What is the most common name for a Catholic school in NSW?
St Patrick’s? St Mary’s? Sacred Heart, perhaps?
By far and away, the most widespread Catholic school name in NSW is St Joseph’s.
There are 77 NSW Catholic schools bearing the name of Jesus’ earthly father or a variation thereof (eg, St Joseph the Worker or St Mary–St Joseph, in Maroubra).
That’s one in every eight NSW Catholic schools and more than St Mary’s (36) and St Patrick’s (30) combined.
What does this tell us about Catholic education?
The vast majority of St Joseph’s schools – 58 – are small primary schools established in country towns like Blayney, Wauchope, Lockhart, and Peak Hill.
St Mary Mackillop opened her first St Joseph’s school with Fr Julian Tenison Woods in 1866 in a stable at Penola in South Australia (now the site of the Stable School Park).
On 16 July 1872, a community of her Religious Sisters of St Joseph (RSJ) extended her mission to provide Catholic education for poor and isolated children by opening the first NSW Josephite school in a church at The Vale (later renamed Perthville), a village near Bathurst.
These founding Sisters displayed a spirit of courageous generosity, fidelity and strength, lived out in hardship and in the face of uncertainty and loneliness. Their legacy stretched down the years into future generations of Sisters of Saint Joseph who opened dozens more schools across rural NSW and Australia.
Also highly revered in our school system is Mary the Mother of God, who is honoured by 79 Catholic schools as either St Mary, “Our Lady… ” or through the title of the Marist orders.
The ministry of early Irish Brothers in Australia is also reflected in the NSW schools named in honour of Ireland’s St Patrick, including two Sydney colleges that maintain the Patrician Brothers name.
More recently, Catholic school names have reflected the growth of newly arrived Orders such as the Maronites (St Maroun’s, St Charbel’s College, Maronite College of the Holy Family).
It is important that Catholic education leaders and staff today understand and safeguard the selfless pioneering work of the early religious brothers and sisters as we engage with governments, political parties and their electors ahead of the state election.
Source: Catholic Schools NSW