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Queensland - Organisation

Catholic School, Thursday Island (1887 - )

Catholic and School
Alternative Names
  • St Henry’s Thursday Island (Also known as)

The Catholic School, Thursday Island opened in 1887 and was run by the Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. Mainly European, Filipino and Torres Strait Island children attended the school, which was part of the Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Mission. In 1967 the running of the school was handed over to the Order of the Sisters of Mercy. The school was still operating in 2014.


The school was originally established on the closed-in verandah of the convent in 1887. Conditions improved when in 1890 a new two-storey school building was erected. Most of the children attending the school lived in a residential institution called St Henry's Roman Catholic Asylum, with the Sisters caring for them. The orphanage children would return home to their families during holiday times.

When World War II reached the Torres Strait, with air raids on Horn Island in March 1942, the Mission was evacuated and residents moved to Cooyar, near Toowoomba. With residents returning to the island in 1946 the school reopened, however the orphanage remained closed.

In 1938, responsibility for the Mission was transferred from the Vicariate Apostolic of Papua to the Diocese of Darwin. In 1967, Thursday Island became part of the Diocese of Cairns.

In 1967 the Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart handed control of the school to the Order of the Sisters of Mercy.

Related Organisations



  • Lamb, Barry Brother, History of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart School, Thursday Island, Catholic Education, Diocese of Cairns, Cairns, 2012. Details

Prepared by: Lee Butterworth