Sister Catharina Robinson RSM

Sister Catharina Robinson RSM. Photo by Susie Cunningham.
Sister Catharina Robinson RSM. Photo by Susie Cunningham.

There is pure joy on Sister Catharina Robinson RSM’s face when she reminisces about cooking up 35kg of curried sausages for the Beaudesert Show with her best friend Cheryl Cahill.

They did a lot of catering together, raising enough money to buy a house on Dunsinane Street where they operated Kath’s House respite facility.

They spent three months of the year away on catering jobs and catered locally at events like the Beaudesert Show to raise money for St Mary’s Care and Concern community projects.

Sr Catharina started St Mary’s Care and Concern in the mid-90s alongside the late Kath Ryan, Les Rohan and Doreen Platt, and it continues today as part of St Mary’s parish.

They started out of the old St Vincent De Paul and moved to an office on Anna St before Centacare Brisbane took over the transport side of things and bought the old leagues club on Petersen Street, where Sr Catharina still goes to help every day.

Sr Catharina, who will be 92 on 4 July, has lived a life of service.

Since the 1950s, she has been in educational and social service as a nun with the Sisters of Mercy (known as RSM).

Two framed certificates from Pope Francis hang on Sr Catharina’s walls – one to mark the 60th anniversary of her being a nun and the other for her 90th birthday.

She knew she wanted to be a nun from a very young age.

“I spent my life nearly with the nuns – grade one to scholarship, boarding at St John’s in Roma – I went back in the 80s as school principal there,” she said.

“My father was Catholic, and my mother was Presbyterian. In the afternoons my granny used to crochet and when I was about 4 or 5, I was watching her one day and she put the crochet down and put one hand in her pocket. I asked her what she was doing, and she took the rosary beads out and showed me. I couldn’t get down to the yards fast enough to tell my father. I said the hail Mary and he nearly fell off the stool while he was milking.”

Sr Catharina comes from a family of hard workers.

She was born in Warnambool in 1931 to grazier Joseph Robinson and nurse Grace Glenn.

Her little sister Pauline, 90, lives in Chinchilla and only just retired from her nursing work with Royal Flying Doctors last Christmas.

Sr Catharina’s family farmed Hereford beef cattle at Wandoan, and she learned as a child to be resourceful. Her dad taught her how to make bread and she would cook for the shearers once a year when she was allowed home from boarding school.

After she graduated from Brisbane State High School, her parents wouldn’t let her be a nun until she’d worked, so she got a job in the slipper department of the old Coles department store on Bourke Street in Melbourne.

She became a nun at All Hallows and, despite wanting to be a nurse, studied for her teaching certificate because they were short of teachers.

She worked at an orphanage at Nudgee, taught at Sandgate, Wynnum and Southport and was a school principal at Bundaberg, Roma and St Mary’s Beaudesert until her retirement in the mid-90s.

Sister Catharina has an infectious laugh and loves good company.

She has fond memories of trips to Brisbane with Cheryl, getting Sizzler for lunch, picking up another one of the nuns and going to see a show at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre.

Her connections to Beaudesert date back to visits with the Dunne family in the Kerry Valley when she was sent here for Christmas holidays in her youth, and she is still particularly connected in the community through her daily work at Centacare.

“I think I’ve been given a pretty good run in life, I’ve had good work and I’ve always been happy,” she said.

SRM Print

About Susie Cunningham 0 Articles
Journalist telling the stories of where I live. I love living and working in Beaudesert and when I'm not working you'll see me walking the dogs with my husband Zac.