The History
Of MacKillop


Our Story So Far

MacKillop first opened its doors in 1998, but as the product of two amalgamated high schools, our history actually goes back to the 1970s.

Click through the different stages of our history below to learn more about the MacKillop story.

  • St Peter's

    Before MacKillop

    At the end of 1996, following a decision by the Catholic Education Commission, Padua High School and St Peter’s Catholic College began an amalgamation process to form MacKillop Catholic College. The school was to open in 1998 under the guidance and leadership of Sr Noelene Quinane, who was chosen as Foundation Principal.

    While MacKillop officially opened in 1998, its story goes back to 1978, when Padua High School opened to provide a Catholic secondary school option in the Valley. Padua was located in the suburb of Wanniassa and catered to students in Years 7-10.

    In 1989, St Peter’s Catholic College opened a few kilometres from Padua in the suburb of Isabella Plains. St Peter’s offered places to students in Years 7-12.

  • Opening Mass

    MacKillop Begins: The Amalgamation

    The two schools enjoyed a healthy rivalry until the amalgamation in 1998, with Padua becoming the Wanniassa Campus and St Peter’s becoming the Isabella Campus.

    In its inaugural year, the school took out the ACT Rock Eisteddfod, celebrated a number of community events like the Opening Mass and the Mary MacKillop Feast Day, and established a strong focus on social justice. These events formed a solid platform for the new school.

    In 1998, the Isabella Campus hosted students in Years 8-12 and the Wanniassa Campus hosted Years 7, 9, and 10.

    Over the period of a number of years, Years 7-9 became based at Wanniassa and Years 10-12 at Isabella. Thus, the idea of the ‘junior’ and ‘senior’ campuses was formed.

  • Principals

    Our Principals

    At the end of 2003, with the College coming to the end of its sixth year, Sr Noelene made the announcement that she would be moving on from MacKillop. In 2004, Mrs Moira Najdecki took over as Principal.

    Mrs Najdecki led the school until the end of 2006 when she became the Director of the Catholic Education Office, and Ms Rita Daniels took over in 2007 in a caretaker role. Mr Michael Lee began his tenure in 2008 and is now MacKillop’s longest-serving Principal.

  • Canonisation

    Canonisation: The Name Change

    At the end of 2009, it was announced that Mary MacKillop was to become Australia’s first saint in October 2010. Under the authority of the Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn, MacKillop Catholic College changed its name to St Mary MacKillop College at the start of the 2010 school year.

    Mr Lee, Deputy Principal Curriculum Michelle Marks, and College leaders Oliver Oakman, Danica Tagaza, Andre Wilks, and Isabelle Schmidt travelled to the Vatican in October 2010 to witness the canonisation of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop.

    High interest in the school led MacKillop to become the largest secondary school in the ACT, and, in keeping with the College Vision, it has maintained a proud tradition of excellent academic results, a welcoming and safe environment, and operates as a Catholic school for all – not just a school for Catholics.

  • Governor General

    20 Years and Beyond

    At the start of 2018, the College celebrated its 20th anniversary under the banner of MacKillop. To honour the school's history prior to the amalgamation, the College Leadership renamed the Wanniassa Campus to "Padua" and the Isabella Campus to "St Peter's". The 20-year celebrations coincided with the opening of two new buildings at the St Peter's Campus - the Julian Tenison Woods Laboratories and the Providence building. These buildings were opened by Archbishop Christopher Prowse, with many members of the Sisters of St Joseph (including Foundation Principal Sr Noelene Quinane) in attendance.

    At the end of 2022/beginning of 2023, the College will celebrate its 25-year anniversary.

Images of Our History

  • 1998 Graduation
    Inaugural College Captain, Jon Lovell
  • Opening Mass, 1998
    Opening Mass, 1998
  • Painting of Wanniassa
    Painting of Wanniassa by Barbara Hodgson
  • Our first Year 12 cohort
    Our first Year 12 cohort
  • Easter Liturgy, 1999
    Easter Liturgy, 1999
  • Social Justice Program, Philippines, 2001
    Social Justice Program, Philippines, 2001
  • Five-year celebrations
    Five-year celebrations
  • Isabella Campus, 2003
    Isabella Campus, 2003
  • Wanniassa Campus, 2003
    Wanniassa Campus, 2003
  • Graduation Mass, 2005
    Graduation Mass, 2005
  • Spring Zing, 2006
    Spring Zing, 2006
  • Journey of the Cross and Icon, 2008
    Journey of the Cross and Icon, 2008
  • Mrs Philpot celebrates 30 years of service
    Mrs Philpot celebrates 30 years of service
  • Zambian Olympian, Zane Jordan
    Zambian Olympian, Zane Jordan
  • Canonisation celebrations at MacKillop, 2010
    Canonisation celebrations at MacKillop, 2010
  • The renaming of our College, 2010
    The renaming of our College, 2010
  • Mr Lee is an Australian Principal of the Year finalist, 2011
    Mr Lee is an Australian Principal of the Year finalist, 2011
  • MacKillop makes national news as Adam Refki becomes first Muslim College Captain
    MacKillop makes national news as Adam Refki becomes first Muslim College Captain
  • CAT Award-winning musical, Seussical Jr, 2012
    CAT Award-winning musical, Seussical Jr, 2012
  • Opening of the Trades Training Centre, 2012
    Opening of the Trades Training Centre, 2012
  • MacKillop receives the Children's Week Award, 2012
    MacKillop receives the Children's Week Award, 2012
  • Our award-winning Chapel, 2013
    Our award-winning Chapel, 2013
  • Ngadyung wins all four sports trophies, 2013
    Ngadyung wins all four sports trophies, 2013
  • Partnership with St Pat's commences, 2014
    Partnership with St Pat's commences, 2014
  • Students celebrate MacKillop Day, 2015
    Students celebrate MacKillop Day, 2015
  • National A Cappella Finalists, 2016
    National A Cappella Finalists, 2016
  • Ben Jenkins wins the Order of Australia Student Prize, 2016
    Ben Jenkins wins the Order of Australia Student Prize, 2016
  • Students raise over $20k for Caritas, 2017
    Students raise over $20k for Caritas, 2017
  • Opening of the Providence Building, 2018
    Opening of buildings and 20 year celebrations, 2018
  • Turning 20
    Turning 20
  • Year 12 raise over $58k for Relay for Life
    Year 12 raise over $58k for Relay for Life

Some of our key moments

1996

Amalgamation Announcement

It was announced that St Peter’s and Padua would join to form MacKillop Catholic College. After being appointed as MacKillop’s foundation Principal, Sr Noelene Quinane started planning for the amalgamation.

1998

Becoming MacKillop

The doors to MacKillop Catholic College officially opened in February 1998. There was a strong focus on community and social justice as the College sought to create a new, unified identity. Success in the ACT Rock Eisteddfod helped MacKillop get off to a good start.

2004

New Leadership

Sr Noelene’s leadership came to an end after six years, with Mrs Moira Najdecki taking over as College Principal. Mrs Najdecki led until 2006, when she became the Director of Catholic Education Canberra and Goulburn.

2008

Mr Lee's tenure begins

After a year with Ms Rita Daniels at the helm in a caretaker role, Mr Michael Lee was appointed Principal of MacKillop from the start of 2008. He is now MacKillop’s longest-serving Principal.

2010

A name change

With the announcement that Mary MacKillop would become Australia’s first saint in 2010, the College received permission from the Archbishop to change its name from MacKillop Catholic College to St Mary MacKillop College in honour of the momentous occasion.

1998-2022

25 years of Achievement

MacKillop has gone from strength to strength over its first 25 years, with a wide range of academic, sporting, cultural, performance, collective, and individual achievements.

Our Story

Acknowledgement of Country

St Mary of the Cross MacKillop made the statement: “We are but travellers here, so while we are here we should do as much good as we can and live in peace with each other.”

With this is mind, the College respectfully acknowledges the Ngunnawal people who are the Traditional Custodians and First People of the land on which we gather each day. The College also pays its respects to the Elders past, present and emerging, and any other Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander peoples living and working in the MacKillop community.

MacKillop crest

© 2022 St Mary MacKillop College, Canberra. All rights reserved.

ABN 80 979 302 259

Contact Us


Phone: 02 6209 0100
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PO Box 1211
Tuggeranong ACT 2901