Sister of Mercy Story

The Sisters of Mercy made their home at the Mt Carmel Convent from 1915-2011; a building which, by its design, reflected the Sisters’ ministry in education and their communal life of prayer and devotion.


The Sisters of Mercy were principally a teaching order, founded in Ireland by Catherine McAuley in 1831. When the Convent opened in 1915, the neighbouring Guardian Angels' School had grown to more than 150 students in attendance as had demand for a comprehensive education program for girls.

Students from Brisbane and country centres were quickly admitted to the Convent thanks to advertisements placed in metropolitan and regional papers. An advertisement in the Brisbane Courier noted that ‘boarders have the advantage of private sea bathing’ (Brisbane Courier, 5 Jan, 1916:1).

The Convent provided the option of both boarding and day school, and taught a range of subjects over the years including Music, Domestic Science, English, Bookkeeping, Shorthand and Typewriting to keep pace with the artistic and commercial pursuits of the times.

The Convent and Sisters residing there played a large and important role in the local community. They were involved with fundraising for the Catholic parish through concerts, balls and fetes held at the Convent. For example, in 1925 a fete was held to raise money for the Church, with the Sisters and Convent school teachers supervising stalls and the 20 pupils performed as an orchestra (Brisbane Courier, 23 November 1925:19).

As a cornerstone of parish and school for many decades, the Convent grew to accommodate a large number of Sisters during a 30 year period from 1940, where at times up to 20 nuns plus boarders and domestic staff resided there.

The Convent was originally named The Convent of the Lady of Mt Carmel after Sister Mary Wilfrid’s Mt Carmel School at Yass (formed after the Sisters arrived in the small New South Wales town in 1875). To honour the past, the building was renamed The Mt Carmel Centre as a sign of respect to the Sisters of Mercy.

(Content Courtesy - Australian Heritage Specialists Conservation Management Plan 2016)