150 Years of Catholic Education
St Patrick’s has a proud history and an excellent reputation for providing quality education in the Bega Valley. It was one of the first schools in the valley and was originally run by the Sisters of Charity prior to the Mary MacKillop’s Sisters of St Joseph. In 2019 we celebrate 150 years of Catholic education!
ROMAN CATHOLIC DENOMINATIONAL SCHOOL
In 1868, John Mangan established an evening school, which opened as a day school the following year. This became the 'Roman Catholic Denominational School' situated in the wooden Catholic Church (located next to the current church site on the Presbytery side). A schoolroom was built below the church in 1872.
In 1875, William Donnelly took up the position as teacher in the school and it remained as the main school building until the arrival of the Sisters of Charity in 1884. Today, this building is known as the Parish Hall. It has again been used as a classroom on a number of occasions when there were not enough rooms in the main buildings of the school.
In 1872 Mr. O’Ryan became the teacher with 72 pupils enrolled. In 1875 William Donnelly took over as teacher on 1st September, 1875. The Parish Priest, Fr. P Healy certified that on April 26th, 1880, the Catholic Denominational School was the only Catholic School in the district, which was Catholic Church property
In 1884, the Sisters of Charity came to Bega to establish their school on the St Patrick’s Church property. The first Sisters of Charity were Mother Xavier Cunningham, Sister Augustine Quinlan, Sister Teresa Doyle and Sister Martha Scanlon.
The school established by them became known as the “Nazaretto School”. The Convent, which was built for them by the Parish in 1891, was next to the school. The residence for the Sisters before this was in a small building also next to the school. (See picture ).
In 1886, the parish and school celebrated St Patrick’s Day with a Mass led by Dean Healy. At that Mass a banner of St. Patrick, the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus led the procession into the church. The Sisters of Charity had laid the foundation of St Patrick’s School, which originated from the school first established by John Mangan
THE NAZARETTO CONVENT
The Nazaretto Convent was established as a Boarding School for girls in the senior classes and the classroom next to the Convent was used for the co-educational school in the primary years. The Infants section was located at the original classroom used by John Mangan, situated below the Presbytery.
The school behind the Convent and the original building that the Sisters of Charity lived in were later torn down and the land became a part of the playground for the children at the school.
Mary MacKillop with Fr. Tenison Woods established the Sisters of St Joseph. The Sisters of St Joseph also had a strong presence in Bega. They replaced the Sisters of Charity in 1926 and remained in the school for the next 75 years. “There were between 150 to 160 pupils at the school at that time and catered for students through Primary to Intermediate.
The Secondary school closed in 1975. Later years saw the numbers grow to around 240 in the Primary School. Boarders were taken until 1975, and the music centre remained until 1975”. (Bega District News 2/11/2001).
As a Catholic school we are part of a proud tradition of education in Australia. We no longer have the Sisters of Charity or St Joseph working in our school, but our Religious Education remains strong with our staff continuing Catholic schooling in the Bega Valley.
The teachers not only have good university level teacher training but they also have formal training and qualifications in Religious Education as well. The staff also participate in a vibrant professional development program funded through the school budget and the Country Areas Program (CAP).