A Footscray icon celebrates a century

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1 December 2022

It’s been a rolling series of celebrations at St John’s School, Footscray, as the school marks 100 years serving the Catholic communities in Melbourne’s inner west.

Events throughout the year have included a reunion of past students, a special role at the Mass of St Patrick for Schools and the unveiling of a mural celebrating the journey of the school from 1922 to today. At the centenary twilight event earlier in the year, the whole school community gathered to engage in a range of activities, including a smoking ceremony with Uncle Bill, a petting zoo and footy clinics with Western Bulldogs staff. ‘It was really good and fun because there were farm animals and they were so cute’, said one of the students.

‘I am truly blessed to begin my journey as a principal in a school which has such a long and rich history’, said Principal Emily Conroy. ‘We are not the biggest school and we’re certainly not the newest school in Melbourne, but over the last century we’re a school that’s been able to adapt and change to cater to the needs of the Catholic families of Footscray.’

St John’s School was originally established as a church-school, built through the voluntary labour of parishioners. The original four classrooms were separated from the church by folding doors; consequently, the task of packing up the school each Friday for Mass on Sunday was undertaken by the school community and parishioners for many years.

The predominance of Australian and Irish parishioners in the early years of the parish changed during the 1950s with a growing Italian community. St John’s School currently boasts a community of over 20 different nationalities. The multicultural diversity of the school gives witness to the ability of different people to live and work together in harmony, and to celebrate and share the richness of their cultures generously and joyfully with each other.

Highlights from each of the events throughout 2022, as well as a video message from Archbishop Peter A Comensoli, are available on the school’s 100 Years of St John’s website.