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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 in 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.
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