Side by side: Celebrating St Mary’s College St Kilda East

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3 March 2021

Photos courtesy of St Mary’s College Melbourne, St Kilda East.This year marks a new beginning for Catholic education in the Archdiocese, with St Mary’s College Melbourne, St Kilda East, becoming the only Catholic coeducational secondary school in inner-city Melbourne. The school’s first Mass was celebrated by Archbishop Peter A Comensoli on Tuesday 2 March, and it was a fitting celebration and acknowledgment of the community’s pioneering history.

St Mary’s College is the combination of Christian Brothers College, St Kilda East (CBC) and Presentation College, Windsor (PCW). For 150 years, the two schools lived side by side in St Kilda East, operating separately but working together to provide a quality Catholic education for young men and women, often sharing classes, immersion experiences and collaborating on community events.

Both schools were the product of pioneering parish priest Rev. Dr James Corbett (the first Bishop of the Diocese of Sale) who, in 1873, invited the Presentation Sisters to come to Melbourne to provide a Catholic education to young people in the area. A convent and primary school were eventually built and, a few years later, Fr Corbett invited the Christian Brothers to take on the leadership of St Mary’s Boys School.

The decision to combine and create a coeducational offering was prompted by the announced closure of Presentation College in 2019. The reimagined school now operates across two sites: the Edmund Rice Campus (formerly CBC) and the Presentation Campus (formerly PCW). Years 7, 8 and 10 are predominantly based at the Edmund Rice Campus and Years 9, 11 and 12 over at the Presentation Campus.

Speaking at Tuesday’s Mass, founding principal of St Mary’s College Terry Blizzard paid tribute to the many women and men who came to Melbourne in the nineteenth century in response to Fr Corbett’s call ‘from the ends of the earth’.

‘We are inspired and challenged by Fr Corbett’s vision, and today we are excited to imagine what the next phase of this vision looks like as we become a Catholic coeducational school in the St Mary’s Parish’, said Mr Blizzard.

‘While the name of the school has changed, the commitment to our faith, values, strong communities and quality learning programs will remain priorities as young women and men share their educational journeys together.’

Mr Blizzard said the task ahead for St Mary’s College was to continue to invite all people into the story of Jesus of the gospels, striving to make the message of compassion, justice, inclusion and peace a living reality for generations to come.

This article was originally published in Melbourne Catholic on 2 March 2021. Photos courtesy of St Mary’s College Melbourne, St Kilda East.