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Society visits historic chapel

Members of the Bishop Murphy Society recently visited St Mary’s College Chapel, the site where Australia’s first saint was excommunicated by Bishop Sheil on September 22 1871.

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The Dominican college’s assistant principal Religious Identity and Mission, Robert Napoli, addressed the visitors and told them about the shared history of the Sisters of St Joseph, whose founder Mary MacKillop built the convent and St Joseph’s ‘poor school’ in Franklin St in 1969, and the Dominican Sisters.

He said the adjoining chapel was built in 1871, the same year as Mary’s dramatic excommunication which left her and 19 Sisters with nowhere to live. Some were taken in by family and friends while Mary was cared for by a Jewish businessman, Emanuel Solomon. Her excommunication was lifted in February 1872 but the Josephites did not return to Franklin St.

The Dominican Sisters were brought out to South Australia from Ireland by Bishop Sheil and moved into the convent vacated by Mary and the Sisters of St Joseph, on the condition that they took charge of the Poor School as well as other schools on the site.

Mr Napoli read a moving letter from St Mary MacKillop written at the time of her excommunication and took the guests upstairs to the former convent where there is a small window which the Sisters would look through when Mass was being held.

The chapel was restored between 2002 and 2004.

Chair of the Archdiocesan Bequest Committee, Kevin Duggan, said the chapel was a “hidden treasure” and thanked Mr Napoli for giving the Society an insight into the history of the buildings.

The Bishop Murphy Society has been established in honour of Adelaide’s first bishop and to recognise the generosity of those individuals who have pledged a bequest for any of the good works of the Adelaide Archdiocese. The Society is a way of thanking individuals now for their contribution to the Church’s future.

For information about the Bishop Murphy Society, contact Jane Juniper on 8210 8223 or




At the gathering, from left, Ivan Shearer, Henry Myska, Annie O'Neill, Jane Juniper, Chris and Denise McCabe, Kevin Duggan, Margaret and Tim Ward, Mgr Rob Egar and Robert Napoli.


Society visits historic chapel


Society visits historic chapel


Society visits historic chapel