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Loreto Convent – Now Wenakker
Mashishing (Lydenburg), Mpumalanga

Street:47 Church Street

The Right Reverend Charles Monginoux, O.M.I., the then Bishop of the Transvaal Vicariate, asked the Loreto Nuns of Pretoria to establish a convent school at Lydenburg.

The first five Nuns - Mother Mary Theresa Colohan (Superior), Mother Evangelist, Mother Mary Ignatius, Mother Mary Berchmans and Sister Aloysius - escorted by three Oblate Fathers left Pretoria by ox-wagon on February if 11th 1893, for Lydenburg.

After a strenuous journey of crossing rough country (some parts on foot), and several rivers in flood, the weary Nuns reached Lydenburg early in March. They received a hearty welcome from the Catholics of the town, several staunch Irish Catholic families. The McGees, the Donovans and the Quinlans were amongst the families that rejoiced in the prospect of being able to practice their religion fully and give their children the blessing of a Catholic education. From their midst, five years later, came a recruit to Loreto's ranks in the person of Mother Mary Philomena Quinlan.

At first a small thatched building was used as convent and school. The beautiful Loreto Convent was completed in 1899? and the nuns and school children moved in the same year.

In 1918 the church was built and blessed by the late Bishop Cox, O.M.I. The late Mrs. Andrews donated the beautiful marble altar in the church in 1926, though it was only installed in 1929.

Although they experienced some animosity from the local Calvinistic community, their work and activities continued to be very successful, until 1969. In this year the personnel was transferred to other centres, and the Convent was officially closed.

The building was bought by the Vroue Federasie and is currently (2010) used as a training centre for the mentally handicapped, and is known as Wenakker.

[Information supplied by the Lydenburg Museum]

All truncated references not fully cited below are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.