Mother Margaret Bourke

Mother Margaret Mary established a model for the education of young women that was exceptional in its time and would be remarkable in any time.

Honour Roll

Brigid Bourke was the youngest of three daughters born to Laurence Bourke and Catherine Murphy in Ballinahinch County Wicklow, Ireland on 5 June 1887. She received her early education at the local St Anne's School and then boarded at the Brigidine Convent in County Tullow Carlow for the first part of her secondary education. It was her parents' wish that Brigid receive a continental education which was rich in the diversity of languages and culture, so they sent her to the Ursuline Convent in Brussels which taught pure Sorbonne. Here along with German, Polish and Scandanavian girls, Brigid followed the school routine in the morning, and in the afternoon had special tuition in French, Italian, Physics, Astronomy and Botany.

It was Brigid's dream to enter a religious congregation, and with this in mind she sailed to Australia and arrived in Melbourne on 16 July 1908. She immediately took lectures conjointly at the Teachers' Training College, Carlton and the University of Melbourne, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts and Diploma of Education with First Class Honours in Education. Brigid Bourke entered the Brigdine Novitsat at Albert Park on 6 January 1910 and was given the religious name of Margaret Mary. She was professed as a Religious Sister on 11 July 1912 and for the next fifty years her educational work and vision became as legendary as her name, Mother Margaret Mary. At a time when the education of girls was considered to be of lesser importance, Mother Margaret Mary was the alternative voice.

As Principal of Kilbreda College for 39 years, her vision was that of an education where young women would have the confidence, poise and education to take their place in society and to be leaders in their fields. She was a woman with a vision which far exceeded her time and she had the personality and charm to carry it out. Her legacy remains at Kilbreda today where there is the same broad approach to learning and a concentration on assisting each girl reach her full potential and make a positive contribution to society.

As a leading Melbourne girls' school, it is proud to carry on the tradition of educating the women leaders of tomorrow. Mother Margaret Mary established and maintained a model for the education of young women that was exceptional in its time and would be remarkable in any time. She encouraged generations of girls to strive for intellectual excellence and to be the leaders of tomorrow. As a Catholic nun, she engendered in her girls a sense of independence, responsibility and worth.