• Entry type: Organisation
  • Entry ID: AWE4250

Dominican Sisters of Eastern Australia and Solomon Islands

(From 1867 – )


The Catholic Diocese of Maitland was established in 1886 with the Right Rev Dr James Murray serving as Bishop. Presiding over the spiritual well-being of Catholics residing in a geographic area that spread north all the way to the Queensland border and west as far as far as could be reached, Bishop Murray knew the task was enormous, much too big for the Sisters of the Good Samaritan, who arrived in the area two years earlier, to deal with on their own.

Recognising the tradition of the Dominicans as educators, and acknowledging Catholic education in the diocese as a priority, he called upon their Irish leaders to support a long term plan. Dominican Sisters provided a unique possibility. Not only could they continue the work of the schools for the less fortunate, as did the Josephites and Good Samaritan Sisters, but they could also educate young women who would have the financial backing and social standing to become the first of generations of Catholic teachers for the people of the Maitland Diocese.


Upon the arrival of the Dominicans, the Good Samaritans left and returned to Sydney. For the next eight years, the Dominicans remained the only Congregation of women in the Maitland diocese. Within fifty years their ranks grew to include a further twenty-six Irish women and 138 Australian Sisters. They had founded communities and schools in Maitland, Newcastle, Tamworth, Sydney, Moss Vale and Mayfield and set up a school for children with impaired hearing at Waratah.

In contemporary times the range of activities of the Dominican Sisters of Eastern Australia and Solomon Islands has expanded beyond New South Wales to include ministering in the A.C.T., Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania and the Solomon Islands. Australian and Solomon Islands Sisters are involved in education at all levels, administration and research; country and city parish ministry; hospital and university chaplaincy; in nursing and family planning; retreat centres and spiritual direction; pastoral care, counselling and welfare; working among aboriginal and migrant communities; with the materially poor, with those who have a physical or intellectual handicap, drug and alcohol dependency and Aids; with the homeless; with those in prison and their children and with asylum seekers.


Published resources

  • Resource
  • Book
    • Dominican pioneers in New South Wales, O'Hanlon, Mary Assumpta, 1949
    • Ancient tradition - new world : Dominican sisters in eastern Australia 1867-1958, MacGinley, Mary Rosa, 2009

Archival resources

  • Dominican Sisters of Eastern Australia and the Solomon Islands Archives
    • Archives of the Dominican Sisters of Eastern Australia and the Solomon Islands

Related entries

  • Related Organisations
    • The Dominican Sisters of Cabra
  • Related Women
    • O'Brien, Catherine Cecily (1893 - 1945)