St Anthony's was developed to ensure that Catholic infants and children, especially those born to unmarried 'girl mothers', were not lost to the Church by fostering or adoption into non-Catholic families.
In 1916 Brother Denis Haugh, President of the Central Council of Sydney's Society of St Vincent De Paul, was concerned that Catholic babies and infants were being lost to the Church and in 1921 formed the 'Stray Children's Committee' to find Catholic foster homes and placements. Rev Father J.M. Cusack of St. Francis', Albion Street, Surry Hills and Archbishop Kelly decided there was a pressing need to care for unmarried mothers who were turning to non-Catholic institutions for care, and surrendering their children to non-Catholic foster parents.
In March 1922 Mrs Patchett, a custodian for the Child Welfare Department, transferred the lease of her property at Albert St, St Peters to the Society and the home began operations. Four months later the Society purchased a two-storied property at Palace St, Petersham and the home was placed under the patronage of St Anthony of Padua. Mrs Patchett was named Matron. St Anthony's at Petersham was officially opened on Sunday, 19 November 1922.
Overcrowding was an issue from the start. The home had 13 rooms and a gardener's cottage, yet the policy of the home was never to turn a child or mother away. In the first two years it attended to 186 'Girl Mothers' and 402 infants and children, while 347 infants were boarded out (fostered) or adopted. A new site at Croydon was purchased and officially opened by the Archbishop in May 1925.
18 October 2017
Cite this: https://www.findandconnect.gov.au/guide/nsw/NE00197
First published by the Find & Connect Web Resource Project for the Commonwealth of Australia, 2011
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