Mother Ignatius McQuoin
Elizabeth McQuoin was a woman who was outstanding for her strength of character and strong faith.
She lived in Liverpool in England at the time when the Sisters of Mercy opened a convent. Attracted by the work that the Sisters of Mercy were doing Elizabeth decided to join religious life and when she made her vows in 1851 she was given the name of Sr Ignatius.
When the Bishop in Bathurst, Australia wanted Sisters to work in his diocese three Sisters were sent from Liverpool. In time more Sisters were asked for, and Sr Ignatius McQuoin with two companions boarded the ship, Champion of the Seas, and set sail for Sydney on 14 August 1865.
They arrived at the Rocks on 15 November 1865. However, Sr Ignatius was most disappointed to learn upon her arrival that her services were not needed in Bathurst. The Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Bede Polding invited the Sisters to stay in Sydney. Needing financial help and having to find accommodation, a house was purchased for them next to St Patrick’s Church in the Rocks area and the Sisters began their work of teaching, visiting the sick and caring for the poor.
The Sisters were unaccustomed to the very hot weather and found the conditions in Sydney quite stressful. Sister Ignatius began looking for a place where the Sisters could get some rest and relaxation from the dust and dirt of the city. She rented a cottage at North Sydney (1873) and not long after the Sisters arrived they set up a boarding school.
The small boarding school was not big enough to meet the needs of the local community so Sister Ignatius purchased a much larger house called MASALOU and the Sisters moved there and opened a school in 1878. The Convent was named Monte Sant’ Angelo.
In less than 30 years following her arrival in Sydney, Sister Ignatius had accomplished much. There were 55 in the community of Sisters; she had established convents and schools at St Patrick’s (1865), Monte (1878), Pymble and Waterloo (1883) and Erskineville (1887) and built the Mater Misericordiae Home for Girls (1891).
Sister Elizabeth McQuoin died on 24 April 1893. She was 74. At her funeral these words were written about her – devotedness, self-denial, charity and kindness were the virtues of Mother Ignatius’ life.
“She was sweet, amiable, cheerful, calm and single-minded. She never appeared anxious, troubled, or agitated, she never showed any fear of disappointments. She was convinced that God loved her and she always acted bravely without fear.
She walked in the path of life with peace in her heart and joy in her face. She spent her life doing good.”