Our School - History - St Philomena's School
St Philomena’s School, the second oldest school in Moree, was founded in 1898 when Sisters of Mercy came from their Mother House in Gunnedah to establish a convent and a school.
Mother Aloysius and five sisters arrived in Moree on April 18, 1898. Father McGuiness and the Church Committee built a schoolroom on the southern side of St Henry’s (the weatherboard church built in 1884). When the new brick church of St John and St Henry was opened in 1930, the old church building was converted to school use.
Until 1912 the main objective of the nuns was to concentrate on primary education. Then when a new program of secondary education was introduced by the Department of Education, children were prepared for the Intermediate Certificate Examination. Music, Commercial Studies, Art of Speech and Needlework were included in the curriculum.
In 1967 the secondary department was closed as a result of staffing difficulties and the requirements of the new Wyndham Scheme.
Until 1999, St Philomena’s continued to focus on the primary department. With the additional space created from the closure of the secondary section, the school in East Moree was closed and all the students were housed in West Moree. For a time the East Moree school building was used by the Technical College.
In 1965 a new primary block costing $180,000 had been opened and blessed by Bishop Doody. It contained eight classrooms, offices, storerooms, toilet blocks and a large assembly area underneath.
It was in 1970 that St Xavier’s School, East Moree, was closed and all Catholic children were accommodated at St Philomena’s. On the night of 24th February, 1972, a fire destroyed an old building (formerly the Presbytery) that had been used for classes. The fire spread to the roof of the primary building, the total damage being estimated at $48,000.
The sisters had to bring back part of the old boarders’ section of the convent built in 1902. The situation was speedily restored with the repair of the damaged building and the purchase from the Department of Education of a classroom block from the Wiradjari School at the end of 1971.
A new three storey building was erected in 1979 and another cluster building was built in 1981.
The Christian Brothers took over the management of the school in 1987 when Br Cyril Bosco became principal. Direct affiliation with the school by the Sisters of Mercy ended when Sr Judy Breen left the school in 1993. Sr Judy had been a long term member of staff, REC and former principal. When Br Cyril Bosco left in 1994, the first lay principal was appointed to the school, Mr Kevin Humphries.
During his principalship from 1995-2001, Kevin Humphries was responsible for the further expansion of the school and for reopening the secondary department. Existing classrooms were refurbished and a secondary lavatory facility was the only construction.
The first female lay principal, Bernadette de Dassel, replaced Kevin after serving as Assistant Principal for five years. Bernadette saw the first Year 10 graduation since 1966 and endeavoured to continue the charism of the Sisters of Mercy within the school. Following a successful Educational Audit in 2003, Ms de Dassel, staff and parents committed to the development of the school’s first Strategic Plan, enabling the school to move further forward together into the new millennium.