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New Ursuline Convent Chapel (Feb. 1930).

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The Catholic Press (NSW), Thursday 13 February 1930


New Ursuline Convent Chapel.


Costing £11,600 to build, and beautifully designed and decorated, the new chapel at the Ursuline Convent, Armidale, was formally blessed and opened by his Lordship the Bishop of Armidale on Sunday afternoon, 9th inst., in the presence of a large gathering. Among other clergy present were the Coadjutor-Bishop of Armidale (Right Rev. Dr. Coleman), the Coadjutor-Bishop of Maitland (Right Rev. Dr. Gleeson) and Right Rev. Monsignor Tobin (Glen Innes). The chapel was built by Mr. Doran, a Newcastle contractor, to the plans of Mr. Gannon, the well-known Newcastle architect. Much of the furniture and many of the fittings were gifts from friends of the Ursulines. The High Altar, in pure Carina marble and the chaste work of a famous Italian sculptor, was given by Mrs. Fitzgerald and family, of Kunderang, and the two side altars, also in marble, by Dr. O’Connor. The statues adorning the latter were gifts of the Haren family and Dr. Coleman. Mrs. H. Watson and Mrs. S. J. Murphy gave the sanctuary lamp and pedestal; the Hegarty family, of Sydney, the Station’s of the Cross and the stalls; and Miss Ellie McGlade, the crucifix.

After the ceremony of consecration speeches were delivered in the convent quadrangle. The Mayor (Ald. W. H. Watson) presided, and in his opening remarks said that the new chapel was yet another addition to the many splendid buildings which adorned Armidale and made it so worthy of the title of the “City of churches and schools.” “No one,” said the Mayor, “had contributed more to the city’s architectural adornment than the venerated Bishop, Dr. O’Connor. (Applause.)

Bishop O’Connor’s Address.

His Lordship Dr. O’Connor, who received an ovation, after congratulating the nuns on their enterprise, said the new chapel would fill a long-felt want. For 40 years the old chapel had sufficed, but latterly, with the Ursuline’s steady expansion, it had proved too small and congested. Few people knew the value of such a chapel. The good Sisters spent a great part of their time there, their prayers commencing at 5.30 in the morning, when most people were snugly under the blankets. It was 48 years since the first Ursulines came to Armidale, and the wonderful spirit of fortitude, faith, humility and charity those pioneer Sisters exhibited still carried on today. In the more material sense they had also accomplished wonders. Only a few years ago they added a new block to the convent, which cost £14,000, and now they had built a new chapel costing £11,000. Dr. O’Connor said that he felt sure that the chapel would not be long left in debt.

The Crowning of a Life Work.

Dr. Gleeson, after affirming that he regarded the new chapel as the crowning of Dr. O’Connor’s wonderful life work, said there was in a convent chapel a sacredness and charm that no other earthly institution possessed. When Holy Church instituted the first religious Orders it had imposed the special obligation on members to pray constantly for the world, especially those who, allured by pleasure, forgot the Almighty and their religious duties. Beyond the daily Sacrifice of the Mass, the intercessory prayers of the devoted Sisters were always being offered, and he (the Bishop) felt that few could resist the impulse to help the Sisters in their noble work of self-sacrifice and denial. (Applause.)

The Ursulines in Armidale.

Dr. Coleman recalled that the first Ursuline Sisters came to Armidale on September 12, 1882, at the invitation of the late Dr. Torreggiani[1]. “Many people,” said the Bishop, “had come to Armidale, made money, and gone their way. The good Ursulines had come to Armidale, not for what they could get out of it, but for what they could give to it, and so long as Armidale was Armidale they would be found the same devoted band, imbued with the same high resolve and the same noble spirit. Their lives were one of utter devotion to the welfare and happiness of others, and there could be no possible estimate of the debt the world owed to such splendid service and self-abnegation.” (Applause.)

Monsignor Tobin, reviewing the work of the Ursulines, traced the vigorous growth of St. Ursula’s College, and congratulated the Sisters on one of their students securing nine A’s in the recent Intermediate examinations. “Take the educational institutions out of Armidale,” said the Monsignor, “and Armidale would be a poor place indeed.” In humorous vein the speaker advised his hearers to take their money out of the banks and leave it in the safe keeping of the good Sisters, who would reward them with their prayers.

The collection, which realised several hundred pounds, was headed by Dr. O’Connor, £100, Dr. Coleman following with £30, and Dr. Gleeson and Dr. McEvoy with £5/5/- each. Afternoon tea was afterwards served.

[1] http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/torreggiani-elzear-4738

Written by macalba

June 12, 2013 at 8:33 am

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  1. The Miss Ellie McGlade who donated the crucifix was Mary Eleanor McGlade, who grew up in the convent, later trained as a nurse at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, and was one of the 22 Australian nurses killed by Japanese troops on Radji Beach at Banka Island after they evacuated from Singapore just before it fell in February, 1942.

    Bronwyn Parry

    June 14, 2013 at 4:30 pm

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