Sister Janet Lowe

Most of Janet Lowe’s education was with the Sisters of Mercy. She attended St Thomas’ school, Goodwood, St Cecilia’s, now part of the SAC Performing Arts building and then at St Aloysius College for Years 8-12.

In 1960, Janet joined the Sisters of Mercy and lived at the Angas Street Novitiate for three years. At that time the third storey of the Dunlevie building was used as sleeping quarters for the novices and postulants, which meant that students could not venture upstairs.

In 1963 and 1964, she lived at Erindale Convent and began tertiary studies for her teacher qualification.

In 1964, Sr Janet moved to Mercedes College, Springfield, where she taught mainly Year 8 and 9 Maths and Science. At that time Mercedes College had ninety boarders, so as well teaching, her other duties included supervising meals, bedtime and weekend yard duties.

In 1974, Sr Janet was moved to Tenison College at Mt Gambier where she was also in charge of boarders, though they were fewer in number and only boarded during the week.

Sr Janet Lowe (left) with her two sisters
Sr Janet Lowe (left) with her two sisters
Sr Janet in the Kimberley
Sr Janet at Luurnpa Catholic School, Wirrimanu (Balgo)

In 1983, Sr Janet was appointed to Luurnpa Aboriginal School in the East Kimberley, Western Australia, where the community had asked for a Catholic school and for Kukatja language to be taught. This year was spent preparing for the new venture by attending many courses such as mission formation, cross-cultural learnings, language courses and Aboriginal learning styles. She travelled by truck with the elders from Wirrumanu (Balgo) to many local communities in northern Australia to learn how they ran their community schools.

From 1984, she spent five years teaching secondary girls at Luurnpa and learning much about their culture. From there, she moved to Port Augusta and taught in the Indigenous section at TAFE for three years before being asked to return to the Kimberley. In 1993, she began ten years at Kururrungku Catholic school at Billiluna, which is situated at the top end of the Canning Stock Route and a short distance from Wolfe Creek crater. Education ranged from Preschool to Adult Education. Using distance education from Notre Dame University enabled the qualification of teaching assistants and clerical staff.

Knowing the importance of education, Sr Janet came to St Aloysius College in 2003 to support Aboriginal girls but the role soon expanded to include refugee students.

By Sister Janet Lowe