History

History of St Patrick's Senior College             Image00001      

In 1863, Thomas Henry Fitzgerald, an Irish Catholic surveyor, was sent by the government of the newly-created colony of Queensland to survey a new port settlement that was to be established near the mouth of the Pioneer River, discovered by Captain John Mackay just three years before. 

Fitzgerald left the government service in 1865, settling in Mackay as a surveyor and land agent. He purchased 1200 acres to establish a sugar cane plantation and also bought land in town. Mackay was a small frontier settlement. Small vessels berthed on the muddy bank of the Pioneer River and a rough flood-prone track led towards Nebo and the Hinterland grazing areas. One writer of the time commented on the plague-like proportions of green frogs, while another described the town as beset by robbery and murder and bad behaviour. 

Fitzgerald invited the first priest to come here and provided for the first religious sisters, establishing two schools. His donation of land on the north side of River Street provided the site for the first church, convent and school, and is the reason why St Patrick's College is sited where it is today. The original school was St Joseph's, staffed by the Josephite Sisters who arrived in 1872. They were replaced by the Sisters of Mercy from 1880.

The convent school became known as St Patrick's from 1912. It was a boarding school and after the First World War, educated post-primary age girls in commercial subjects. The new St Patrick's Christian Brothers' College began in September 1929. The arrival of Maltese settlers had an immense effect on the history of the Mackay Region and its Catholic schools. A few settlers arrived before the First World War and this opened the way for a flood of settlers from the 1920's. Hard working, family-oriented, loyally Catholic and prepared to integrate into Australian society, they lay the foundation for Mackay to become a diverse, open, multi-cultural and tolerant community. Picture2

In 1929, the Christian Brothers opened a school for boys on the Gregory Street side. Sub-senior classes were introduced in 1962. The first Principal of Mackay Christian Brothers was Brother Tevlin (his father a Victorian Police Sergeant who had escorted Ned Kelly to the gallows in 1880).

In 1981, when the parish primary school ceased to function, the primary section of Christian Brothers’ College was moved to the River Street site. In June 1985, Bishop Bernard Wallace announced that the girls' secondary school, Our Lady of Mercy College, would become a junior co-educational college, Mercy College, and that the all boys' school, St. Patrick's Christian Brothers' College, would become a senior co-educational college, St Patrick’s College. Each new College commenced in 1987.Picture1

Although Queensland's only Senior College outside Brisbane, St Pat's soon developed a great reputation for its unique culture, its excellence in the academic, sporting and cultural fields and its commitment to the Christian faith. It is a worthy inheritor of the educational work of so many - Priests, Sisters of St Joseph, Christian Brothers and laity who have all worked with so many young people to build up God's Kingdom in this region and beyond.

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St Patrick's College from the Gregory Street, Mackay perspective