The History of St Rita's College Our College

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.

Stanley Hall, a one-storey residence at Clayfield, had been built on the traditional lands of the Turrbal and Jagera peoples by John Forth in 1885. The residence was home to Herbert Hunter from 1888 to 1910 during which time the second story and tower were built in 1890. From 1911 to 1926 the property was owned by Edward Blume and his family.

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.

Stanley Hall has served as the living and praying quarters for the Sisters, as a dormitory for the boarders and a classroom for the students. In 2009, the year of the 225th anniversary of Nano Nagle’s death, the Presentation Sisters moved from Stanley Hall and the heritage-listed building was converted into a senior administration area.

At the initiative of current Principal, Mrs Dale Morrow, timber from the living quarters of the Sisters and boarders was retained and remodelled into furniture for the staff lounge area. This meaningful preservation extends the heritage of the Presentation Sisters and the foundations of St Rita’s College for many years to come.

St Rita’s today educates 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.