Memories of Abbotsford Convent on an Ebay discussion forum

On an Ebay discussion forum, of all places, are to be found a series of uniformly adverse recollections by former residents of the Abbotsford Convent, and some other Catholic institutions. One woman’s story, pieced together by me from multiple posts, with a little editing, is:

‘It was indeed the Convent of the Good Shepherd, the Sacred Heart Class was where we kids worked our butts off to feed the nuns and the orphans (the orphans I don’t mind helping to feed …… ) and St Euphrasia was for schooling. So there were four sections in all. When my father placed me in the convent (I wasn’t in trouble by the way, at least not pregnant…), my father got rid of me as a plaything and the convent was as good as anywhere else.

We girls got up early, went to mass, came back, attended the refectory where we all had breakfast (such as it was) then we went to work. I was only a kid back then and didn’t know better, I just accepted their slavery as normal! Hubbys Bub [another poster on the disucssion board] the stories we could tell, your friend and I except my heart already feels as if it is breaking in two. As for my anger it’s getting like a great big ball. I don’t dare say too much else, as right now im not coping well at all.

This I want to say: breakfast was luke-warm porridge with a slice of STALE bread. Lunch on the other hand was soup, with the morning’s left over porridge added for volume! Please, I just need someone else to back me up as I know it sounds unbelievable!

We worked so hard. I usually worked in the ironing room, but did some time in the mangle room, which is a huge round press that one fed sheets and such into! Anyone who knows me will tell you I loathe ironing, hence most of my clothing is drip dry!

We had a huge bath and toilet area. We had a bath once a fortnight from memory and even so the water we used had been used several times before we got in Y…..UCKO! The crows, usually called auxiliaries, would drag us down there and beat the bejes-s out of us if some nun had a complaint against any of us. Never mind if it was true or not. Biff! Bash! And cop that! Until we grew older and now and then fought back.

There was also a method of complaint called standing on the slab. We would walk off work and stand in the middle of the room and that’s where we stayed until bedtime. We could eat the muck they gave us for breakfast, then the nun in charge of our workplace would ask us if we were prepared to work. I was too stubborn to comply and so went without many a meal. Some of the girls would try and smuggle us something, but it was usually at extreme risk to themselves, and many a child went down the toilet just for feeling pity for a fellow sufferer.

I make absolutely no apologies whatsoever for despising those cows called nuns if they were the gaurdian of our souls then god help us. I looked at my granddaughter and thought I wasn’t much older or bigger than that when I first went there! HANG your heads in shame, you women who were portrayed as the gaurdians of our bodies and souls. SHAME SHAME on you! The only time I have ever stepped inside a Catholic church since was to attend a funeral. I wandered around for some time after that eventually I realised I had a spiritual need so looked deeply into the Bible, and now I know what’s actually in the Bible, I despise them even more. Not only because they were nuns, but primarily because they were WOMEN!

Totally unforgiveable bvehaviour, however I can forgive (not easily ) but because the Bible directs us to! I DEFINITELY CANNOT FORGET THOUGH. I have deliberately wiped a lot of menories away, in order to survive and a survivor is exactly what I am and can take a little comfort in that.’

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524 Replies to “Memories of Abbotsford Convent on an Ebay discussion forum”

  1. Theresa ,thanks for your message ,unfortunately I am unable to contact Luisa ,as much as Id like to ! I guess we just need to hope and pray that she will come back to visit .Its actually a bit of a waiting game on this particular blog, as people might only post once and never come back !For your sake I hope Luisa
    returns and sees your message . Warm wishes to you ,and thanks for making the effort to get in touch .Perhaps we will hear from you in the future ,I hope so! Keep smiling , Maureen .

  2. hi again angela and maureen. how i wish i could come to the reunion, but living so far away in malta is almost impossible to make it. thanks for susan’s email add.i will email her and hope she remembers me.i’m anxiously waiting for luisa to contact me as well.i will be looking at this blog whenever i’m on the computer.i wish you all the best for your reunion and who knows i might come & meet you one day. i was last in australia in the year 2000.best wishes, theresa x

  3. A warm hello to everyone. Here I am. I haven’t been able to log in again due to a mountain of things that needed attention and not enough hours to attend to them. Seems the older I become the slower I get. Hi Theresa, I do remember you and all the girls you mentioned. Please, if you would like to contact me, do so at Luisa@lgfinance.net
    The invitation extends to anyone else who would like to contact me also. Like you, when I fell upon this site purely by accident,(must have been divine providence!), I was totally incredulous at what transpired behind those walls and under our noses. Believe me I did not sleep well for many a night. How could any human being do that to another human being let alone a nun?
    I read you are living in Malta. How is it there? Please drop me an email and that way we can converse properly.
    Keep well and happy everyone.
    Luisa

  4. how wonderful to hear from you luisa,and so glad you remembered me. i too was amazed at what went on inside the convent. but as you probably know things have began to uncover all over the world of what went on behind closed doors at catholic orphanages (even in malta). it’s only lately that the children of catholic institutes who have become adults are speaking out. they were too afraid then, and anyway who would have beleived them. mind you not all the nuns were strict. i remember mother helen,mother bead,mother john and many others who were gentle and kind. i suppose though it was different once you were a convent girl, no one to stick up for you when abused etc. i will keep in touch with all you wonderful people & continue to view this blog. your friend theresa

  5. St marys ?? I cant really identify which section you mean Wile I was there iIremember was St Joeys .
    (where the orphans were ),St Euphrasias (the school )
    and Sacred heart Class where I was ,and several others who post here were also .Maybe you mean St Aidans in
    Bendigo or Rosary place in Oakleigh I assure yousome of the day girls at the School and were treated so shamefully ,especially if they were from the Sacred Heart class ,or came from St Joeys and were too young to have completed schooling . Well lets face it they were unable go home and tell thier parents were they?Has anyone here been in the unenviable position of complaining to one NUN about another!If anyone tried they were called a liar at the least,and even at times punished .so it just wasnt done ,and they could behave in any manner they desired ,(THE NUNS)
    Im referring to !I saw so many injustices whilst there, and I cant say move on Maureen ,because Im still filled with anger! One consolation I hold dear is this ,the very GOD they professed to serve saw it all !And saw also the heartache and tears of the girls
    who were subjected to it.Physician heal thy self!!

    1. Hi Maureen,I like Ursula was at St Mary's Our convent was right next door to the Sacred Heart the drive way that the trucks delivered the lawndry to was also the driveway for st Marys,I would have been about five years old when I went to St Marys and ten years old when we left, I remember a girl from the SHC convent looking out the window at the time I had got into trouble from Mother Rita and I was crying she called out to me and when I looked up at the window she threw down to me a beautiful santa on a red sleigh with sweets in the sleigh and I never knew her name but all these years I think of her act of kindness to me Reading some of the comments some of the nuns were really nice but there were a few who were very cruel When i left there we went to Hobartand I was placed in a convent Mt St canice In Sandy Bay wich was also run by the Good Shepherd nuns

  6. Hi Maureen ,so glad you found us ,its a;ways great to speak with others who were there, and hear the experiences they either had ,or were witness to!
    Please dont misunderstand me ,Im sure some of the nuns were lovely ,one I knew for instance was M Perpetua ,
    and at times her beautiful and caring smile kept me going !Do come back ,you are very welcome ,and lets hope you find your friend ,From one maureen to another
    Take care !

  7. Angela ,Im strayaway on your ste. I was in the ironing room ,but before your time ,the nun in charge of that section was a real trimmer ,I believe she eventually became the head nun of Rosary place . Best wishes and cheers Maureen . PS I hope she developed carbuncles !,old beast!

  8. Was at "St. Mary's section about 1951 – 56 under the care of Mother Rita have very happy memories – playing in poultry farm, helping to gather eggs, being allowed to help in the dairy playing and school. Oh – there was also my "charge" Theresa i think who was one of the older girls who helped take care of us little ones.

    Been back once about 10 yrs ago – brought back many happy memories. The girls who were so unhappy and mistreated must have been in St. Josephs section. Love to all Ursula

    1. Hi Ursula,I also was at st Mary's from 1951 and left about July 1956 my memories are not good about Mother rita she was very cruel to me my name was Valerie panczyczyn my sister who was older than me, her name was Maria,do you rember Marleen Mifsud her father was one of the gardners also a girl called Nevis not sure if I have spelt her name correctley, we were the very best of friends Iwould love to know how they are I always think of them.
      the other girl that I remember was Elisabeth Cattle,I would love it if you can find the time to replyalso my name was changed by deed poll just after I left the convent It is Helen my married name is Collins regards helen and I do Hope to hear from you

      1. Hi Helen, The name Marlene Mifsud is in my memory for some reason, I also remember thr names Lauren and Carmel Chell? I was there from about 2 yrs. old to about 5 yrs. am 61 now.Visited the place about 10 yrs ago it was like I left yesterday the feelings were so strong. love Ursula

      2. Hi Helen, now I know why the name Marleen Mifsud always played on my mind for many years . It's been so many years and names and faces are long changed and forgotten. Apparently I was the "little bird" in the gilded cage in one of the concerts when I was 3.. Mother Rita gave me my first spanking for trying to pinch 2 pennies. Regards Ursula nee Gorzedowska

    2. Ursula I was at St Mary's at the same time…remember Mother Rita. mause@virtual.net.au if you'd like to share notes. I was Maureen Clarke and I actually ran away from the convent with 2 other girls and made the news with police out looking for us 3!! I was about 7yrs old then and am now 63.

    3. Hi Ursula, i was at St. Mary's section about 1955-1961 under the care of Mother Rita and have mostly happy memories – playing in the poultry farm, helping to collect eggs etc, i also remember when we didn't go home for holidays being taken out on excursions to the beach, being able to swim in the little pool and having icy poles when it was hot, but i also remember coming home from school and finding my sister caned in the cloak room for whatever she was supposed to have done wrong, and the time i wet my pants, having to wear these huge bloomers to school so everyone knew i wet my pants, so i would take them off on my way to school and hide them in a tree and put them back on, on my way back. My sister Lorisa ran away about a year before i left. I remember an Ursula when i was there who was a bit older then me who also was very kind to me. I have taken a couple of my grandchildren to the Collingwood Childrens farm and a tour of the grounds and told them about my stay, must say a lot of memories came flooding back. I am sorry to read about all those girls who have nothing but bad memories of the place and the abuse they have endured, I wish and hope that their lives were much better when they left. Best wishes Barbara Belza

      1. My mother and her sisters Josephine, Antoinette and Nola Cain. Does any one remember them is was about 1948 -49 until 1960 Thank you Sharon

  9. Hi I found this through my hotmail on friends reunited which led me to this site. I was trying to make contact with Theresa. I attended St Euphrasia's 1964-68. Mother Thomas was my first teacher there and she scared the shites out of me so much that I was too scared not to achieve, which thankfully I did. Mother Austen was another story. I had heard about the girl down the stairs. We had a girl in our class who came close, her name was Helen Theiss, and they came to blows on the back landing. All the girls that Theresa mentioned where in my class and they were lovely girls. I didn't know the extent on there time in the covent only that it wasn't easy. I am truly sorry for what you all went through. I would like to make contact with Theres Attard nee Mamo. Email on maureencrawley@hotmail.com

    1. Maureen, you name is familiar to me.I was in St josephs's twice a very young child 3 years and again between the ages of 10 and 14 until I ran away (to find family) too many times that they would not take me back

      Susan Wright

  10. hi maureen, i sent you an email yesterday. it’s great that we can now correspond thanks to this blog. i remember helen. theiss. and the time she got into trouble with mother austen, infact she was always in some kind of trouble with her, but helen just laughed it off. i think we all got the shits when mother thomas and mother austen were on the prowl. and god help us if we didn’t play well on the basketball court. for you and anyone else who would like to contact me, my email add. is martes@onvol.net

  11. Thanks Angela, I have read the comments above with much interest. I was wondering if any there is any knowledge or if research has been done from earlier times late 1920s to late 1930s. Also does anyone have information on St Joseph’s Babies Home Broadmeadows. Do they have a site for comment as well? Thanks once again – Gaile

  12. hi maureen the nun you are talking about from the ironing room that went on to be the head nun of rosary place was it mother louis or mother our lady that you are talking about they were there when i was there and mother louis was in in the ironing room cheers angela

    1. I remeber mother anne being in the ironing room mother dolores being really nce in the packing room and mother paul mangle room oh mother carmelita school and mother philaphema the fat but nice one

  13. Orphan fears she was used as a drug guinea pig. The Broadmeadows …
    The Broadmeadows Babies’ Home, one of the orphanages used by scientists for …
    at the home, which was also known as the St Joseph’s Foundling Hospital. …

    mc2.vicnet.net.au/home/shortboys/web/Difederico.html – 7k – Similar pages

  14. Hello Angela ,No, I had a brain strain last evening and remembered her name it was Aloysuis ,pronounced (Al U
    WISH US) I DONT THINK I MET louis ,But I do remember OUR lADY.Tall and regal looking,.What became of her ? did she fall head over heels with one of her sisters
    perhaps ?Well Im only being fair…… they surely suspected us capable of such
    behaviour !!

  15. hi maureen i was talking to someone the other day they said mother our lady was still alive but quite sick apparently she must be in her 80s easily angela

  16. Ursula ,I owe you an apology ,Ive come to know that there actually was a small section within the Convent (Abbotsford )called ST Marys ! Until just recently (within a day or so ago )I had never heard of it .I am so sorry if my reply sounded offensive ,I didnt intend to doubt you with my reply .Please come back and visit us ,wont you?

  17. Hi sisters, I know I’ve been away for a while, but have kept up with the conversation. Angela, I will attend the reunion and have arranged the Friday off to travel over. I remember St Marys – it was the farm down on the river side. That’s where they built the swimming pool (that we got to use on an infrequent basis). For the few of us who were schooled, we understood that if we were very good and could get into university we would “graduate” to St Marys where life was supposed to be very good. Mother Our Lady tall and regal – yes, that’s how I remember her too. Mother Louis didn’t have the same presence and was But she was as tough as old nails. But at the same time, given that no expressions of affection ever came our way from the nuns, I didn’t mind her too much. I remember being on the shirt press one day and did the usual thing with a buttoned up shirt – pulled the two fronts sharply apart so all the buttons flew off. I didn’t know Louis was watching until she said “So that’s how it’s done!” Bugger! And the occasional swim in my last year or so – my strongest memory was having to wear a rubber bathing cap, and they must have gotten our swimsuits from a museum!

  18. Hello from the Abbotsford blogger. Glad my otherwise languishing blog is being kept alive by you people. When is this reunion? Should I come along? It would be good if someone could get together an article about life at the Convent, or a series of articles by groups of people who remember the same bit at the same time. Then instead of the fragmentation of the comments, I could publish it on the blog. What we have now is very much a conversation between yourselves. I am happy to host it! And I will be even happier if the other readers could benefit from your collective recollections. How about it?

  19. Hello Abbotsford Blogger. I’m sure everyone would like to thank you for hosting us, especially since it allowed some of us to find each other. Perhaps you could tell us a little about yourself. I believe many of us will be attending the reunion to face, and hopefully banish, some of the demons we have been carrying around for many years. It’s probably a little early in the proceedings to do what you are suggesting and document things. As for attending the reunion, it has been said that this is for the St Josephs and Sacred Heart girls, rather than the St Euprhasia’s girls who only attended a normal school. But let’s see what everyone else thinks….and knowing a bit more about yourself might help us decide. Once again, thanks for helping us find each other.

  20. Abbotsford blogger, perhaps you would consider using a name, as it’s a little daunting to speak with a title. Any old name will do, but naturally it would be great if it relates to you. You do have an advantage here being nameless as I’m sure you now realise! How did your book get on, the one you were comissioned to write about on the history of The good shepherd Nuns? I suppose it’s avaliable to us somewhere, but from my standpoint I will survive without opening its pages. No reflection on you as a writer! If I sound a little hesitant to fess all, may I say two things: one you are not really in a true position to recognise our memories, and two, do you intend to publish any of our discussions for any reason? Sorry to be so blunt, but my name (You know where) is hometruthsplus. And along with Valerie, I also would like to say thanks for your initial action in starting this blog,its already been quite instrumental in helping individuals establish facts for some organiations, they are currently dealing with, and as for myself I have become far more aware of what emotions actually simmer deep below the surface. Regards, Maureen

  21. I didn’t write the history of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd! I have privately emailed the people who responded to my comment. My email to Maureen bounced though. I hadn’t really thought about the anonymity thing. I don’t mind people knowing who I am. I just don’t want this blog turning up when people Google my name. Please be assured I don’t want to intrude on your space. Rather, I am offering a forum in which to tell your story one day, if and whenever you desire it. Don’t feel you’re marginalised to the comments if you don’t want to be. That’s all.

  22. Hi Ladies, I have had an email from the Abbotsford Blogger. I believe this is a genuinely caring individual who has good reasons for not wanting their name or occupation listed. Because of us, and this person’s blog that started all of this, Abbotsford Blogger has discovered some facts about the care of children in earlier years. As you will appreciate, AB is probably quite shocked at what our lives were like. AB believes it is a story worth telling, and it probably is. But I also believe that we need to have the reunion, and then decide what we would like to share with the world. Perhaps it’s time we told it like it was, but I do think we need to meet first. On the other hand, perhaps we need to have someone like that join us for a little while (not the whole thing) so that we can see the reaction of someone who wasn’t there. Then again, perhaps AB may not be able to handle what society did to us. I’m looking forward to the reunion. Perhaps then we will be able to hug each other – a thing we were never allowed to do. Not only did our carers not extend a hug or even a pat on the back – but we weren’t allowed to do it for each other! But that’s enough for now, I’ll visit again soon. Valerie

    1. I was at Abbotsford Convent in St Joseph's. All the nuns who looked after us in that section were lovely women. Mother Eugene was firm but fair as she did have a big responsibility looking after so many of us girls. She actually did hug me.
      Mother John who was so gentle. Mother (Borgia?) a short lady who had a great sense of humour, she left the convent and worked in Myers for some time. Dear old Mother Francis Regis who looked after my two younger sisters. She always had a smile for everyone.
      My job was while there was to clean the bathroom in Holy Angels where the old and infirm ladies lived. I enjoyed doing it and made good friends with the ladies. Every day my best friend Gail and I would go down to the kitchens to collect the meals for these ladies. We loved going to the kitchens as we would chat to the postulants and novices and always had a good laugh.
      Gail was an excellent spitter and on the way to the kitchen everyday she would use her talent to see how far she could spit. I was a lousy spitter and so never won that competition
      Gail and I also worked in the drying room, I remember we would put the old ladies clean and dry knickers on our heads as veils and pretend were were nuns. We almost got caught one day!

      The only nuns I was scared of were Mother Thomas and Mother Austin. Tomo punched me in the back for not being able to work the treadle sewing machine. I made sure I stayed down a year in Form 1 because I didn't want to go upstairs to Mother Austins class I was so scared of her. My elder sister had to put up with her though.

      1. Hi Agnes

        I too went to St Euphrasia's. Mother Austin's class still gives me the creeps. I wasn't the best student but in hindsight it was probably that I wasn't taught very well. I didn't mind Mother Thomas.
        I was the youngest of 7. My two older brothers went there as did some of my Aunties.
        I am now an Integration Aide at a Catholic Secondary College and thoroughly enjoy it. I have been here for seven years and have learned more in this time than I ever learned at 'school',
        Regards

        Sue Pirrotta (nee Stewart)

  23. No, you guys meet up at the reunion and just know when you do so that there is a forum in which to tell your story (other than this very long string of comments) should you want to do so, and when you’re ready.

  24. Valerie, Im so glad you wrote that ,I read ABs message to me and must say I felt like a bit of a heel I have aBS assurance that he wasnt the author of a book about the good Shepherd Nuns ,and I dont
    know how I made that mistake! I must say though it wasnt the first error Ive made, and definitely wont be the last !Sleep well dear sisters ,and til next time ..
    Bye for now, Maureen.

  25. Ladies, with all due respect for your feelings I pass the following on to you with love. Having a mother who was in the convent for five years and having experienced a similar set of circumstances, I request that before you negate the following please think long and hard before you dismiss it out of hand.

    We have heard in recent years how stress can harm you. Well, it is really not the stress in and of itself that will hurt you, it is the way you choose to process the stress that could hurt you or make you very sick. The body in essence is a mirror of our inner thoughts, emotions and beliefs. Every single cell in your body has its own intelligence and is able to listen to what you are thinking and feel what you are expressing emotionally.

    Another example of suppressed emotions and illness would be that of cancer. This disease is typically found in people who carry deep anger for either themselves or resentment for other people and circumstances that occurred in the past. These people were very hurt by the past event and usually carry hatred for a long period of time until it literally starts eating away at the body and manifests as cancer.
    To begin to heal the emotional and mental traumas from one’s past and heal yourself on all levels of your being is to learn how to let go and move on. Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured. With love Gaile

  26. Greetings Gale and many thanks for your concerned message ! I believe we all have some knowledge of
    the consequence of our peronal pain ,however I cant quite explain adequately how its simple to tell and explain the answer ,but not everyone is able to let go so easily !! For myself ,I have been to counsellor after counseller ,MENTAL HEALTH WORKERS etc etc and still as much as I want to let it go and be free,it still sits there ,causing such havoc in our everyday dealings ,and a heartbreaking failure to form healthy relationships.Truthfully does ayone believe we wear our badges with pride ? I see it as a badge deeply imbedded in my skin (my physce)if you will , and to try to put it simoly ,most of us are not even aware of the damage or why we react the way we do ,so how does one solve a problem if they arent even aware they have it?
    I do however recognise your genuine attempt to make things better for others ,and your generosity as well
    Please come again ,and please know we appreciate your message ,if I may speak on behalf of others. Take care Gale ,and indeed all the souls who post here. Maureen

  27. Hi Maureen, thank you for your kind words. I was thinking that all of you are already on that healing journey. The reunion that you speak of will create that forum, and will be a very healing experience. All of you are generating love and support for one another, that’s really all it takes to begin. Your subconscious minds are already absorbing all those positive vibes. Stay well, hugs Gaile

  28. hi all the reunion is well underway we have had a great response with around 130 people replying so lets hope all come it should be a great day i cant wait to meet you all lets hope the weather is sunny and no rain if you need any info on the day dont hesitate to email me regarding it cheers angela

  29. friendsreunited.co.ukhi again angela and maureen, it’s me again, theresa. how wonderful to have all those people coming to the reunion. if anyone remembers me, theresa mamo, i’d love to be in contact with them, i cannot make it of course, living so far away in malta. there is a great website where i have contacted some of my friends from st.euphrasia’s. thought it might interest you. it’s http://www.friendsreunited.co.uk/
    regards, your friend theresa mamo.

  30. Theresa , I will definitely ask about you at the reunion ,Ill even write your name down so I wont forget ! I have a feeling there may be more ST Euphrasias girls there in any case. Wish you could make it , but sadly its not to be this time .I have a friend who attended at the same time you did ,but her past keeps her silent ,however from humble and tragic beginnings
    she has become an amazing person ,and even though her life certainly isnt a home in the burbs and a loving hubby ,and all the hoo ha attached ,AND her illness plagues her cruelly, yet I have never met one so brave and full of life experiences .Her inability to attend is our loss !!!And I feel I would have really liked to meet you as well. Take care Theresa and perhaps one day ??,mind you Im a sacred heart girl ,and have lead a pretty busy life in comparison I think , LOVE Maureen .

  31. would someone like to make a comment that a person wrote on my goodshepherdgirlsaustralia site i explained to him that these details were incorrect any one wish to make a comment about it

    Thank you ‘angel’ for the info re St Josephs Class. I took in all you said, it was very informative, but wondered about the following.
    You said the different classes did not mix, but I think I read other documentation that maintained they did mix in certain circumstances. I could find the source if you are keen. In your opinion are there some inaccuracies in this other documentation that maintains that ‘different classes did mix sometimes’? Or what do you think about this contradiction?
    Q2: As opposed to the preservist groupings were penitents or those from law enforcement agencies kept apart from preservists under all circumstances?
    Q3: As far as Abbotsford goes would you recommend reading ‘Pitch your tents on Distant Shores’ to get a accurate detailed account of interns experiences and nuns activities at Abbotsford

  32. Hi Everyone.
    Theresa, I’m glad you have found friends through the Friends Reunited site I suggested. It is great to hear from friends whom we have not spoken to in over 40 years and compare our life experiences.
    Glad to hear you have had a positive reaction to the reunion Angela. I hope you all have a great day.

  33. Gale and Angela,Kind greetiongs to you both ,and hope all goes well . Angela Even though I have read it over and over can you please send us the date and time and meeting place of the reunion ?JUst for us on this site ,That would be wonderful Thanks and fond thoughts to all Maureen

  34. Hi Maureen thanks for your reply the convent reunion will be on the 15th of november at 11am at the good shepherd convent it will be a saturday entrance via st helliers street at the bottom gate does this help you i am hoping to put some balloons up also will have someone at the gate entrance so we can mark of omly people invited to reunion if there names not on the list they will not be able to attend the reunion cheers angela

  35. Hi Maureen – I was in no way offended. I also remember Wuffy a white dog and Terry a nasty looking reddy brown dog, Mother Agnes who ran the poultry farm,the big willow tree with a swing under it, having the tinny speakers wheezing out music and darning socks on a saturday or sunday afternoon. Am in tears as 50 yr old memories flood back. love to all who were there for any reason.

  36. Greetings to all, Hi Ursula ,and Angel.Did you ever
    consider that there may be some of us wh need to have a carer with us ?
    Also ,as there is no seating available there now ,might I suggest that those who are able, bring thier own chairs ,perhaps even an extra maybe? .I would but I just cant see myself arriving with chairs atop my
    scooter ? LOL Thankls Ursula for your welcome reply,my conscience is feeling a little relieved,TA!

  37. dont strees maureen there should be plenty of seating i will be emailing the convent with the details regarding carers so they will have plenty of seats but the sugestion of maybe a few fold up chairs wouldnt go astray thanks for you suggestion cheers angela

  38. Hi Renee, I was wondering what years your grandmother resided at the convent. I am seeking anyone who was there from 1930 – 35. Her life during those years is a fairly blank canvass, it’s only when someone passes you realise that there are so many questions you should have asked. She was the bravest woman I have ever known, her love knew no boundaries for her three children. I love and miss her every day. Warm regards Gaile.

  39. Hello,

    My grandmother (June Malloy)was at the convent for some time and when I saw that there was to be a reunion she said she would love to go who do I have to speak to to get the details?

    thank you Renee Hallam

    1. Hi Renee – is she related to the Malloy that Victor has enquired about?

      Mary Ann I think.

      I am just searching for his comments so I can post a link to help him.

      love to you all

  40. Renee ,Gaile and all, Renee,I was there in the late fifties
    ?What section was your grandmother in has she told you ? and when was she there? Gaile,Do you know what section your grandmother was in?She sounds amazing ,and I believe the love she displayed
    lives on in you .Obviously you cared for her very deeply to be wanting to search out her lifes experiences !
    I am so glad you are here with us !Love to all,Maureen

  41. Hi Maureen, my mother was orphaned and during the winter of 1930 she was placed in St Joseph’s junior class. She was twelve years old. I am still researching her life and am trying to contact anyone who may still be with us that knew her.

    She was an exceptional seamstress. I remember her drafting patterns and creating colour and concepts for entire weddings. She was a brilliant cook and spoke and wrote with excellent diction. I wonder how, in the environment described in the opening comments of our ‘discussion forum’ did she learn these skills. She rarely spoke of her stay at the convent, however I do recall her saying that-

    ‘The sisters made us wear stays; these were laced tightly in order to flatten our bosoms. We were made to do penance if a bouncing bosom was sighted whilst descending the stairs.’

    My mother although slim in stature she was well developed and I dare say she did her stint of penance. She mentioned kneeling on concrete in a courtyard, and lots of ‘Hail Mary’s’ for good measure. Unfortunately she developed Alzheimer’s, and although living until 2003 she was lost to us, communication wise for fifteen years before hand. Kind regards to all – Gaile

  42. Hi Gaile,
    Did your mother have a seamstress business specialising in bridal attire located in Johnston St. Abbotsford per chance? Regards Luisa

  43. Hi Gaile,There I go ,tripping over my feet again ,so sorry I referred to your Mum as your Grandmother,I get a bit carried away sometimes ,But what I said holds true ,you are a true compliment to your mother! She was in St Joeys you said ,and although different to Sacred Heart Class , back then those poor kids were so repressed ! However your Mum maintained her spirit and showed it in her love for her children .I feel a sense of regret when I realise I never met her and now sadly never will . Caring and warm wishes , Maureen.

  44. Hi Ladies,

    Maureen & Angela – where will I find that article? I’d like to have a look.

    I have kept my memories of Abbotsford Convent behind a fireproof door in my mind for so long I didn’t think I remembered much of it. But bit by bit it is leaking out now. I have been reading the Mullighan report, and also have just read David Hill’s book about Fairbridge Farm School Molong (where my stepmother grew up), and everything brings back memories. The stolen generation and the child migrants came out of the closet long before we did, and I believe that is because we were taught to be ashamed of ourselves and of the fact that we were in an institution. I have never talked about my experience to any of my loved ones. I know that we weren’t really bad girls – we were mostly in Sacred Heart because of our family situations, not because we committed crimes. Mostly we were “guilty” of being “uncontrollable” or “exposed to moral danger”. We shouldn’t be ashamed, or feel worthless – but we do, because we were taught to. Hopefully that will change, and we will be proud to call ourselves survivors.

    I am looking forward to meeting everyone who will be attending the reunion.

  45. Hi Maureen and Luisa, No probs Maureen and thank you for your warm thoughts and wishes for my mother. Luisa, we have unaccounted time between Mom leaving the convent in 1935 and her meeting my father in country Victoria in 1939. I feel she may have been too young to be the seamstress you speak of in Johnston Street Abbotsford. She was discharged from the convent in the October 1935 to the employ of a Mrs Hamilton. My mother stayed in the country for the remainder of her life, only rarely venturing to Melbourne. Warm wishes to all Gaile.

  46. Angela ,I just read the article you posted on the thirteenth of August ,and whoever wrote it is a total jerk,who knows jack!! or else a person trying to find out things. I am far from impressed ! I would sign the petition but

    I need to ask my daughter OR grandaughter to show me how to do it ,I am not ignoring you ,so just wait around and I will eventiually tend to it .Thanks for asking. Angela ,about toward healing ,I felt so mad

    about the process the Church has put in place ,it doesnt seem very fair somehow,but still ,whats NEW ?

    Be in touch soon. Maureen.

  47. Valerie , Angela actually posted the questions on this forum 13th Sept,in the form of series of questions asked
    by someone else in relation to the way it was during that time . The questions actually suggested that the different sections were allowed to mix on some ocassions ,YEAH RIGHT!,or so he hasd read!I suspect the original
    questions were suggested by some one somewhat closer to the convent. Pitch your tent on distant shores ?This is a history of the good Shepherd nuns in Australia and has no real relation to our experiences !AS if,,,they would publish a story that paints them as less than Gods beloved servants? This book will not do anything other than compound our sense of pain and outrage.Have a good evening all ,and Valerie ,perhaps Angela will be prepared to offer you the questions in thier original form . Bye for now , Maureen .Ps /Where do I find the Mullighan report and the book about
    Fairbridge Farm if you dont mind letting me know TAR.

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