About St Ursula’s - Our History
The St Ursula’s College Story
St Ursula’s College was originally owned by the Congregation of the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who are also called the Presentation Sisters.
The Religious Congregation of the Presentation Sisters was founded by Nano Nagle in Cork, Ireland, in 1775. Nano Nagle was born at Ballygriffin, Cork, Ireland in 1718.
Nano spent a happy childhood in her family home and, during this time, developed a strong faith. The English Laws imposed on the Irish, meant, however, that she was unable to receive an education in a public school. Instead, she was educated at an illegal “Hedge School”, and later she travelled to France to continue her education with her relatives.
After her father died, Nano returned to Ireland. She soon became aware of the social injustice of the English Penal Code and the poverty it inflicted on her people. She decided she would provide education for those children who were not permitted to attend public schools.
Nano secretly rented rooms in various parts of the city of Cork and started classes for children. Soon, she had seven schools containing four hundred children, five schools for girls and two for boys.
Nano’s dedication to the poor was not confined to schools. After spending her days at her school, she searched the narrow streets, guided by a lantern, tended to the sick and destitute and shared God’s love with them. She became known as “The Lady of the Lamp”.
After many years of service to the poor, Nano’s health began to fail. She decided to found a religious Congregation which would continue her work. This was the beginning of the “Presentation Story”.Many young women joined the Congregation of the Presentation Sisters and migrated to different areas of the world to continue Nano’s work.
In 1866, the Presentation Sisters first came to Australia and, in 1900, they established a convent in Longreach, Queensland. St Ursula’s College, Yeppoon, was founded from the Presentation College in Longreach.
In January 1917, a Catholic Primary School was blessed and opened by Bishop Shiel on the current site of St Ursula’s College Yeppoon. In 1918 a Secondary School commenced operation.
At first, the premises consisted of a two-storey building that provided accommodation for the Sisters as well as the classrooms and dormitories for the students.
From the very first year of its existence, St Ursula’s became known not only for its high level of academic achievement but also for its cultural pursuits.
Early memorabilia reveal a wide range of Music presentations, cultural and sporting activities.
In 1922, a new building was erected which became the Convent. This building still stands at the top of the driveway and is now called Gabriel Hogan House.
The College community endured many difficulties over the years especially during the Great Depression and World War II. Years of flood and drought also impacted on the College enrolments at times. The Presentation Sisters, however, determined to provide an education for girls who would otherwise not have the opportunity.
In 1992, the Presentation Sisters took the significant step of forming a company, St Ursula’s College Ltd, to ensure that St Ursula’s would continue in the Presentation tradition after Religious Leadership ceased. A Board of Directors was appointed to assume responsibility for governance.
In June 2014, the Canonical sponsorship of the College was transferred to Mercy Partners. The College continues in the Presentation tradition under the guidance of the St Ursula’s College Board and with the dedication and commitment of the Principal, College Leadership Team and staff.
In 2015 Year 7 students commenced enrolment at the College.
Further information is available at www.presentationsistersunion.org
Mercy Partners is an entity of the Catholic Church which was set up with Vatican approval in Queensland in November 2008.
How is Mercy Partners structured?
Mercy Partners is a Public Juridic Person, i.e. it has a legal identity within the Church in accordance with Church (Canon) law. It is also incorporated in Civil Law under the Roman Catholic Church (Incorporation of Church Entities) Act 1994 Qld. Thus Mercy Partners has legal status, both in Civil Law and Church Law, in accordance with its Statutes and Constitution. It is currently structured with a governing Council of seven. A small executive and administrative staff supports the Council.
What change does transfer make to the operation of each ministry?
At the operational level, there is little, if any, change. The major change is at the governance level where, instead of the ministry being ultimately responsible to its current sponsoring Congregation, it is responsible to Mercy Partners. In general, whatever relationship the ministry has with its current sponsoring Congregation, it will have with Mercy Partners upon transfer.
What is the principal responsibility of Mercy Partners to its ministries?
The primary responsibility of Mercy Partners is to ensure that each of its ministries acts in accordance with its status as a Church sponsored ministry. To this end, Mercy Partners has certain powers reserved to it, and these are spelled out in the Constitution of each ministry. These reserve powers ensure that the ministry continues to operate and be recognised as a ministry of the Catholic Church.