Geraldton’s Nazareth House marks 80yrs

Edward ScownGeraldton Guardian
Bishop Michael Morrissey, Father Gerard, and Sisters Sesilia, Anne, Trang, Gerard and Telesia.
Camera IconBishop Michael Morrissey, Father Gerard, and Sisters Sesilia, Anne, Trang, Gerard and Telesia. Credit: Edward Scown/Geraldton Guardian

Under the cloud of World War II, the Sisters of Nazareth came from England to WA and opened Nazareth House in Geraldton to care for the orphaned, the aged and the poor. That first day was 80 years ago this week.

The sisters, together with nursing staff and residents, celebrated their 80th anniversary on Tuesday, with a mass led by Bishop Michael Morrissey, followed by morning tea in their newest wing.

The house was officially opened by Premier J.C. Willcock on September 28, 1941, though the sisters had taken their first resident two days earlier.

It was designed by diocesan priest and architect Monsignor John Hawes, whose intention was to house orphaned and immigrant children from the UK and Ireland.

However, as the war was heating up in South-East Asia, the migration scheme was put on hold, and the house was opened to the aged, infirm, and orphaned Australian children.

Sister Trang, Bishop Morrissey, and Sisters Anne, Gerard, Sesilia and Telesia
Camera IconSister Trang, Bishop Morrissey, and Sisters Anne, Gerard, Sesilia and Telesia

The first migrant children arrived in 1947. Margaret Ingram was one of those children. She travelled from Perth to celebrate the 80th anniversary.

“It’s a very special place to (me),” she said.

In 1956 the Sisters opened The Bushy School, where Catholic children from the region would spend one week receiving religious instruction.

Bishop Morrissey was a student in the early 1960s, and recounted his experience at the morning mass.

“I remember making my first confession here ... (Rev. Michael Moffatt) was the kindest, most gentle person,” he said.

Children lived alongside the aged care residents until 1977, when it converted to aged care.

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