Our Story

Brigidines began the work of proclaiming the Reign of God through their lives and work in Ireland and then in other parts of the world.

In 1842, the parish priest of Abbeyleix, who had worked with the Brigidines in Tullow, asked for their help in his new parish. In response, three of the community were sent there. Then, in 1858 a layman in Goresbridge, who had a niece in the Tullow community, offered to help finance a foundation in his parish. The foundations in Paulstown (1874) and Ballyroan (1877) followed a few short years after Abbeyleix.

Find out more about our beginnings.

Australia

In 1883, from the “Land of the Southern Cross” came a cry for help in Christian Education, when Bishop Murray of Maitland diocese, requested sisters. Six sisters from Mountrath set sail for Australia to found the first Brigidine convent in Coonamble, New South Wales. From there other foundations were made in the Dioceses of Sydney, Bathurst, Canberra Goulburn, Perth and Brisbane.

In 1886 a second Australian foundation was established in Echuca, Victoria, with the Sisters coming direct from Tullow. This foundation was at the request of Dr. Crane, O.M.I. Bishop of Sandhurst. This was followed by a group from the Abbeyleix community to Beechworth, Victoria in November of that same year when Dean Tierney of Beechworth made the request to Dr. Crane of Sandhurst. Sisters from Goresbridge established a convent and school in Wangaratta, Victoria in 1887. A combined group from Abbeyleix and Goresbridge went to Ararat in 1888, Victoria. Amalgamation of all the Brigidine foundations took place in 1889.

New Zealand

In 1898 a group of six Irish Sisters, two from Cooma and four from Coonamble crossed the Tasman Sea to establish the first New Zealand Brigidine Foundation at Masterton. A young Irish priest, Fr. McKenna, bound for the diocese of Wellington, New Zealand, had met the Brigidines on the ship that carried the first sisters to Australia in 1883 and he was instrumental in inviting them to New Zealand.

To find out more visit www.brigidine.org.nz

USA, UK, PNG, Africa, Latin America and other places

In the 20th century, the Irish Province added to its outreach in Dublin. Dartmouth Road in Dublin was bought as a hostel for Sisters attending the University – Brigidines were one of the first congregations to attend UCD.

In 1939, Brigidines opened a foundation in Denbigh, North Wales and started a boarding school. In 1948, they were invited to start a school in Windsor, England. Sisters were invited to teach in a Secondary Modern School in Gillmoss, Liverpool in 1959. In the 1980s and 1990s, Brigidine communities lived and worked in parishes, retreat houses and schools in Leeds, Slough, Shoeburyness and Saffron Walden.

In 1953, foundations were made in the United States of America in San Antonio and Beloit. In August, 1953 six pioneers from the Irish-United Kingdom Province set out from the port of Cobh in Co. Cork on the ship the Mauritania bound for San Antonio, Texas. They came at the request of the bishop at that time, Archbishop Robert Lucey. The Northwest area of the city of San Antonio was growing rapidly. There was a great need for sisters to staff the new schools being built in each new developing parish.

More recently the U.S. Brigidines, while continuing in the ministry of education, have also moved into a variety of other pastoral settings, both locally in the Archdiocese of San Antonio and also in the Archdiocese of Boston, Mass. and in the Diocese of Wilmington, DL.

From the two Australian Provinces, NSW and Victoria, sisters went to Hohola, Erima and Kiunga in Papua New Guinea. Brigidine mission outreach also extended to Zambia, Kenya and Mexico in 1970s and 1980s.

Some Brigidines from across the Congregation moved to minister for specified periods, in new lands, in collaboration with other congregations – in Africa, Iceland, Latin America, Bangladesh, the Philippines and China.