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New Book Traces Contribution of Two Women's Religious Orders to Growth of a City

Religious Sisters have transformed the lives of generations of Ballarat women through their tireless work in education and social justice, a new book has revealed.

The Challenge of Change book traces the contribution of the Sisters of Mercy and the Loreto Sisters in Ballarat, Victoria from 1950 to 1980.

The nuns’ commitment to education from the 1870s provided access for generations of Catholics and non-Catholics to kindergarten, boarding schools, a commercial college, a teachers’ college, parish schools and music education.

By 1980, they were arguably the most educated cohort of women in the city.

Their renewal of religious life, resulting from Vatican ll, and emergence from the 1980s as professional women in new apostolic work, came from their deep spirituality and commitment to social justice.

The tireless work of nuns has provided Ballarat with educational infrastructure, a visible manifestation of their contribution to the whole community.

Their leadership is a story largely untold, but one that should be celebrated by anyone interested in the history of the city, and of women’s contribution to education and social justice.

In her address, Historian and author Heather O'Connor expressed her "undying admiration for a cohort of women who have undergone more change than perhaps any other sociological group in society.

The extent and the nature of the changes since Vatican ll have been unprecedented.

As the most educated cohort of women in the city (some would argue, in the world), they have come through with enormous grace and integrity, with a commitment to social justice that they continue to live outhrough their work with the most marginalized people in our society..."

The Challenge of Change was launched on 15th February by the Hon Steve Bracks AC, former Premier of Victoria and past pupil and staff member of Sacred Heart Mercy School Ballarat, with Veronica Lawson rsm Master of Ceremonies.

Messages to Heather O'Connor.

Further Information

Click here for further information along with foreword from the book.