Welcome to the website of the Catholic Education Office and to the schools in the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn. Extending from Eden on the south coast, to Crookwell in the North, through to the western point of Lake Cargelligo, the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn covers both the ACT and NSW, a total of 88 000 square kilometres.
The story of the Archdiocese is largely one of Irish settlement. It began in 1813 when, explorers having crossed the Blue Mountains, villages, churches and pubs began to be established throughout the region. Fifteen years later, in 1828, there were only 1141 residents in the district: 80% were convicts, 36% were Catholic and only 1/3 were female.
Things began to change in 1844, when Caroline Chisholm brought young Irish women ‘up country' for employment. Churches and Schools began to grow. Bishop John Bede Polding exercised his influence for more than 40 years as schools were built and churches were consecrated at Yass, Goulburn and Queanbeyan.
The Yass school that commenced in 1847 is long gone, but 160 years later Mt Carmel Central School offers Catholic education to students in the Yass district. The Yass Presbytery, built in 1849 is also still standing and occupied today.
The first Bishop of the Goulburn Diocese Bishop Patrick Geoghegan was appointed on March 10, 1864. Unfortunately, he died almost two months later on May 9,1864 before ever setting eyes on Goulburn or taking up his seat. In April 1867 Bishop Lanigan was finally appointed.
While surrounding areas had been developing rapidly, Canberra’s growth was measured. Catholic education in Canberra didn’t begin until 1927 when Archbishop Kelly and Archbishop Mannix laid the foundation stone for St Christopher’s School and Convent. These premises in Manuka are now occupied by the Catholic Education Office. The Good Samaritan sisters started St Christopher’s school but it was not until 1948 that the seat of the Bishop was moved from Goulburn to Canberra and the Archdiocese was proclaimed.
The work of the congregations has been extremely important in the Archdiocese. The first religious were the Sisters of Mercy, who from 1859 onwards took responsibility for schools in southern New South Wales and Victoria. The schools in the Archdiocese with a Mercy heritage are in Goulburn, Boorowa, Cootamundra, Tumut, Murrumburrah, Grenfell, West Wyalong and Waramanga. The sisters also had schools in Gunning, Galong, Bethungra, Stockinbingal, Murringo, Binda, Braddon and Captains Flat.
Between 1882 and 1972, the Sisters of St Joseph’s opened 27 convents in the Diocese of Canberra/Goulburn and Wagga Wagga. There are still 7 schools named after St Joseph and one named for Mary MacKillop.
There are 56 system schools in the Archdiocese: 4 secondary colleges, 5 central schools and 19 primary schools in NSW: 4 secondary schools, 24 primary schools and 2 Early Learning Centres in the ACT. Additionally, there are 3 Congregational schools located in the ACT.
Our school system educates 20,590 boys and girls. We have 1308 teachers and a Catholic Education Office of 80 staff members who support these schools.
We have much to be proud of and much to be grateful for in our wonderful and historic Archdiocese. I invite you to visit our schools and to acquaint yourselves with all that the educational arm of the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn has to offer.