College History Our College

For more than ninety years, St Rita’s College has been enriched by the spirituality of the Catholic tradition.

Established by the Presentation Sisters in 1926, the College recognises two patrons: Nano Nagle, the founder of the Presentation Order, and St Rita of Cascia, the Saint of Impossible Causes, after whom the College is named.

Our Founder – Nano Nagle

Compassion   Hospitality   Simplicity

The founder of the Presentation Sisters, Nano Nagle, was born in 1718 of a longstanding Catholic family at Ballygriffin near Mallow in North Cork.

The Penal Laws of the eighteenth century limited Catholic worship and strictly forbade the education of Catholic children in school, at home or abroad, so the Nagle children were taught secretly by tutors, who were employed as ‘servants’ for their protection, and by itinerant scholars in hedge schools.

In 1730, Nano and her sister, Anne, were able to travel to the Continent to further their education. It is thought that Nano Nagle was educated at the Benedictine monastery in Ypres, Belgium after which she entered Parisian society. She returned to Ireland to live with their mother in 1745 after her Father’s death, ignorant of the poverty and degradation of her countrymen. Nano answered the call to God and turned away from her comfortable life. By 1769 she had established seven schools in the city of Cork – two for boys and five for girls. As well as religious education, the children were taught reading, writing, arithmetic and home management. She didn’t withdraw her support from the Ursulines, but she went about seeking other young women to work with her in the schools.

Read the full story here... The History of Nano Nagle

St Rita of Cascia

Courage   Justice   Hope

On 22 May each year the community of St Rita’s College celebrate the feast of our Patron Saint, Rita of Cascia.

Born in 1381 near Cascia, Italy, as a young girl Rita frequently visited the convent of the Augustinian Nuns in Cascia and dreamed of one day joining their community.

Her parents, however, according to the custom of the day, had promised her in marriage and at the age of twelve she was married to Paolo Mancini a man of strong and impetuous character. Rita resolved to see her parents’ decision for her marriage as God’s will for her.

As a young mother of twin sons, Rita was widowed by the age of twenty-four. Having to endure the grief of her husband being ambushed and killed at the hands of war faring political factions as he returned home from work one day, disaster struck her yet again as she witnessed the death of both of her children to disease.

She allowed God to fashion a new life for her, turning her thoughts to the desired vocation of her youth – that of joining the Augustinian nuns and in 1413 the Order gave her entry. Rita earned much admiration over the next forty years for her austerity, devotion to prayer and charity, striving especially to preserve peace and harmony among the warring citizens of Cascia, and alleviating the pain, anxieties and sorrow of those in need.

Various iconography is associated with St Rita – the ‘Gift of the Thorn’ and the ‘Legend of the Rose’ – among them. Rita was a woman of strength and faith – the role model of St Rita’s College, Clayfield.

Read the full story here... The History of St Rita of Cascia

St Rita’s College

The Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (pbvm) first came to Australia in 1866 and the first of the Order arrived in Longreach, Queensland, in 1900.

In 1926, Sr Alice Kennedy, pbvm and Sr Mary Madden, pbvm purchased Stanley Hall along with four acres of land surrounding the residence to establish St Rita’s College, not really knowing how they would manage to pay the asking price of £22,000, but discerning that the purchase was the correct action to take. St Rita’s officially opened on 27 September 1926, and on 4 August the following year, 1927, St Rita’s College was registered as a Secondary School (Boarding and Day). Initially boys and girls were enrolled from Kindergarten to Grade 3, and girls only from Grade 4 to Senior.

In deciding what name for the school to take, the Sisters revealed a snippet of dry Irish humour when they chose St Rita’s as the name, for St Rita of Cascia is the Patron Saint of impossible causes. The challenges experienced by the Presentation Sisters in those early years when they took on this large debt with little means of paying must have worried them as being an impossible cause. But, through God’s grace and the exceptional hard work of the Sisters over many years, and, no doubt, through the intercession of St Rita herself, our College has flourished. St Rita’s today educates over 1200 girls from Years 5—12 and continues the rich tradition of social justice instilled in the charism of Venerable Nano Nagle and the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Academic and vocational excellence is valued, and each girl is encouraged to make the most of their gifts and realise their full potential.

Read more about Stanley Hall here ... The History of St Rita's College