Loreto began in Australia with Gonzaga Barry’s arrival in Ballarat, 1875 at the invitation of Bishop Michael O’Connor. She and her nine companions came from Ireland for the educational needs of the increasing local population.
Catholic Primary and Secondary Schools were rapidly established in Ballarat and, soon after, in other states of Australia. Her vision for the education of girls contributed to a broad and rich curriculum which led to Gonzaga Barry’s significant influence on the development of education in the country.
Today, there are seven Loreto Schools in Australia and over 70 throughout the world. Mary’s Mount, Ballarat (1875), Normanhurst (1897) and Kirribilli (1907) in Sydney, Marryatville in Adelaide (1905), Mandeville Hall in Melbourne (1924), Nedlands in Perth (1931) and Coorparoo in Brisbane (1927). Two more, Loreto Osborne (1901) and Loreto Portland (1884) formed local amalgamations and maintain links with their Loreto heritage: John XXIII College in Perth (1977) and Bayview College, Portland (1977). The Sisters also taught in more than 20 parish schools, opened the first free Catholic kindergarten in South Melbourne (1912) and provided commercial training for school leavers in Ballarat and South Melbourne.
One of Gonzaga Barry’s dreams was to build a chapel at the Loreto Convent, Ballarat. Her vision for this place of worship was as ambitious as it was beautiful. Please click on the video below to view the history behind the ‘Children’s Chapel’ at Ballarat.