Kathleen Burrow Research Institute
The Kathleen Burrow Research Institute is a research unit within Catholic Schools NSW (Catholic Schools New South Wales) that conducts and publishes research on contemporary issues in school education to promote the advancement of education in all school sectors in Australia.
It aims to produce research that is intellectually rigorous, politically non-partisan and informed by the Catholic faith. As part of this mission, its research will promote and highlight the benefits of, and seek to dispel misconceptions about, Catholic education and related issues by going behind the headlines and beyond commonly-held views.
The work of the Institute will provide an evidence base to support Catholic Schools New South Wales in advocating for best practice in all schools, and particularly in Catholic education, and to inform and engage with sector leaders and policy-makers.
About Kathleen Burrow
Kathleen Burrow (1899-1987) had a strong presence in the history of Catholic education and the Catholic Church in the 20th century.
She came from humble beginnings, growing up in a simple cottage with a dirt floor in Mudgee, and was educated at St Matthew’s Convent of Mercy School, Mudgee. She attended the University of Sydney, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts, and was a founding member of the University Catholic Women’s Association.
She began her work in education as a teacher in a Sydney school. It was there she developed a focus on physical education in schools. She identified a particular need for this at orphanages and disadvantaged schools in Sydney.
Subsequently, she founded the Graham-Burrow School of Physical Education which provided exercise, deportment and dancing classes in Catholic schools throughout Australia for forty years. Shen then moved to leadership in public life, becoming President of the Legion of Catholic Women, Archdiocese of Sydney (1949-59), and of the Australian Council of Catholic Women (1957-59). She was the Australian representative (1957-65) on the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organisations.
She was appointed Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 1956, awarded the Papal Cross Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice in 1977 and the United Nations peace medal in 1976 and 1986.
Kathleen Burrow embodies much of what it means to be a Catholic educator. She cared deeply for her Catholic faith. She was a caring mentor, a highly principled and forthright advocate, and a superb communicator and organiser who `promoted social harmony often among divergent groups’.
She was, as described by one of her three children, “a formidable lady with a formidable intellect” and a very commanding presence. In her work, she was determined and unrelenting, though toward her children, she was supportive and encouraging with their aspirations, helping them to pursue their own goals and passions, and instilling in them her own intense work ethic and passion for worthwhile causes.
Throughout her life, she demonstrated incredible strength and resilience. Despite her own challenges, which included severe rheumatoid arthritis later in life, she continued to give what she could to Catholic missions with her time, efforts and money. This generosity was facilitated by an admirable simplicity of life.
Kathleen Burrow’s dedication to her Catholic faith, her family, her work, to education, and the underprivileged, makes her an outstanding example and an exceptional patron for the Kathleen Burrow Research Institute.