Library honour

September 20, 2017

Sister Mary Austin was the last nun in Cobram.

Cobram’s last nun will have her wish fulfilled later today (Wednesday) on the fifth anniversary of her death, when St Joseph’s Primary School unveils a plaque to rename its library ‘Coolock’.

Sister Mary Austin wanted the library to be named Coolock in honour of Catherine McAuley, a 19th century nun who dedicated her life to teaching poor children to read and write at her estate in Coolock, Ireland.

St Joseph’s staff member Carmel Natale said she wanted to carry out Sister Austin’s wish to keep her memory alive in the young children.

‘‘Our Year 5 and 6 students loved Sister Austin, but the new students never got to meet her. That’s why we want to keep her memory alive,’’ Ms Natale said.

‘‘The plaque will have a picture of Sister Austin and Sister McAuley sealed in ceramic so they last forever.’’

The school’s Catholic identity leader Jo Bennett said Sister McAuley loved books and wanted to spread that passion to the poor children in Ireland.

‘‘Back in the 1830s in Ireland the young women were treated quite badly, particularly the poor. Sister McAuley took in poor children and taught them how to read and write,’’ Ms Bennett said.

‘‘Back then, to give someone a book was a huge gift; it was to give the gift of knowledge. That’s why it’s very apt that our library full of books is named Coolock.’’

Sister McAuley also set up the Sisters of Mercy institute in Sydney which provided education to poor women and children.

St Joseph’s carries on the ‘mercy tradition’, which is based on the virtues of compassion, respect, integrity, justice, hope and joy.

Every few weeks the school gives Sister Mary Austin Awards to students who have shown one of those virtues.

●At 12.40pm today, students and members of the Catholic parish will gather in St Joseph’s Josephinum hall for a short liturgy and will then go to the library to unveil the plaque.

 - Kenji Sato

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