Mary Agatha (Maisie) Gallagher was born in Warwick, Queensland, on 6 February 1905. Maisie was the second of Eugene and Anne Gallagher’s eight children. She grew up in Clifton where she attended the local state school and later the school opened by the Sisters of the Good Samaritan in 1917.

Maisie passed the Scholarship Examination enabling her to continue secondary education as a boarder at Lourdes Hill College in 1918. She was the first pupil to pass the Senior Examination in 1921. This was an honour for Maisie and for the newly established College, striving to provide quality education.

Maisie responded to a call to religious life and entered the Good Samaritan novitiate, Balmain, Sydney in 1927. There she was given the name Sister Philomena. In 1929, Sr Philomena made her religious profession.

Sr Philomena studied at the University of Sydney where she gained a Bachelor of Arts in 1932, Diploma of Education in 1933 and Master of Arts in 1940. She taught in Good Samaritan Schools in Sydney and Melbourne.
For eighteen years, from 1948 to 1965, Sr Philomena was Mistress of Novices. During those years she trained a generation of Good Samaritan Sisters. She was loved and respected as a woman of prayer, wisdom, and ability to impart a love of scripture and the Benedictine tradition. Her influence extended to the wider community whom she touched through her articles in various religious journals.

From 1975 to 1981, Sr Philomena was Assistant to Good Samaritan Congregational Leader, Sr Mary Ronayne. During those challenging post-Vatican II years, Sr Philomena helped sisters in Australia and Japan make the adaptations recommended by the Council.

Sr Philomena spent her final years in retirement at Polding Villa, Glebe Point, Sydney. She died on 27 June 1990 in the sixty-second year of her religious life.

Her legacy lives on.
Snapshot of LHC: 1916-1925

On 23 July 1916 Lourdes Hill was opened by Archbishop James Duhig. Ethel Lee and Ella Spalding were our first pupils. The iconic Star badge and motto were introduced in 1919. Landmarks were constructed including the Grotto, Hall, Rotunda and the swimming baths down on the river bank. School colours were purple, mauve and silver. The first official uniform of a navy dress with a white collar was designed in 1923.
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