At St Paul’s we have a House system, as is customary in many schools. The four Houses are:
A brief biography of each Patron follows. Of the four, in his book ‘Called to be Church in Australia’, Denis Edwards comments:
"The 19th century church was in many ways aligned with the poor of this country.
Fr John Therry, Bishop Polding, Caroline Chisholm and St Mary MacKillop are representatives of a church engaged with those who were on the underside of Australian history".
Apart from their individual significance, the choice of these four house patrons reminds us to be aware of the suffering and needs of the marginalised of our 21st century society. It has been pointed out that the Church recognises in those who are poor and who suffer, the image of her poor and suffering founder". (LG8)
John Therry was one of Australia's first two official Catholic Chaplains and arrived from Ireland in 1820 at the age of thirty. It is said of him that between 1820 and 1830 he dominated the small world of Australian Catholicism as a dynamo of apostolic energy. In Sydney he devoted a large amount of his attention to jailed convicts.
He constantly travelled the colony on horseback and fought against the control of Catholic lives by officialdom. For example, he opposed the reservation of orphan schools to practitioners of the Anglican religion. He asserted the rights of all to freedom of religious practice and was loved for his devotion to duty, leading a hard life and giving his money to the poor. He was a frequent visitor to Maitland, acting as priest and confessor to a number of convicted felons who were hanged at East Maitland in the 1820's and 1830's. Therry died as the Parish Priest of Balmain on the 25th May 1864, aged seventy-three.
Caroline Chisholm was born in England in 1808 and later converted to Catholicism. She migrated to New South Wales in 1838 and worked for the moral and social good of immigrants until 1846. In the rugged frontier colony she aimed to do good for all, regardless of creed or race, for Christ's sake, and especially championed family life.
On her return to England, she pursued a crusade which led in 1848 to the formation of the Family Colonisation Loan Society.
In 1854, aged forty-six and with a family of six children, she returned to Victoria to help in the turmoil caused by the gold rush.
She is remembered in the local area for having opened a hostel for women on the site of the present Maitland Hospital.
She died in 1877, poor and bedridden and had even pawned the medal presented to her by Pope Pius IX. Her tombstone bore the tribute - The Emigrants' Friend.
In 1866 St Mary MacKillop founded the Sisters of St Joseph, an order dedicated to the education of the Catholic poor, by giving practical shape to the plans of Father Julian Tennison Woods. She later had to withstand clerical efforts to take over her congregation.
St Mary stressed the necessity of practising religious poverty, often giving her own food to the poor and needy.
The ‘Joeys’ worked in remote districts of the country and in slum areas and the entirely Australian Order of Josephites had almost 1,000 members by the time of St Mary MacKillop's death in 1909. The Lochinvar Josephites are well known throughout the Maitland Diocese.
John Polding came from the Benedictine Monastery of Downside, England. In June, 1834, at the age of thirty-nine he was consecrated Australia's first bishop. He arrived in Sydney in September, 1835 and served there for forty-two years. He spent many hours in the confessional and administered confirmation for the first time in the colony, also devising a scheme for attending to the spiritual needs of the convicts. Polding travelled all over the colony, including Western Australia in 1852, generating a surge of renewed spiritual life and inspiring a vigorous missionary spirit in his clergy. He also tried to be of assistance to the country's Aboriginal population.
A fellow Benedictine, Father Ullathorne, said of him, ‘he raised the Catholics into a religious people’. On visits to the Hunter Valley, Polding laid the foundation stones of the future Cathedral of the Maitland Diocese, Campbell's Hill, in 1840 and of St Mary's Star of the Sea Church in Newcastle in 1864.