TUXWORTH, Catherine Maria

Dame of St Sylvester Pope and Martyr

Catherine Tuxworth was born into a prominent Wollongong family closely associated with the St Francis Xavier Roman Catholic congregation.  Her involvement with the Legion of Mary led to Pope John Paul II creating her a Dame of the Order of St Sylvester.  She was the first woman in Australia to receive the honour.


Except for a short period working in Darwin, Catherine spent her entire life in Wollongong living in the family home at 101 Corrimal Street.  Until the mid-1970s the house was numbered 83.  She attended the St Francis Xavier parish school.  Later he attended St Mary’s Convent school.

In 1947 Catherine began training as a nurse at Wollongong Hospital. On 2 August 1951, she became a Registered Nurse.  Catherine worked at Wollongong Hospital for 41 years.  On her retirement, she she increased her involvement in parish activities especially the Legion of Mary.

The Legion was established in Dublin in 1921 and is an international association of members of the Roman Catholic Church who serve it on a voluntary basis. It is the largest apostolic organization of lay people in the Catholic Church.

The Order of St Sylvester Pope and Martyr is the fifth highest but lowest papal order.  It is intended to honour Roman Catholic lay people who are actively involved in the life of the church. It is also conferred on non-Catholics.  Membership was opened to females by Pope John Paul II.

Image; Catherine Tuxworth receiving the Order of St Sylvester from Bishop Murray, March 1995.

Catherine Tuxworth - 'Reluctant Dame' news article March 1995
Tuxworth home at 101 [83] Corrimal St Wollongong in November 2015 prior to demolition