The History of
the Abbey

 - Introduction
 - Building the
 - The Cyclone
 - Building the New
    St. Augustines
 - Current Restoration


On 1st February 1932, Narromine was hit by a cyclone.
Sister Claire Reidy describes the events of that terrible day.

"When I was asked for my reminiscences of my days in Narromine, first and foremost came to my mind the tornado that took place 47 years ago. There were seven Sisters at the Convent at the time, and only two of us are still living. This was a day we will never forget.

"The day was hot and sultry, it was the first day after the school holidays. The storm began about 5:30pm in the afternoon. Storm clouds gathered in the west, and then seemed to rush towards us. The wind roared, and the rain poured down in torrents. There was no record of the amount of rain that fell in those five minutes. The lightning and fireballs illuminated the sky. In fact the sky seemed to have opened up. Peal after peal of thunder seemed to shake the Convent.

"Trees crashed to the ground and fences were flattened. The wind increased with such velocity that the telegraph and telephone poles were pulled out of the ground. The intensity of the storm was terrifying, and we did not know what we would have done had it continued any longer, it really only lasted about five minutes, but the damage that was done in that time was considerable.

"The greatest damage was to the Church, the first St. Augustines. It was completely destroyed. When the roof came off, the walls collapsed and everything in the building was in ruins. The pews and kneelers were later used as kindling wood for our laundry fire. The alter was smashed, Stations of the Cross were amoung the ruins as well as all the statues except the Little Flower. (see photo in Hall)

"The first we knew of the destruction of the Church was when Father Hennessy walked to our front door with the Tabernacle in his arms and said 'This is all that is left of my Church.'"

"After Father Hennessy had bought the Tabernacle to the Convent, he got out the key and opened it, and found that the Sacred Host was still in the Ciborium. He was visibly affected, even to tears when he saw how the Lord had saved himself.

"The statue of the Little Flower was on a pedestal that was fastened to the wall, it had crashed on the ground, but the Little Flower was still therewith just a chip out of her veil. She is now in the new Church and Father Hennessy wouldn't let that part be painted over, he wanted that to be the reminder of the day she was saved.

"Father Hennessy saw the Church collapsing as he was on his way home and he took shelter in the veranda of the school nearby until the rain had ceased. He said it was really worse that anything he had seen through the war. He had been a chaplain in the First World War, and had witnessed fireworks there but he said this was worse.

"The cottage which we were using as a school was flooded out as the chimney fell in on what was the boarders dining room. During the week we had to take up all the linos and dry the floor, dry the back of the linus and put the back down again.

"The Convent was badly shaken and an inspection the following day revealed loosened bricks near the roof. The building could not have stood the force of the wind much longer.

"After the Church was destroyed, mass was celebrated in the school for some time and when the school had to move to the other block, we celebrated Holy mass in the hall. When there was neither school or church, Father Hennessy said 'You will have school as usual, just carry on.' We said 'Where?' He said 'Either place.'

"One Sister taught on the cottage veranda, another in the boarders' dining room, whil ethe open tin shed with its earthen, dusty floors became the Infants School. It was truly a time to remember."