GoldenJubilee-HistoryBook - page 4-5

Mount St Benedict College Golden Jubilee
History Book
5
The Welcome
School
In a room freshly painted in colours which might be
described today as bilious, Mount St Benedict College
had its beginnings. The year was 1966.
A makeshift classroom converted out of a bakehouse in
the basement of a novitiate of Catholic sisters seems
an unlikely place to start a modern school but a modern
school it was, born out of the changing social conditions
of post-war Australia and pressed to rapidly develop in
response to constant growth.
Chronicling the tumble of events which made up that
first year, Deputy Principal Sr Hyacinth Roche wrote,
‘If only we could carry out all we think of, but at least
we can do something.’ In her neat and unwavering
handwriting, she was referring to the first eager
students of the College and their plans to help the
missions, but Sr Hyacinth may just as well have been
speaking about the larger, scrambling project in which
she and Principal Sr Christopher Burrows were engaged
– the herculean task of setting up the brand new school.
In Sr Hyacinth’s tone there is relish for the potential of
what might be achieved, and a keenness to get on.
There is a sense of togetherness, too. In this spirit
Mount St Benedict College was founded and developed.
A shared endeavour.
Today, Mount St Benedict College has over 1000
students but when it opened its doors only sixty-five
pupils were on the roll. As those girls and their parents
approached the Novitiate of the Sisters of the Good
Samaritan at Pennant Hills on that first February
morning, their feelings must have been mixed. The
Convent and Novitiate, now the Mount St Benedict
Centre, was and is an imposing brick building. As a
sanctuary of retreat and formation it was not a place to
which members of the public were routinely admitted.
When it opened in 1927, the Novitiate dominated the
landscape. Situated on elevated ground, fine views
of Sydney were obtainable from the upper balconies.
On every side were slopes and valleys, orchards and
farmlets, all ringed by the distant haze of the Blue
Mountains. Suburban homes soon sprung up around the
Novitiate but the semi-rural feel was not to disappear
until the 1950s when the population of the area surged,
in large part due to post-war immigration. Many of these
new Australians were Catholic families. The Sisters
of the Good Samaritan were quick to understand the
implications and energised by the challenge. ‘In some
respects,’ they said in 1957, ‘the large-scale immigration
of this recent decade... has been the most interesting
and vital phenomenon of our century of existence.’
Sr Mary (Hyacinth) Roche, 2014
We used to say, Christopher and myself,
‘And they said they didn’t need it.”
4
Mount St Benedict College Golden Jubilee
History Book
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