St Carthage's College for Young Ladies was established at Brooklyn in 1907, when a member of the Sisters of Mercy North Sydney Congregation inherited Lineham's Hotel. The hotel was converted to a Convent of Mercy and a section of the building was set aside as St Carthage's College for Young Ladies. The facility was opened by Cardinal Moran on 24 September 1907.
Brooklyn was an isolated fishing village, located on the Lower Hawkesbury, between Hornsby and Gosford. Although tiny, it was an important river crossing, providing a punt service and inns for road traffic. It remained a stopping point after the railway and road bridge were built. The conversion of one of the riverside hotels to a Convent of Mercy was no small change in the nature of life in the village.
The Mercy Sisters were already known in Brooklyn through their monthly visits by train from North Sydney. They taught religion and supplemented the work of priests who visited the area. The Hotel provided the Sisters with an opportunity to take up residence and make a new foundation in Brooklyn.
St Carthage's was intended to provide isolated families in the area with education for girls. It was registered to take 40 children and offered care and a basic education, including to children with special needs. The school was eventually opened to day pupils.
The Sisters of Mercy funded the school through an annual fete, together with some bequests, donations and the generous efforts of friends and volunteers. An old hall built in about 1914, opposite the Hotel, served as a school, church and an entertainment centre.
As the unemployment and poverty caused by the 1930s Depression hit, the number of children entering institutions increased. The Sisters of Mercy became focused on child care and in 1931, the centenary of the foundation of the Sisters of Mercy, St Carthage's was renamed St Catherine's Orphanage, in honour of the founder of the order, Sister Catherine McAuley.
06 June 2018
Cite this: http://www.findandconnect.gov.au/guide/nsw/NE01200
First published by the Find & Connect Web Resource Project for the Commonwealth of Australia, 2011
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