Permanent reminder of St. Mary of the Cross MacKillop in Trunkey

On 18th February 2014, Bishop Michael McKenna unveiled and blessed a plaque commemorating the visit of St. Mary of the Cross MacKillop to Trunkey Creek in January 1876. It is located in the public area alongside the Trunkey Creek Memorial Wall.

The project of erecting some kind of commemorative memorial in honour of Mary MacKillop and the Sisters of St. Joseph who conducted the Catholic school in the town, was the brainchild of Bruce and Pat Burke - Trunkey Creek residents and members of the Catholic community. Sadly Bruce passed away a few years ago. Later, Pat determined to carry out her husband’s wishes - an idea which was enthusiastically supported by the Trunkey Creek community. With the assistance of that community, Father Tony Mannix of the Cathedral Parish in Bathurst and a grant from the Heritage Fund of the Bathurst Regional Council, the project was completed.

The Sisters of St. Joseph opened a convent and took over the denominational school at Trunkey Creek in August.1874. Mother Mary MacKillop made a quick visit to them and the school children in January 1876. Later that month a number of circumstances, including falling numbers in the school, ill health among the sisters and the uncertainty of the future of the Josephite Sisters in the Bathurst Diocese, caused the school and convent to be closed. The Sisters never returned to Trunkey Creek on a permanent basis, although through the years they have maintained their connection with the town through giving instruction to the children and visiting the people.

The unveiling ceremony was attended by Mrs Pat Burke whose informative speech outlined her husband’s wishes regarding the plaque. Also present were a number of Sisters of St. Joseph and members of the Trunkey Creek community. Father Tony Mannix was MC for the event, while Father Pat O’Regan, Dean of the Cathedral, carried out the role of official photographer. Trunkey Creek is part of the Cathedral Parish. After the ceremony, everyone moved to the hall where they enjoyed a delicious supper and much conversation.

Marie Crowley

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