History of St Pat's

1975 class: The Sisters of Charity had laid the foundation of St Patrick’s School, which originated from the school first established by John Mangan.

1975 class: The Sisters of Charity had laid the foundation of St Patrick’s School, which originated from the school first established by John Mangan.

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.

Sister Margaret and the 1980 class: This wasn't the school uniform but their first communion, a significant celebration.

Sister Margaret and the 1980 class: This wasn't the school uniform but their first communion, a significant celebration.

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.

This building was known as the Parish Hall. It was used as a classroom on a number of occasions when there were not enough rooms in the main school buildings. It was removed in 2017.

In 1872 Mr O’Ryan became the teacher with 72 pupils enrolled while in 1875 William Donnelly took over in September, 1875. The Parish Priest, Fr P Healy certified the school on April 26, 1880 - the Catholic Denominational School was the only Catholic School in the district, which was Catholic Church property.

Nazaretto School

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. 

Nazaretto Convent

The Nazaretto Convent was established as a boarding school for girls in the senior classes. 

The building with large living areas, internal joinery, fireplaces and high ceilings gave it unique appeal. (Eventually it was sold as a private residence in 2003). 

The classroom next to the Convent was used for the co-educational school in the primary years.

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.

Mary MacKillop with Father 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.

In 1965 new classrooms and a science laboratory in 1967 were built. In 1992 two new classrooms were added and in 1996 was the opening and blessing of the Michael Rheinberger Library.

The secondary school closed in 1975 with no more boarders taken. The music centre also remained until 1975.

The first lay principal was Sean Gordon in 2001. The school has had two other principals - Gerard McGilvray and Gerard Hergenhan with the current principal of Jo Scott-Pegum.

In 2011 the school went through a building refurbishment of the library, now a modern learning centre with computers. Also a new school hall was funded by the Federal Government.

Much has changed - now nine classes, from kindergarten to year 6 with full and part-time staff of 30, 140 families and 203 children.

St Patrick’s is a vibrant part of the parish community, blessed with parish priests.

"As a Catholic school we are part of a proud tradition of education in Australia," a St Patrick's school spokesperson said.

"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."

This story St Pats: Long history of the school first appeared on Bega District News.