St Mary's School has a rich history in Rutherglen, which is a town that has its origins from the time of the Gold Rush in the 1860's. The Presentation Sisters founded St Mary's School in 1901. They provided primary, secondary and musical education as well as accommodation for resident students on the now historic Mt. Carmel site. The Sisters continued to administer and teach in the School until 1987 when the first lay Principal was appointed. In 1990 the school moved into a new school site across the road from the original Mount Carmel site where it still sits today.
St. Mary’s School - House Names
The House of Nagle -RED
Nano Nagle was the founder of the Order of the Presentation Sisters in Cork Ireland in 1775. Nano Nagle and the Sisters lived by the motto: ‘‘Spend yourself for the poor.’’
Distressed by the lack of faith and academic opportunity for poor young Irish children, Nano Nagle opened her first school in Ireland in 1754. This began her great work in education. Nano Nagle and the Sisters selflessly educated the children during the day and visited and nursed the sick by night.
We are indebted to Presentation Sisters for responding to Fr. Michael O’Connor’s request and permitting the first teaching Presentation Sisters to relocate from Melbourne to Rutherglen in 1901 and educate the children of Rutherglen Parish.
The dedicated work of the Presentation Sisters has embedded a rich tradition of Catholic faith and educational rigor in our school, which still remains today.
The House of O’Connor - GOLD
Father Michael O’Connor was the parish priest of Rutherglen from 1895-1905.
He recognised that there was a lack of teaching professionals in the community to educate the children of the parish, both academically and spiritually.
Fr. O’Connor wrote to the Presentation Sisters requesting to send some teaching nuns to Rutherglen. Subsequently in 1901 a group of Presentation sisters left the Star of the Sea, in Elsternwick Melbourne, and arrived in Rutherglen to nurture the spiritual and educational needs of the children of the parish.
It was Fr. O’Connor’s foresight that led to the embedding of the strong and rich educational tradition, led by the dedication of Presentation Sisters, which still remains with St. Mary’s School today.
The House of Donaghy -BLUE
Mother Gertrude Donaghy was the first Superior of the first teaching Presentation Sisters in Rutherglen. She was also the Mistress for Novices and a music teacher.
Mother Donaghy and the sisters lived in a small cottage opposite the church and opened the first school for primary and secondary students in March 1901.
It was announced in the local paper that the Revered Mother would be pleased to give all information to parents, either Catholic or non-Catholic, in reference to the school and its teaching staff.
As well as promoting the basic subjects of English and Mathematics cultural activities were highly valued. The sisters provided lessons in music, dancing, art, speech-craft, drama, hand-crafts, languages and physical education
We are truly indebted to Mother Gertrude Donaghy and the early teaching Presentation Sisters for establishing a school, which has stood the test of time, where children experience a strong sense of faith and a love of learning.