Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

Early Days; St Mary's and St Joseph's Marist Brothers'

Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

Early Days; St Mary's and St Joseph's Marist Brothers'

Article excerpt

N August 15, 1886, The Presentation Sisters, led by Mother Stanislaus D'Arcy, celebrated the opening of the first Catholic school in the Lismore Diocese, St Mary's College.

It had been a long road so far, with the sisters travelling all the way from Ireland to establish the school.

The original convent and college was built with accommodation for 12 sisters and 20 boarders.

From the very beginning the school established strong academic credentials. Mother Stanislaus was a firm believer in cultural pursuits and the arts, and the students thrived under the sisters' guidance.

The first four students successfully presented for the Junior University Examination just one year later in 1887.

Under Mother Stanislaus' leadership the college flourished.

In 1895 the swimming baths were opened in the area fronting Dawson Street. It was a daring idea, and shows just how innovative Mother Stanislaus and her sisters were. The Northern Star of the day reported on the grand opening where the baths were ceremoniously filled.

Conditions couldn't have been easy then, especially given the Northern River's temperamental weather, but new building works were undertaken at this time, and on November 5, 1898, The Northern Star reported on the opening of the new college, which was celebrated with a garden festival held over two evenings in the college grounds and the bishop's garden.

The Lismore Town Band entertained the crowd of 1000, and the sisters proudly gave tours of the college and convent.

But the community's joy at the opening of the buildings was to be short lived: on January 2, 1905, a devastating fire took just 35 minutes to burn the college, cathedral and convent to the ground, despite a crowd of 500 people fighting valiantly to save them.

We can only imagine the heartbreak and disappointment the sisters, pupils and community at large felt over this shocking loss. But they immediately picked themselves up and began to rebuild. After two year's work, St Mary's Convent and College was opened on its current site on March 17, 1907. The cathedral was opened in August that same year.

The arrival of Marist Brothers

In 1911, while St Mary's College was thriving and continuing to grow, a significant event occurred that would change the future of the college. …

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