Loreto Normanhurst

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Loreto Normanhurst
Loreto Normanhurst crest. Source: www.loretonh.nsw.edu.au (Loreto Normanhurst website)
Normanhurst, New South Wales
Australia Australia
Coordinates 33°43′38″S 151°5′51″E / 33.72722°S 151.09750°E / -33.72722; 151.09750Coordinates: 33°43′38″S 151°5′51″E / 33.72722°S 151.09750°E / -33.72722; 151.09750
Type Private, Day and Boarding
Motto Cruci Dum Spiro Fido
(While I Live, I Trust in the Cross)
Denomination Roman Catholic
Established 1897[1]
Principal Barbara Watkins
Chaplain Kerry McCullough
Staff ~200[2]
Years 512[3]
Gender Girls
Enrolment ~1000[3] (2007)
Colour(s) Royal Blue and Gold         
Slogan "Growing Individuals and Communities"

Loreto Normanhurst is a private, Roman Catholic, day and boarding school for girls, located in Normanhurst, a suburb on the upper North Shore of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

Established in 1897, Loreto has a current enrolment of approximately 1000 students from Year 5 to Year 12, including approx. 220 boarders, and is the largest girls' boarding school in New South Wales.[4] In 2006, the school was named among the top ten innovative schools in Australia.[4] Commencing in 2015, the school reopened their primary school for girls in years 5 and 6.

Loreto is affiliated with the Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia (AHISA),[5] the Association of Independent Schools of New South Wales (AISNSW),[6] the Australian Boarding Schools' Association (ABSA),[1] the Alliance of Girls' Schools Australasia (AGSA),[7] and is a member of the Association of Heads of Independent Girls' Schools (AHIGS).[8]

The school is one of many around the world established by the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or Loreto Sisters, founded some 400 years ago by Mary Ward, and its Sydney sister school is Loreto Kirribilli. There are five other Loreto schools across Australia, in Melbourne, Ballarat, Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth.


Mother Gonzaga Barry led the Loreto nuns to Sydney from Ballarat, Victoria in 1892, establishing a school in rented premises at Randwick. Within five years, the school had grown significantly, and a separate school for the boarders was deemed necessary.[9] Mother Gonzaga's prayers for an appropriate site were answered during a visit to Sydney in 1896, as Mother Oliver explained:

Buildings and gardens, 1897
The college today

Mr Frank Coffee of Wahroonga sent her an urgent message to come and see a property that was for sale a short distance from his home. It had been raining, but as the nuns arrived at the site, the sun burst through the clouds and formed a beautiful rainbow over the estate.[9]

This land was purchased, and the foundation stone for the new convent was laid on 28 February 1897[9] by Cardinal Moran.[10] The school opened late in 1897 as "Loreto Convent, Hornsby" with 15 boarders, many of them girls who had come from Randwick.[9]

Although primarily a boarding school at this time, Loreto did accept a small number of day students from the local Hornsby area, including some young boys. Enrolments grew over the following decades; however, the Wars and Depression proved difficult times. Following World War II, the surrounding shire developed and day girl numbers began to equal that of boarders, gradually overtaking them to the present situation where there are many more day girls than boarders.[9]


Period Details[8]
1935 – 1938 M. Eulalia Hyland
1939 M. Joseph Michael Ritchie
1940 – 1942 M. Judith Sullivan
1942 – 1943 M. Thomas Farley
1943 – 1945 M. Antoinette Hayden
1946 – 1956 M. Rosario North
1957 – 1964 M. Miriam Nowotny
1965 – 1967 M. Josephine Little
1968 – 1970 Sr Jeanne Cover
1971 – 1975 Sr Deirdre Rofe
1976 – 1981 Sr Maureen Saunders
1982 – 1988 Sr Dian Stuart
1989 – 1993 Sr Denise Demarchelier
1994 – 2008 Dr Leoni Degenhardt
Term 2 2008 – Ms Barbara Watkins[11]

House system[edit]

As with most Australian schools, Loreto Normanhurst utilises a house system. The school currently has eight houses, which play an important role in the pastoral programme at the school. They are:

House Colour Details
Aston Purple Named after Aston Lodge which became the first Loreto school in Sydney in 1892. Built in 1865 by John Watkins, and designed by Edmund Blacket, it is now part of the Emanuel School in Stanley Street, Randwick.[12]
Barry Gold Named after Mother Gonzaga Barry who led the first group of Loreto sisters to Australia from Ireland in 1875. She began the first Loreto school in Ballarat, Victoria, and soon after followed that with schools in other states.[12]
Kendall Aqua Named after Mother Evangeline Kendall IBVM, a teacher and art critic, who contributed profoundly to Loreto Normanhurst from 1948 until her death in 1996. Mother Evangeline is buried in the school's bush cemetery.[12]
Kuring-gai Orange Named after the Kuring-gai people who first cared for the land on which the school is located.[12]
Maye Maroon/Pink Named after Sister Kevin Maye, who came from Ireland to Ballarat in 1920, and shortly after to Normanhurst. She is buried in the school's cemetery.[12]
Mornane Green Named after Mother Stanislaus Mornane who began at Loreto Ballarat in 1876. Here she met Mother Gonzaga Barry and other pioneering Loreto nuns who had come from Ireland the year before, and subsequently, in 1879, she joined them as the first Australian to become a member of the order. In 1916 became Superior at Loreto Normanhurst, moving in 1924 to Loreto Kirribilli as Superior. Her last years were spent in the Normanhurst community, and upon her death in 1943 she was buried in the Loreto Normanhurst cemetery.[12]
Mulhall Red Named after Mother Stanislaus Mulhall, one of the women who laid the foundations of the Loreto tradition in Australia. Mulhall worked as the Mistress of Novices for 30 years, and was largely hidden from most people.[12]
Ward Blue Named after Mary Ward, foundress of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (IBVM). Born in England in 1585, she travelled across Europe, founding schools in many countries.[12]

The houses are an important part of the schools community. To keep the members of the houses together, they make sure the lockers are surrounded by the house mates.

Notable alumni[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Loreto Normanhurst". Schools. Australian Boarding Schools' Association. 2007. Archived from the original on 17 November 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-19. 
  2. ^ Loreto Normanhurst Annual Report 2006 (accessed:15-08-2007)
  3. ^ a b Loreto Normanhurst- About Archived 1 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine. (accessed:26-05-2007)
  4. ^ a b Loreto Normanhurst- Information Booklet (accessed:16-06-2007)
  5. ^ "AHISA Schools". New South Wales. Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia. November 2007. Archived from the original on 2 November 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-19. 
  6. ^ "Metro North North West". NSW Independent Schools by Region. The Association of Independent Schools of New South Wales. Archived from the original on 29 August 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-28. 
  7. ^ Butler, Jan (2006). "Member Schools". Members. The Alliance of Girls' Schools Australasia. Archived from the original on 19 July 2008. Retrieved 2007-12-19. 
  8. ^ a b "Heads of New South Wales Independent Girls' Schools". About AHIGS. Association of Heads of Independent Girls Schools. Archived from the original on 27 September 2008. Retrieved 2007-11-28. 
  9. ^ a b c d e "Boarding". Archives. Loreto Normanhurst. Archived from the original on 2 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-01. 
  10. ^ "Institute of the B.V.M: Loreto Convent, Hornsby, N.S.W" (PDF). Curriculum. Loreto Normanhurst Archives. 1901. Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-01. 
  11. ^ "Announcement of New Principal" (PDF). Loreto Normanhurst. 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-29. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h "Houses". Archives. Loreto Normanhurst. Archived from the original on 2 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-01. 
  13. ^ "ASC Media Awards 2009 - Finalists". Australian Sports Commission website. Australian Government. Retrieved 25 July 2011. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Meagher, F. 1997. Loreto Normanhurst: A Century of Memories 1897-1997. Allen & Unwin: St. Leonards, NSW. ISBN 1-86448-353-9.
  • Emilsen, S. and Callaghan, M. 2006. A School With Spirit: Loreto Kirribilli. Alliance Distribution Service. ISBN 978-1-74114-922-7.

External links[edit]