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St Mary's College

In 1876, a party of six Sisters of Mercy, under the leadership of Mother Aloysius Martyn (1835-1899) arrived in Bendigo to open a select school and take charge of the already large parish primary school, St Kilian's. The Sisters came direct to Bendigo from Swinford in Ireland and endured a terrifying voyage by sea to arrive in Bendigo in the height of summer.

The school was opened as St Aloysius Select School in Barkly Terrace, but the need for quality education on the goldfields was so great that they quickly outgrew this school. Boarders were accepted from 1877. By 1897, with money raised by the Catholics of Bendigo, St Mary's College was opened, which by then included the convent, a new 3-storey wing, the Hall with polished granite pillars and rooms above as well as the Chapel.

Another 3-storey section was added in 1904 and sewage installed in 1925. The cream brick building on the corner of Barkly and View Streets was built in 1954 with science rooms added to it in 1967. In 1956 the Abbott home was acquired and renamed St Catherine's. It was used largely as music rooms. Sir George Lansell's property 'Denderah' was purchased after his death in 1959 and renamed 'Coolock House' after the home of Catherine McAuley in Ireland. This welcome addition included not only beautiful gardens but also a swimming pool! In 1973 the primary school was phased out and boarders were phased out by 1977. Properties were gradually purchased in Barkly Street with a 2-storey building to accommodate Years 7 and 8 opened in 1976.

In 1983 St Mary's College and Marist Brothers' College amalgamated to form Catholic College Bendigo. The school at Barkly Street eventually became the senior school for years 10 to 12 and since 2001 has been known as 'Coolock'.
The St Mary’s Past Pupils Association held its inaugural meeting in July 1948. Over the years the Committee raised significant money for the College including financing students to attend the Mercy Training College, the purchase of curtains for the Hall stage and contributing to the building fund. Many reunions of for the ‘Belles of St Mary’s’ were held over the years and some groups continue to meet on a regular basis.

Today, the College continues to develop relationships with past students. Any past student of Marist Brothers', St Mary's, St Vincent's or Catholic College Bendigo is encouraged to contact the Alumni Office or register their details for future events.

Arts Building Opening 2006

In April 2006, more than 140 past students of St Mary's College, many of them boarders, were welcomed back to witness the opening of the newly refurbished Arts Floor which was the former home of the boarders. The ceremony took place in the presence of Bishop Joe Grech, Senator Michael Ronaldson, Sisters of Mercy, past principals and guests associated with the building process. A highlight of the ceremony was a performance by the Coolock Choir, led by Mrs Catherine Moore, followed by an inspection of the Art Rooms.
The day also included a Blessing ceremony of the newly renovated Mercy Chapel as well afternoon tea in the hall and a display of memorabilia. Later that night a Reunion Dinner was held for past students of St Mary's College.
In 2012, in response to the growing need for Catholic secondary education in the Bendigo area, the Marist Brothers began plans to build a new P-12 College at Maiden Gully. The College will begin accepting students for the 2015 school year. From January 2013, Catholic College Bendigo began a new chapter as a fully Mercy school.

 

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