Clonard was founded in 1956, after Parish Priest, Father John Tressider, invited the Brigidine Sisters to Geelong to accommodate more students seeking a Catholic education.
The founding sisters acquired the site of Clonard in Herne Hill and began teaching in February 1956 to a student population of 40. Clonard House, one of the original buildings dating back to the 1850s retained its name and the sisters decided to call their school ‘Clonard’ as Saint Brigid of Kildare, the Patroness of the Brigidine Order, was a companion of Saint Finian of Clonard.
The Brigidine motto Fortiter et Suaviter, Latin for Strength and Kindliness was adopted by the founding sisters and became Clonard’s motto, setting before us the virtues of Saint Brigid of Kildare. In more than 60 years since, Clonard has grown to accommodate 900+ students, expand its physical footprint and offer a 21st century education ingrained in the values of the Brigidine tradition.
The Brigidine story begins in 1807 when Daniel Delany, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, Ireland, invited six women to form a religious community in Tullow, Co Carlow. He named them the Sisters of Saint Brigid, after the great 5th century Saint of Kildare. Bishop Delany’s legacy focused on:
Priority for the gospel message of love; Eucharistic spirituality; The spirit of strength and kindliness and an expansive vision of education. From the beginning, Brigid’s ministry was associated with deeds of hospitality and compassion.
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 1883, six sisters from Mountrath set sail for Australia to found the first Brigidine convent in Coonamble, NSW. From there other foundations were established throughout Australia. For more than two hundred years the belief that education has a fundamental role to play in spiritual, personal, social and intellectual development has engaged the imagination and energy of Brigidine women.