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1904 to 1913

Although many sisters passed by Australia en route to Tahiti, Rarotonga and Fiji since 1848, it was not until 1904 that the Sisters made a community in Australia. In 1903, the French Government passed Laicisation Laws, which enforced the closing of the novitiate in New Caledonia. The sisters came to Ballarat, and stayed with the Sisters of Mercy while obtaining Victorian teaching registration.

In 1904 a group went to Gormanstoun in Tasmania, where they taught for a year, and then went to Port Fairy on the west coast in Victoria, where they were in the primary school. In the meanwhile, a novitiate was set up in Ballarat, where three young New Caledonian women of French descent were received into the Congregation. Much to the disappointment of their students, the sisters withdrew from Port Fairy and Ballarat in 1913.


corpus-christi-college-werribeeIn the aftermath of World War II, the nutrition needs of the seminarians at the provincial seminary at Corpus Christi College, Werribee, Victoria, were a cause of concern for the Bishops. At the request of Archbishop Mannix, six sisters were appointed to Werribee, where they ministered as infirmarians, caterers and seamstresses, until the transfer of the seminary to Clayton in 1972.

Simultaneously, a home for the elderly was established at Wrixon St, Kew. The following year, a novitiate was opened at Kew, and Kew became the house of studies for the Australian sisters. With time, the sisters from Kew became involved in parish, nursing and education ministries. As the years progressed, a stand-alone aged care facility for 40 residents was not viable, and the residents were rehoused at Corpus Christi Aged Care Facility, at Clayton in 2006.

1960 - 1972

During the late sixties the seminary at Werribee was bursting at the seams, the senior seminarians were moved to Glen Waverley, a purpose built building designed by Cyril Kelly. The sisters were appointed to minister to the seminarians. With time the numbers decreased, and the seminarians and sisters were relocated to Clayton. They remained there until 1992.


In 1977, three sisters formed a community in a parish house close to St John’s Church, East Melbourne, where the sisters were involved in parish ministry, education and nursing. The sisters relocated to Abbotsford with the re-opening of the Formation House, and then to Glen Iris. In 1997 the community transferred to East Brunswick.

Cluny in Papua-New Guinea

Following on from the recommendations of the Second Vatican Council, the late Cardinal Knox instigated Melbourne Overseas Mission, an outreach of the Melbourne Archdiocese in Papua-New Guinea and in South America.

The Cardinal requested that Cluny Sisters join the Melbourne team at Kanabea in the mountains of the Gulf Province in Papua-New Guinea, and a community was established there in 1971. The sisters have been involved in the school, in the clinic, in Distance Education, in catechetics, women’s groups and youth groups, and general mission management.

Sisters were later requested to staff the High School at Bema, another Melbourne outpost, and in 1996 Cluny Sisters took up the challenge. Distance Education for school leavers, preschool activities, and a sewing project have been included in the sisters’ ministries.

Meanwhile the Salesian Senior College at Araimiri was without women to supervise the girls in the Boarding School. In 2007 a Cluny community was commenced there, with sisters teaching in the school and working in the parish.

Novitiate, Suva

Since 1998, candidates from Australia and Papua-New Guinea have joined with young women from Fiji, Rarotonga, New Caledonia and the Philippines at the inter-provincial novitiate in Suva.

Brought from South America and planted in the motherhouse grounds. Firmly rooted in the fertile earth, exposed to sun and wind, the gingko has flourised for 150 years.