parish all these years and they are always available for any ministry in the parish.
“It’s a great plus to have them present in the congregation during Mass.
“They are much loved here and we will miss them very much.”