Sr Kate Conley RSM OAM
Kate grew up in Snowtown, South Australia and came to St Aloysius College in 1948 as a second year boarder. In her Leaving year in 1950, Kate was a prefect as well as school Sports Captain and captain of St. Anne’s. She also played competition tennis and captained the school’s A grade basketball team.
It was during her time as a boarder that Kate began to explore the idea of becoming a Sister of Mercy, transferring to the Juniorate at Erindale in her final years of school and during her time at Teachers College. From there she entered the Sisters of Mercy in 1954.
As a teacher at St Aloysius College and Parkside, and as a teaching Principal in Albert Park, Mount Gambier, Millicent and Elizabeth, Kate was already reaching out to families, especially to struggling mothers. Vatican ll disturbed the routine of Religious Life and Kate was up to the challenge to search out the places where the Sisters of Mercy called were called to minister.
In 1978, Kate began work as an Industrial Chaplain at Central Linen and in the mid-1980s she also moved into chaplaincy at the women’s prison. She found that one source of joy for her lay in the ecumenical prayer rituals she conducted regularly. It was in these services, celebrating deaths and births, and other big events in the lives of the women, that Kate said she felt “ordained by circumstance”.
Kate was a mover and shaker, not just happy with going along with the status quo, but always looking for ways to improve the lives of the women with whom she had established deep connections. She worked with others in the establishment of Taryn House, a half-way house for women leaving prison. She provided accommodation in a small unit at the back of her house for women who needed a break or a roof over their heads for a while or for family members visiting prisoners from the country.