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Loreto Schools History

Three Loreto nuns, Sr. Margaret Jolivet, Sr. Joseph Calahan and Sr. Teresa Calahan arrived in Pretoria from Ireland in 1878.

They travelled by boat to Durban and then rode up to Pretoria by ox-wagon. Sr. Margaret Jolivet, Sr. Joseph Calahan and Sr. Teresa Calahan, fulfilled their mission on 7 June 1878 when Loreto Skinner Street was finally opened, with 26 pupils.


(With twenty pupils in High school and six in the Primary school) this was the start of the Loreto school community in South Africa. Loreto Convent School (Skinner Street) in Nana Sita now operates as a Primary school and High school.

Loreto Convent, Strand (Cape Town) opened on 1 February 1925 with three pupils. The number soon increased to nine. Ove the years the number steadily increased. The school now operates as a Primary school.

A second school opened in Pretoria 1972 and occupied its premises in Hillcrest, this school was known as Hillcrest Convent which was both a Primary school and High school. Due to the expansion of the University of Pretoria, this school moved in 1976 to its current location and was renamed, Loreto School Queenswood. The school now operates as a Primary school.

There is a great richness in the diversity of the three Loreto Schools in South Africa-Queenswood has the mountain, Strand has the background of the sea and Convent has the historical significance and Cathedral. There are however differences in uniforms, facilities, programs, slogans and that both schools in Pretoria are independent schools and Loreto Strand is a Public School on Private Property, but we are unified by prayer, our school badge, and the heart of our schools which lies in the values of Mary Ward and the practice of the spirit of Ubuntu.

Our three South African schools belong to the Catholic Schools Office (Western Cape and Gauteng) which assists in the planning and implementation of networking amongst all Catholic Schools as well as provides schools with the formation of spirituality and religious education. 

"Cruci dum spiro fido", the words mean-'In the Cross, while I breathe, I trust.'
A girl and a boy in their school uniforms, concerntrating on their project in the technology class.

Loreto School Queenswood Vision & Mission

Our Vision is to help Children develop fully within the Ambit of a Catholic character which celebrates the diversity and talents of the whole school community.

Our Mission is to provide Children with a firm and happy life foundation by:

  • Providing them with excellence in teaching and facilities;

  • Creating an awareness of the child's natural, social and diverse cultural surroundings and African heritage;

  • Creating opportunities for the full development of the child in terms of personality morality, physical and mental aptitudes and ambitions;

  • Living out sound Catholic values;

  • Stressing the importance of sharing our skills and facilities with those less fortunate.

Loreto School Queenswood Song

Our school is proudly built on the values of Mary Ward.

Her God filled life was like a flourishing tree.

She found her walk with God, brought balance in life.

She had integrity; this servant of God.

Put your faith in Jesus Christ

Have respect for one another;

Be an instrument of peace

Love your neighbour as yourself.

God bless our school today

We are grateful for what You gave 

Make us obedient to Your call

Help us to love You with all our hearts

In You we live and move and have our being.

Put your faith in Jesus Christ

Have respect for one another

Be an instrument of peace

Love your neighbour as yourself.

Loreto School, Loreto.

Praise the Lord, give Him Glory

Loreto School, Loreto.

Praise the Lord, give Him Glory.

A photo of four school girls, playing drums in an outdoor setting at a school event.

Loreto School Queenswood

Women of Courage, Faith & Hope

A vintage picture of Mary Ward.


Mary Ward was born in Yorkshire in 1585, at a time when it was dangerous to be Catholic in England. 

She entered a convent in Belgium, but soon realised that this was not where God wanted her to be.

She wanted to start a new religious order where sisters, could move freely within the community, dress like the people, govern themselves and follow the rule of St. Ignatius like Jesuits did. 

Most of all, Mary wanted to educate girls because she felt that they had the potential to do much in the world. 

Mary faced many hardships and even imprisonment in her attempts to get her order recognised by the Church, but no permission was granted in her lifetime. 

A vintage picture Mother Frances Mary Teresa Ball.


Frances Mary Theresa Ball was born in Dublin in 1794. It was not possible , at the time , to get a Catholic education in Ireland, so she was schooled at an IBVM school that has been started by Mary Ward's congregation of sisters-St. Mary's Convent in York, England.

As a teenager she decided to become a num. At the age of 27 she returned to Ireland and started the first Loreto School in Ireland, at Rathfarnham Abbey in Dublin.

Mother Theresa Ball's mission was to create a network of Loreto Schools. She sent sisters to many other places where they created a network of convents and schools in Ireland, Canada, India and Mauritius. 

Thanks to her efforts, our school is part of a worldwide family of schools that share the same values and ethos.

A vintage picture Mother Margaret Mary Jolivet Loreto


Margaret Mary Jolivet was born in France in 1847. She went to school at Loreto Navan in Ireland. Later she became a nun at Rathfarnham Abbey. 

Her Brother, Charles was a bishop who was sent teamwork in Natal in South Africa. He was in charge of a large territory which included the Transvaal. He invited his sister to come to South Africa to open up a Catholic school in Pretoria. 

Margaret Jolivet received permission from her Mother Superior in Ireland and she and four companions left Ireland in March of 1878, and travelled by boat from Ireland to Natal. The five brave ladies endured an arduous three week journey by ox-wagon to Pretoria.

As soon as they arrived in Pretoria they opened Loreto Convent School in Skinner Street. They welcomed their first pupils on 7 June 1878

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