Born in Gormanston, Country Kildare, Ireland on May 11, 1845, Rev. Father Andrew Horan was the Parish Priest of Ipswich for 44 years, from 1873 – 1917. He was University educated and completed most of his studies in Rome. He came to the Ipswich Parish as a temporary replacement for Fr. Brunn in 1874; however, he stayed for the rest of his life.
Father Horan had a strong sense of community with a priority that focused on education for all and through his connection with the community and hard work, he succeeded in making Ipswich one of the very best equipped parishes in Australia. He was a friend to all: helping people to settle on the land and giving his wisdom, knowledge and experience where required. He was inspirational in assisting those who required flood relief during the great floods in 1893.
His greatest accomplishment, however, was his contribution to the building of the new St Mary's Church which was opened in October 1904, the most significant church structure in Queensland at that time.
Father Horan died in 1924, aged 79, and was buried in the Church he helped to build.
Jane Gorry, born in Limestone Hills (now known as Ipswich) on February 16, 1844, was educated by the Benedictine Sisters at Subiaco, Sydney.
Jane joined the Sisters of Mercy on May 24, 1862 and was the first of a long line of young women from Queensland who became Sisters of Mercy.
Following an initial period of training (Postulancy), Jane was received as a novice, taking the name Sr. Mary de Sales. She was professed on February 2, 1863, at St Stephen's Cathedral during the first High Mass in Queensland.
She came with Mother Vincent Whitty to teach in Ipswich when the sisters took over the denominational school for girls, St Mary's, in May 1863.
In 1873, she was appointed the first superior of the Rockhampton Foundation. When Rockhampton became a separate diocese in 1882, she returned to Brisbane where she was appointed Superior in Maryborough and Dalby. Jane was a much loved teacher and educator.
Sr. Jane Gorry spent her last few years at All Hallows Convent where she died suddenly from a stroke on the July 15, 1891, aged 47.
Born in Ireland on November 8, 1840, Sr. Mary Jospeh Murphy came as a young girl to join the Sisters of Mercy in Queensland. She entered the Mercy Sisters on August 15, 1862, and was received on the March 25, 1863.
In 1869 she was made Mother Superior of the Convent of Mercy, located on the site of St Mary's College, Ipswich. She was revered by hundreds who not only regarded her as a great teacher but as a second mother to those who came under her charge. She personally supported generations of splendid young women, scores of whom became nuns and hundreds of whom became devoted mothers of families that were a credit to the Faith.
In 1915, the two-story extensions to St Mary's Convent added the chapel, in honour of her Golden Jubilee. Most of her fifty years of life in religion were spent in Ipswich.
She was a quiet, humble yet hardworking woman of faith, who had a great love of music which she passed on and fostered at St Mary's College. When her health began to slow her down, she devoted herself to prayer and reflection. On April 30, 1928, she died at All Hallows Convent aged 87.
Ellen Whitty, born on March 1, 1819, in Ireland, went as a teenager to Dublin where she saw much poverty. She met Catherine McAuley and her companions who were working among the poor and the sick, offering young women the opportunity of an education.
Ellen entered the community in 1839, taking the name Sr Mary Vincent. She was one of the last group of novices to have direct learning from Catherine McAuley. She professed her vows on August 19, 1841, and she sat with Catherine during her last illness.
Ellen became one of the leaders of the Mercy movement in Ireland and helped establish new Mercy communities in Ireland and overseas. In 1861 with Bishop Quinn, she led the group of five Sisters of Mercy and one postulant to set up their Queensland mission.
In May 1863, Ellen came to Ipswich to open a school. The sisters took over the school building at the corner of Mary and Elizabeth Streets. The roll call on the first day was 180.
At her time of death on March 9, 1892, she left behind in Queensland a group of 222 Sisters in 26 schools that supported 7000 students and welfare institutions protecting some 200 children. She was loved for her calmness, kindness and simplicity and her energy for all things related to ministry and mission.