The Sisters of Charity were established in Ireland in 1816. They arrived in Australia in 1838 and Tasmania in 1847. The Sisters of Charity worked with people who were poor, especially children. This led them to open St Joseph's Orphanage in 1879, they later ran cottage care and Family Group Homes. In 2021, the Sisters were involved in health and aged care, education, social services and issues of social justice.
Sisters Joan Cahill, de Sales O'Brien, and Mary Xavier Williams from Parramatta, New South Wales, established the Sisters of Charity in Tasmania. They set up their convent in the presbytery in Harrington Street behind St Joseph's Catholic Church opposite the site where they would open St Joseph's Orphanage.
According to the 1949 Constitution of the Sisters of Charity, the Sister-in-Charge should know each girl in the orphanage and her history personally. The Constitution also emphasised the importance of the girls' health. Diet was supposed to be appropriate for growing children and cleanliness maintained by adequate numbers of baths and toilets. Dormitories had to be well-ventilated. The orphanage was expected to provide regular medical and dental care, and education was 'a sacred duty'. The girls were "to be prepared to live their lives as good citizens on earth, so that they may be worthy of entrance to their true Home - Heaven".
In the 1960's the Sisters of Charity started to provide new forms of care for children, operating cottage care at St Joseph's Child Care Centre, and opening Family Group Homes in Tasmania,
Sources used to compile this entry: Ward, Malcolm A, Built by Seabrook: Hobart buildings constructed by the Seabrook family from the 1830s, Hobart, 2006, 109 pp; Information provided by the Sisters of Charity Archives Manager, correspondence recorded in the Find & Connect files at the University of Melbourne.
Prepared by: Caroline Evans and Nicola Laurent
Created: 12 January 2011, Last modified: 2 August 2022