North Adelaide
Dominican Sisters of North Adelaide
since 1883

A brief historical review.


The Dominican Sisters of North Adelaide are a small group who had their origins in Stone, Staffordshire, England. This English Congregation of Sisters was founded by Mother Margaret Hallahan, in 1844. The foundation flourished and when in 1883 a request from a Mrs. and Miss Baker, of Adelaide, that a foundation of the Order should be made in South Australia, with the intention of taking over the management of a Hospital, volunteers were called for to make this new foundation. Mother Rose Columba Adams, was chosen from the volunteers, to be the Superior of the little band of eight destined for Australia. The group left England on the "Orient" on 11th July, 1883 and arrived at Large Bay on 26th August, 1883. His Lordship, Bishop Reynolds and Dean Kennedy, welcomed the party to Australia.


The hospital required in South Australia was to be a formal institution, whereas the work of the Sisters in England had allowed them to convert any room into a hospital for destitute women and children. Archbishop Ullathorne, the Vicar of the Master General of the Dominican Order, was not prepared to let the Sisters engage in nursing in a hospital in which men were admitted. So the work that the small group had anticipated would be theirs, foundered in its beginnings.

The Sisters agreed to manage the hospital until other arrangements could be made. They decided to move to a property in Strangways Terrace known as "Parkview House" and to open an advanced day school. To supplement their income the Sisters were engaged in making vestments, painting, decorating pottery, needle work and the art of illumination. Many of these fine works of art have been carefully preserved and may be seen in St. Dominicís Priory, Archival Museum, North Adelaide. The removal to Molesworth Street was made, when increased accommodation was found necessary. It was here, that after a few years the existing Chapel and Convent were built.

On 20th July, 1893, the chapel, consecrated to the Holy Spirit, which was built in order to carry out the devotion of Perpetual Adoration, was blessed and opened. This devotion was the fulfilment of a dream of Mother Rose Columba and her small community, one which was shared with Archbishop Reynolds. In one of her letters, Mother Rose Columba said the Chapel was to be a "still centre" in a colony which she described as a land of "do".

In the years that followed the number who joined the community increased and day schools were opened at Prospect, Kilburn, Findon, Salisbury, Seaton and Ovingham. As work in the schools became more demanding and the need for the Sisters to live out in the parishes grew, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament was reduced to daylight hours, 6a.m. - 9p.m. It was not until the 1950ís that convents were opened at Findon, Salisbury and Prospect. It was during this period that a Motor Mission was established in the Salisbury Parish, to teach religion to Catholic children attending State Schools.


In 1956, the Australian Dominicans, men and women, took over the running of a Mission Station in the Solomon Islands. This mission had previously been run by the Marist Order. In 1957 the first of a subsequent six sisters from North Adelaide, volunteered to go to the Solomon Islands.

The Second Vatican Council of 1962-5 caused great changes in the lives of religious women. Apostolates became far more diverse. In the 1989 Congregational Constitutions the following paragraphs taken from the chapter "The Call To Mission" read:- Together with all religious, our apostolate consists primarily in the witness of our consecrated life, and as Sisters of Dominic our share in the mission of the Church is our proclamation of the Word through the ministries of catechesis, education, pastoral care and spiritual leadership.

Dominican tradition requires that the Sisters ensure that the corporate mission of the Congregation is directed by discernment of contemporary needs and their ability to meet them. It demands also that, in fidelity to the Word and the spirit of Dominic, the Sisters regularly review the ministries in which they are engaged to evaluate the quality of their witness to the Gospel.

What the future holds cannot be known but the Sisters believe this is the essence of the Spiritual Life - to go forward into paths unknown and trust that it is the call of their being that will lead to fullness: fullness for each Sister and for those with whom she shares her journey.

Further Suggested Reading:
Brownlow, W.R. Memoir of Mother Mary Rose Columba Adams
London: Burns & Oates, 1895.
Burley, Stephanie & Teague, Chapel, cloister & classroom: reflections on the Dominican Sisters at North Adelaide. North Adelaide, St. Dominicís, 1993.
OíSullivan, Deidre Dominican Sisters of North Adelaide: their history &
spirituality1883 - 1983. Adelaide: Robot Press, 1983.

Sources: Internet


1883-centenary -1983
The weapon of the Order with the word VERITAS,
crown, dog with torch, and the Rosary.
26 aug 1983
Dominican Sisters North-Adelaide SA5006




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