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NEWS > From the Archives > Flashback Friday - Mary Ward Building

Flashback Friday - Mary Ward Building

From an exciting new novitiate to senior common areas and classrooms, the Mary Ward Building has seen many a Loreto woman learn, laugh and grow in faith beneath its roof!
The Mary Ward Building in 1956
The Mary Ward Building in 1956

As Loreto Normanhurst looks to adapt the purpose of the Mary Ward Building and conduct some renovations, this Flashback Friday we listen to the stories in its walls from throughout LN history! The Mary Ward Building was, of course, built as the novitiate building, before becoming a learning space and a common area for Year 12.

The decision was made to move the novitiate from Mary’s Mount to Loreto Normanhurst as the Ballarat facilities had become too small to accommodate the growing numbers. This was a big change for the Province, as Mary's Mount had overseen the training of novices since its establishment in 1875.

The new novitiate under construction.

Built by J.G. Pettigrew, the brickwork of the new Normanhurst novitiate began in 1955, and was blessed by Cardinal Gilroy in June 1956. Several weeks later in July 1956, the first novices arrived from Ballarat. There were 25 novices and postulants.

The 1956 IBVM School Annual magazine described the new novitiate to other Loreto Schools, who would have been interested to hear about this big change:

“The novitiate is a large, graceful building of three storeys with glorious views from the balconies. In one direction one can see South Head lighthouse, and in the other direction one can see as far as the Blue Mountains. The Harbour Bridge is clearly visible at all times, though 18 miles away by road.”

We wonder if these views are quite so clear now!

Sr Frances Browne ibvm, who has a long connection with our school and most recently as a researcher in LN Archives, was among the first novices to make their final profession in the new novitiate.

The novices outside the Mary Ward Building in 1957 or 1958

However, after Vatican II and a decrease in numbers of new novices, it was decided to move the novitiate back to Mary’s Mount. By the end of 1967, all novices had left Normanhurst. The following year, the School had renamed it the Mary Ward Building; spaces were transformed into classrooms for senior classes, and the common area allocated to Form VI students (with a television set and lounge chairs) was the envy of the rest of the School.

Students in the building in the 1960s

What do you remember of the Mary Ward building? Let us know in the comments below! You must be a logged in user to share a comment.

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