Mother Vincent Whitty : With special reference to her contribution to education in Queensland

O'Donoghue, Frances (1969). Mother Vincent Whitty : With special reference to her contribution to education in Queensland Master's Thesis, Graduate School of Education, The University of Queensland.

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Author O'Donoghue, Frances
Thesis Title Mother Vincent Whitty : With special reference to her contribution to education in Queensland
School, Centre or Institute Graduate School of Education
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 1969
Thesis type Master's Thesis
Open Access Status File (Publisher version)
Total pages 314
Language eng
Subjects 330100 Education Studies
Formatted abstract
      This study of Mother Vincent Whitty was undertaken to investigate the role of the Sister of Mercy who introduced the first Teaching Order to Queensland, and to assess her contribution to the educational pattern of her adopted country. The thirty years of her teaching life in Queensland coincided with a vital stage in the growth of Church and State; but apart from the nineteenth century aspect of her contribution, Mother Vincent's work has a contemporary relevance, since she provided her Order with the dynamism and unity needed to adapt to new historical situations.

      However, before an appraisal could be made of Mother Vincent's aims and achievements, it was necessary to detach her from the shadow of the imposing figure of the co-founder of Catholic education in Queensland, Bishop James Quinn. This was done in the opening chapter by standing Mother Vincent against the backdrop of social conditions in Ireland during her two decades as a religious in Dublin, before Bishop Quinn became her ecclesiastical superior. During this time, Mother Vincent's basic quest was freedom, for like Daniel O'Connell, "the Liberator", if in a different mode. Mother Vincent sought to realize the ideal of a free Church in a free State, with education as her main weapon. From this preliminary chapter, one may determine whether Mother Vincent was in her own right a person to engage interest and sympathy, a woman who could make her own decisions, an educator of vision and initiative.

      The succeeding chapters, II to VI, provide a more detailed analysis of her three decades in Queensland, and her attempt to solve the problem of tension between freedom and responsibility when she found herself challenged by state domination in education, the tyranny of distance and poverty in a pioneering colony, the stringent control of Bishop Quinn, and a reversion to unconstitutional autocracy within her own community. 

      The course taken by these conflicts reveals Mother Vincent's strength and weakness. No towering genius, no original theorist, she yet brought to the colony a fresh concept of education, and great initiative. Though her retiring and modest habits prevented her from manifesting a striking individuality, this first Superior of the Mercy nuns revealed an unparalleled gift for group work and social harmony. Her major accomplishment was to find a provisional solution to the tension in the areas outlined, and to adapt a stable system of Catholic education to the needs of a pluralist society.
Keyword Whitty, Vincent, Mother, 1819-1892
Catholic Church -- Education -- Queensland
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