Our Lady of the Rosary has a long remarkable history in the community.

The first school building at Waitara was established by the local community and built on land owned by the Sisters of Mercy.  Cardinal Moran opened OLOR, Waitara on 5th February 1898 and it was established and staffed by the Sisters of Mercy until 1979. The first school/church was built of oregon weatherboard and measured sixty feet by twenty feet. Next door, was the Foundling Home (established by the Sisters of the Mercy) to care for neglected and orphaned infants and children.

As was the custom in pioneering times, the multi-purpose building was used as a school during the week, a dance hall on Saturday night and a Church on Sunday. Mass was celebrated regularly on Sunday after 25th April 1898. Until 1916, the priests travelled from Pymble each week, usually on horseback. Cardinal Moran said of our school at its opening…

‘It was but a plain and unassuming commencement of a religious school, but the place would also serve as a centre for them to assemble on Sundays and holidays in their piety, and as a seed sown in good soil would send out shoots and grow into a large tree, so would the religious beginning now made develop into larger things’.

We have indeed grown and developed from that seed planted over 120 years ago. Our school has a long and rich story of Catholic education, with a strong Mercy tradition emphasising justice, inclusion, care and respect for those in need. After the Sisters of Mercy moved on from the school in 1979, their work has been continued by a succession of wonderful staff who have carried out their ministry of teaching the children with love, dedication and commitment.

On 29th October 1991, our school was re-located from the Pacific Highway to the new OLOR Parish site here at Yardley Avenue. Our school serves and has close links with the Hornsby Parish, which was an amalgamation of Our Lady of the Rosary, Waitara and Queen of Peace, Normanhurst. We draw on the strengths and wisdom of the story of our past, to connect it to the present and to build the future together. We are blessed to share this journey with Fr Peter deSouza, Dean of the Cathedral, the other priests serving our community and members of our wider parish family.



In 2008, the Year 6 students of OLOR revisited the history of our school. They realised that the Mercy Order values were an important a part of our story and our history. The students researched and decided upon four people who were significant parts of our history and who had helped to develop our present identity. These people then became the names behind our new colour houses. These colour houses reflect the symbols and values of our past that are still at the core of our beliefs at OLOR. The symbols you will now see on the house banners reflect the values and significance of the colour house names.


Elizabeth McQuoin was born in London in 1819 and entered the Sisters of Mercy, Liverpool, England in 1848.   Also known as Mother Mary Ignatius, she was the founder of the Sisters of Mercy, North Sydney.  She arrived in Sydney from England on 15 November 1865 with her companions. They were initially meant to work in Bathurst, but began their Australian journey at Church Hill (close to present-day Wynyard Station). Elizabeth was invited by Bishop Bede Polding to make a foundation in his Diocese of Sydney.  In 1865, Church Hill was the part of Sydney where the Sisters eventually settled. They soon began teaching children and operating a residence for servant girls. Their first ‘school’ was the crypt under St Patrick’s Church.   The convent and school were established in Sydney’s historic Rocks area with a history reaching back to the very beginnings of Catholic life in Australia. They worked for a time in The Rocks and Parramatta, until eventually in 1875, they took possession of a cottage, across the harbour, at St Leonards. They found that people in the area wanted instruction for their children. The Sisters began to teach and by 1879, a convent was purchased in North Sydney, which became the Mother House, where novices were trained.  They then started to move further out helping to set up schools throughout Sydney, supporting the working class and those in need.   She made a difference by educating and looking after many students. She is a role model to the students at Our Lady of the Rosary School through her example of compassion and service which are values we live by here.   

The logo contains a number of symbols that represent this colour house. Mother McQuoin was a devoted Catholic which is symbolised by the nun praying. The blue rays behind the nun symbolise her goodness, pure heart and her faith radiating to those she educated. The shield represents protection for us and everyone else around us.


Sister (Mary) Majella Desmond was born in the small village of Crosshaven, in County Cork, Ireland on September 1, 1904.  While in Australia in 1928 to care for a sick relative, Majella entered St Agnes Novitiate.  After Profession, Majella trained as a teacher.  She taught poor and uneducated students and orphans. Under her care, her students developed a disciplined approach to their studies. Majella tutored students and entered them for scholarships. Above all she prayed always and worked towards the strengthening of their faith. Majella had a particular gift of teaching little students to pray with trust in God.  Sister Majella made a difference to uneducated people by showing them respect. She provided education for the poor and made every effort to ensure they completed their education while fostering their faith.  Sister Majella’s passion was the education of students and the nurturing of their faith. She taught them the discipline of study. Her care and compassionate attitude towards others are values that are role models for the students at Our Lady of the Rosary School.

The logo contains a number of symbols that represent this colour house. The cross represents the faith and values of the Mercy Sisters. The book represents her education of the poor students. The two students represent her passion for help and care for the needy. The words ‘Mission of Love’ stands for her mission, which was one of love, care and compassion. The circle was used to show unity and our journey of faith that never ends.  The colour red is symbolic of her love and reflects her affectionate nature.


Honoria Casey was born on June 3, 1849 in Sydney, Australia. When she entered the convent in 1868, Honoria took on the religious name of Mother Aloysius Casey. In 1888 Mother Aloysius went to live at Monte Saint Angelo, and filled many offices in the order. During her term as Superior, she established the Mater Misericordia Hospital and Convents of Mercy at various locations in Sydney, including Waitara and the Waitara Founding Home. Mother Aloysius took special delight in the schools she established. Her love for the little students was marked and she never tired of hearing the students practising their lessons. Mother Aloysius was very popular. Her ready sympathy for the suffering and generosity to the poor endeared her to many. Mother Aloysius displayed Mercy values to all she met. She showed respect by treating everyone equally, hospitality through establishing hospitals and homes for the poor and sick and mercy when she reached out and cared for others. Mother Aloysius is a role model to the students at Our Lady of the Rosary through her example of living out the Mercy Values.  Those values are important to the students at OLOR and we can follow her life as an example for our own.

The logo contains a number of symbols that represent this colour house. The hands represent her care, help and reaching out to others. The cross stands for our catholic school and our religious beliefs. The heart shows the love that Casey gave to everyone as well as compassion and respect. The shield shows the strength Casey had towards her beliefs and her faith.

“We care, we help, we do”; Casey cared for the orphans she looked after as well as helping others not only those in her care. She put all this into action when she opened the orphanage.


Mother Catherine McAuley, founded Sisters of Mercy in Dublin, Ireland in 1831. She was born at Stormanstown House, County Dublin on September 29, 1787. After the death of both her parents, Catherine went to live with relatives. Catherine sought to provide solace to sick and needy families, to train young girls for employment and to instruct poor students. She opened a school in 1827 named “Coolock House” after she realised the need for basic education of the poor. Often seen walking the streets to serve the sick and the poor, the “walking nuns” inspired many women to dedicate themselves to Christ and to the service of the Church, causing the Institute to spread rapidly. Catherine McAuley’s goal was to educate and elevate the poorer students so they could have a decent future. Mother Catherine was gifted with a profound love of God, which she expressed in a deep love for her Sisters, and a tremendous sense of humour.  She left a legacy of union and charity and tender mercy to Christ’s poor.

She found peace in the Cross, joy in suffering, prayer in action and action in prayer
(Bolster, Catherine McAuley).

The logo contains a number of symbols that represent this colour house. The cross shows that we are a Catholic school and we are close to Jesus. The yellow circle represents the light and spirit of God. Yellow is a warm and comforting colour. The dove represents the kindness and peace that Catherine McAuley showed to everyone that needed her help. The olive branch in the dove’s mouth shows unity, care and spiritual faith.

OLOR Mercy Values

 In 2010, as we reflected on the history of our school and its place in the twenty first century, we decided to focus on five particular Mercy values as a way of keeping our school relevant and embedded in the Mercy tradition.  Those values today form a strong part of who we are as Our Lady of the Rosary School.  They are

                                                  Respect  –  Hospitality  –  Integrity –  Compassion  –  Service