A Brief History
Originally acquired to serve as the Novitiate (a training centre for young men to become Brothers), the property was purchased in 1905 from Dr Edwin Chisholm. After the Novitiate was transferred to Sydney in 1985, the vacated premises were renamed ‘Marist Farmhouse’ and used for young adult ministry.
The Juniorate, (a secondary boarding school for boys aspiring to become Brothers) moved to Mittagong in 1917 and remained there for 55 years. With its closure at the end of 1972, the vacated premises were then used for school retreats and the site was renamed the ‘Marist Retreat Centre’.
From the beginning of 2006, both sites were merged to form The Hermitage, the original name given to the property in 1906 when the Brothers first bought it. It was given this name in honour of the Mother House of the Marist Brothers near Lyon in France, built by the founder of the Brothers, Marcellin Champagnat, in 1824-26.
On the Hermitage property we have two Marist Communities:
The Hermitage Community, which comprises five Marist Brothers, who are a mixture of retirees, the Farm Manager and the Assistant Director. Our retirees are still very active helping out in many areas including the farm.
The La Valla Hermitage Community, which currently comprises two Marist Brothers, is located at the La Valla site, and offers opportunities for visitors to share in their community prayer as part of a contemplative approach to life. If interested in joining the Brothers for prayer please check the Chapel door for details.
A ‘Working Property’
The Hermitage property extends for 155 hectares (about 383 acres). The property supports 80-100 head of cattle, 20 head of sheep and 13 hectares of grape vines. It is very much a ‘working property’ as is readily evident to visitors and guests as they make their way from the front gate to the retreat and accommodation facilities.
In addition to the livestock and grapes, the property also supports an orchard, an olive grove, a citrus grove and a poultry farm of chickens, ducks and geese.
Marist Brothers’ Cemetery
Located on Diamond Fields Road, this cemetery was once part of the Edmund Burke and family estate “Rose Vale”. It was given to the Catholic Church by Mary and Susan Burke, and later to the Trustees of the Marist Brothers who now use and maintain it.
From 1907 until 1917 the cemetery was closed. In 1919 the first Marist Brother, Br Papinien, was buried in the Brothers’ Section.