The Sisters on a mission: From Potts Point to the PacificPrint
The Sister of Charity’s Congregational Archives holds a diverse collection of photographic prints, slides and negatives that provide a visual record of the history of the Sisters of Charity and their ministries both in Australia and abroad. Of particular significance is a collection of 35mm slides dating from 1957-1966 documenting the first overseas mission of the Congregation at St Teresa’s Novitiate, Cawaci, Fiji.
Invited by the Vicar Apostolic of Fiji, Victor Frederick Foley SM, the Sisters of Charity were tasked with teaching English and other secondary school subjects to the postulants and novices of the Sisters of Our Lady of Nazareth (SOLN), a Diocesan Congregation founded in Fiji in 1952. It was hoped that this education would prepare the SOLN to pursue further studies in teaching and nursing, transforming their Congregation from its traditional supportive role in the Mission Stations to one which would manage and work in schools and hospitals across the Pacific.
The slides themselves largely consist of both formal and informal snapshots documenting daily life at St Teresa’s Novitiate and at the nearby Sisters of Charity Convent, Maryhill. Scenes include Sisters participating in lessons, recreation, gardening, and fishing, as well as profession ceremonies and visits from dignitaries. The slides also document visits to local landmarks, religious houses and neighbouring communities, including the leprosarium on the nearby island of Makogai.
Cataloguing and describing this collection has been a challenge as the slides often do not contain any descriptive information that could assist in establishing their location, date, creator, purpose, or identifying those in the images. However, much of this information has been revealed through a close examination of the visual evidence, corroboration of details with other records and through working in collaboration with the Sisters of Our Lady of Nazareth. Furthermore, the choice of medium would suggest that they were intended to be shared as the slides could be projected to a larger group of people than a single photographic print could.
Nevertheless, the Archives research continues as some questions remain unanswered, such as who was behind the camera documenting this mission and who created the slides.
Highlighting this collection is timely as 2022 marks the 65th anniversary of the establishment of this mission, marking a significant point in the history of both Congregations.
Here are a few slides selected from the collection:
A Sister of Compassion and Sister of Charity with the buildings of St Teresa’s Novitiate and Maryhill Convent in the background, ca 1959-ca 1965.
Sr Florence Bailey (seated, third from left) and Sr Mark Lehmann (seated, fifth from left) visiting the Marist Sisters in the neighbouring town of Levuka, ca 1957-ca 1958
Sr Baptist Whyte and novices playing with a puppet, ca 1958-ca 1961
Sr Mark Lehmann and two novices during a geography lesson, ca 1957-ca 1965
Images from the Congregational Archives of the Sisters of Charity of Australia
This story first appeared on the Heritage Centre blog site . You will find more blogs here.