St Matthew's School Narrogin

St Matthew's School Narrogin

History

St Matthew’s School has been proudly serving the community of Narrogin for over ninety years.

Founded in 1918 by the Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions, the school was staffed solely by these Sisters, who lived in what is now the C.Y. O’Connor Tafe building. During the period of its existence the school has served the changing needs of the Narrogin and wider district.

At one time the school accepted students through to Year 10 and also catered for pupils within a boarding school known as St Philomena’s Convent. During World War Two students from the Sacred Heart schools in Perth, run by the Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions, were evacuated to St Matthew’s School in Narrogin because there was fear of a Japanese attack from the sea. For this period St Matthew’s School was also commonly known as Sacred Heart School.

After the war, the school accepted large numbers of Polish migrants who helped shape its character even further. Currently, our students come primarily from the local town and surrounding farming communities.

Today, St Matthew’s is staffed by dedicated lay teachers who endeavour to mirror the commitment of those pioneering sisters, and the Sisters of the Servite Order who joined us in 1998. The Servite Sisters support our teaching role and assist Father Caliba in pastoral outreach work in the Parish.

Narrogin's Catholic Story: A timeline
1882 – 1889
Visiting priests celebrate Mass in Narrogin.
1900
Fr James Phelan – Narrogin’s first resident priest. (site of present Library.)
1902
Request to Bishop Gibney to secure a lot to build church on.
1906
Permission granted.
1907
St Matthew’s Church opened and blessed by Bishop Gibney.
1908
Bishop Gibney proposed that a Convent school be established in Narrogin. (Postponed due to a shortage of Sisters and a financial crisis in Perth diocese.)
1911
A Parish is formed. (The priest was responsible for many surrounding towns.)
Our Lady of the Missions Sisters move from Menzies to Wagin.
1915
Bishop Clune invited OLM’s to establish the order in Narrogin.
1918
A Convent and school (called “the Convent School” – but ‘Sacred Heart Convent” in official records) is founded.
PRINCIPAL: SR THEODORA MCFALL
End of year enrolment – 80 chn
1919
End of year enrolment – 122 chn
1923
Brick classrooms erected.
A new presbytery is built and blessed by Archb. Clune. Extensions made to the church sanctuary and sacristy.
1927
New Convent is erected on present TAFE site. (Opened May 1930)
Enrolment ≈ 130 chn
1931
OLM Sisters run “Bushies” schools at the Convent in the August holidays for regional children. (until 1966)
1938
Stained-glass windows and a new altar are added to the church.
1940
Further church additions done – statues and side altars.
1940’s
The name St Philomena’s Convent” 1st applied to the school in official records.(Both names used into 50’s)
1942
Extra boarders arrive at the Convent from Fremantle – after fears of an invasion.
1943
Sanctuary floor raised and new altar rails put in.
1953
More school brick classrooms erected.
1958
Major Parish fundraising campaign began for new churches in Narrogin and Wickepin, new classrooms, reducing the school debt, maintaining the priests and meeting operating costs.
1960
More brick classrooms erected. (Enrolment of 275 chn)
1962
School name changes to “St Matthew’s Parish School (due to church calendar of saints being revised and St Philomena dropped due to insufficient documentary evidence.)
1963
Original church demolished.
1964
OLM Sisters ran Motor Missions – visiting State School to give instruction to Catholic children and advice to parents.
Opening of new church – consecrated by Bishop Goody.
1969
(Enrolment ≈ 140 chn)
1970
(Enrolment ≈ 120 chn)
1971
First school library set up in classroom
1972
Present presbytery blessed and opened by Bishop McKeon.
1973
Enrolment of 106 chn
1976
Convent building sold to Westrail – two remaining Sisters moved to 9 Falcon St.
1979
School – several major building progressions from here on – undercover area, library, canteen.
1980
PRINCIPAL: SR MARGARET MARY DOHERTY (1980 – 1982)
(Enrolment ≈ 110 chn)
1981
Sr Margaret Doherty (OLM) becomes the last full-time serving Sister in the school. (64 years of service in school.)
1982
PRINCIPAL: MR PATRICK SEATTER – FIRST LAY PRINCIPAL (1982 – 1988)
1986
A Pre-Primary facility is established.
1989
PRINCIPAL: MR MARTIN BARRETT (1989 – 1994)
1994
Parish Centre built, and blessed by Bishop Peter Quinn.
1995
PRINCIPAL: MR JOHN WALKER (1995 – 1999)
1998
The last two sisters (OLM) leave Narrogin – one of them is Sr Isabel McGee, a former pupil from the 1920’s.
Fr Michael Slattery invites the Servite Sisters to commence pastoral and other work in the parish. The order responded promptly – Srs Nirmala and Zita arrived in February and Sr Sahaya soon afterwards. Sr Rosa late came and Sr Idaya, who is still here. The Sisters established their Convent, first in Hough St, then later in Clayton Rd.
2000
PRINCIPAL: MRS COLLEEN MCGINLEY (2000 – 2007)
Jubilee Year for Universal Church
2008
PRINCIPAL: MR KEVIN DUFFY (2008 –     )
2009
Enrolment ≈ 180 chn.
2010   
Enrolment – 201 chn.
2011   
Opening of the Sr Isabel Hall and Sr Mary Library (BER Funded project)

The following sisters were Principals of St Matthew’s School throughout its history. They are listed in the order they served, but unfortunately the dates (years) associated with their principalships were not recorded – apart from the foundation Principal and the final Sister to serve as Principal. It is also acknowledged that some of the information presented in this timeline may be inaccurate. The reader is welcome to inform St Matthew’s School of any inaccuracies or significant additions that could be made.

  • Sr Theodora McFall
  • Sr Judith Ward
  • Sr Francis Paula Mansbridge
  • Sr Bride Connaughton
  • Sr Ildephonsus Garvey
  • Sr Ethnea Edwards
  • Sr Valerian Murphy
  • Sr Carmel Slattery
  • Sr Bernard Kerins
  • Sr Margaret Mary Doherty

The following sisters were Principals of St Matthew’s School throughout its history. They are listed in the order they served, but unfortunately the dates (years) associated with their principalships were not recorded – apart from the foundation Principal and the final Sister to serve as Principal. It is also acknowledged that some of the information presented in this timeline may be inaccurate. The reader is welcome to inform St Matthew’s School of any inaccuracies or significant additions that could be made.

  • Sr Theodora McFall
  • Sr Judith Ward
  • Sr Francis Paula Mansbridge
  • Sr Bride Connaughton
  • Sr Ildephonsus Garvey
  • Sr Ethnea Edwards
  • Sr Valerian Murphy
  • Sr Carmel Slattery
  • Sr Bernard Kerins
  • Sr Margaret Mary Doherty

The success the school enjoys is, in large part, due to the interest and involvement of you, the parents, in the many varied activities and experiences organised for the children.

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© St Matthews School 2017