Our History



Our first steps

On November 2nd 1895, seven Sisters were sent from Hammersmith to open a Nazareth House in Durban, South Africa, at the request of Bishop Jolivet. They were,  Sr. Mary of the Presentation (Provincial), Sr.M. Etheldreda, Sr. M. Benignus, Sr.Mary of Calvary, Sr. M. Albertus, Sr.M. Joachim and Sr.M. Vincent de Paul. They sailed from Southampton  on a ship named “The Greek”.  Captain Maloney took great care of them  and they enjoyed a very pleasant journey.   They arrived in Cape Town on Sunday 24th November, where they were lovingly welcomed by our Sisters. They stayed with them until the next day when they again embarked and proceeded along the coast to Port Elizabeth. Again they were greeted by our Sisters and stayed with them until the 30th. Bishop Jolivet visited and welcomed them to his Diocese. They arrived in Durban on Wednesday 4th December 1895.

Past Pupils

The Sisters were met on arrival and cordially welcomed by Rev. Father Murray, OMI and two Holy Family Sisters.  The latter took them to their own convent, received them most hospitably and wanted them to stay overnight.  The Sisters however were keen to see their own home.  Beds were previously provided by Fr. Murray, and the Holy Family Sisters supplied sheets and blankets.  All had a comfortable, restful night.

First House

This, their first Nazareth House consisted of a few adjoining cottages situated in Walls Ave which was a very poor area in our beautiful city of Durban.  These cottages were most unsuitable and as it was evident to the Sisters from the start that they could not remain there for long, they put their trust in the Sacred Heart and looked around for better accommodation.  They found a building they could rent nearer the city in what is now the corner of Grey Street and St. Andrew Street.  The Sisters moved in immediately.  They had the option of buying the building.

The Children

Nazareth House provides a full staff team, available 24 hours, to offer help and support to our Residents, whenever it is needed. Our primary concern is the well-being, security and comfort of each individual.  Our care for Residents is based on respect so that all their needs, physical, emotional and mental, are cared for with the dignity and concern that is their due.  Spiritual and emotional support is also provided.

The House cares for 53 Residents, 10 of whom are subsidised by the Government as they are completely frail and have a low income.  Altogether, 35 are frail, 14 semi-frail and 4 not frail. This indicates our reliance upon the local community for funding in the form of donations, fundraising and bequests.


The Residents enjoy various social activities:  they are invited out to tea-parties, musical concerts and events in the House, such as a Bingo evening, a Carol Singalong,  both with refreshments included and a weekly singsong of Old Tyme music and dancing in the Atrium. They are also entertained on Spring Day and Mothers’ Day by the local Primary school children who sing for them and bring them flowers and sweets.

Some of the more active Residents are involved in reconditioning Christmas Cards and knitting dolls’ and baby wear etc. -  all of which bring in a substantial amount of income for the House.  One of the Sisters runs a tuck shop with the help of the residents and there is also a jumble room which generates income when we have a jumble sale for the Staff and others.


The Nursing Sisters are involved in a programme where home-based carers in the local community are trained in the care of persons who are housebound.  Through this training, we are extending our impact within the communities while assisting with the needs of local residents.

Past Pupils

We continue to support the Outreach programme in Kwa Mashu by providing nursing care for people, including elderly and house-bound patients, living with the effects of HIV and Aids. Depending on the quantity of goods donated, the workers are able to have jumble sales, with the money collected being used to provide food parcels to the needy.  Regular contact is made between the Parish Nurse and the House Matron, Sister Pat Woodroffe, with adhoc visits being made by the Matron to the Programme office.  Statistics are also sent from the programme to the Matron in order to keep the House apprised of work being undertaken.

Another branch of our Outreach work is helping the hundreds of refugees, by supporting the work of our Chaplain, Father Stan Augustijns.  We do this by donating 200 kg’s of Mielies and 200 kg’s of  Samp every month, and giving tinned food and clothing if we have an abundance from donors.