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The Dominican Sisters of Cabra

Religious organisation


In 1868 Bishop Sheil of Adelaide requested the assistance of the Dominican Sisters of Cabra to set up a secondary school for the daughters of the early white settlers of Adelaide, South Australia. A school, with provision for boarders, opened at Franklin Street Adelaide in 1869. The school continues to exist today at different premises and under the name of Cabra Dominican College.


Financially challenged, almost from the outset, the Dominican Sisters of Cabra in South Australia experienced anxiety and upheaval, particularly at the time of Mary McKillop's excommunication in 1871. When both Bishop Sheil and Mother Theresa Moore died in 1872, the seven sisters thought seriously about heading back to their homeland, Ireland.

Cardinal Cullen, Archbishop of Dublin urged the Irish Cabra Sisters to send out their best nuns to save the faltering foundation. Sisters Columba Boylan and Catherine Kavanagh arrived in Adelaide in 1875. Under their capable leadership the order was revived. Cabra College and Boarding School were opened in 1886, St. Roses, Kapunda 1892, Star of the Sea, Semaphore 1899, Holy Rosary Convent, Glenelg 1902, Mount St. Catherine Mt. Lofty 1947, St. Albert's Loxton 1956, Holy Cross Convent Ringwood, Victoria 1960. To all of these convents, schools were attached both on the convent sites and in the adjoining parishes.

Today all these convents have been closed and in some cases the schools have taken them over. Cabra has a new convent for the Sisters and other houses have been opened as new challenges and apostolates emerge.

Related entries

Archival resources

Dominican Sisters of Cabra

Nikki Henningham

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