College History

Small College - Where We Make HISTORY

Take your time and browse through our history at St Joseph's College, from the beginning of the Collge's existance through to today. We have information on the driving force behind the formation of the College through to the history of the College Pastoral Houses.

The Beginning

1955: Early in the year Mr Vince Crowley called a meeting to investigate the possibility of establishing a Catholic Boys school on the eastern side of Toowoomba to eliminate the need for the boys on the eastern side of town to ride their bikes, sometimes dangerously, to St Mary’s College. There was sufficient interest to make the decision to go ahead. In July plans were drawn up for the site bounded by Mackenzie, James and Curzon Streets. During the year Bishop Brennan, the Bishop of the Toowoomba Diocese, approached the Christian Brothers to establish a Community at St Joseph’s. In October a Community of three Brothers was appointed. The Foundation Stone for the new College was laid on 15 December.

1956: 116 boys were enrolled for the first day of the new College. The new students had to commence the school year in buildings located behind St Patrick’s Cathedral because the buildings at the current site for the College were not ready. The College, on its current site, was officially opened by Archbishop Duhig of Brisbane and Bishop Brennan of Toowoomba in a ceremony on 2 September 1956. The College was to be for boys for Grades IV to Senior (Years 4-12).

The Changing of the Guard

On 22 June 1982 it was announced that the Christian Brothers would be withdrawing from the College at the end of 1983. In 1982 the College catered for 314 boys from Years 4 -10. (Those wanting to continue their schooling had to go elsewhere, generally St Mary’s College, for Years 11 & 12.)

In 1982 it was also decided that other changes would occur from 1983. The College would be extended to include the Senior years, Years 11 & 12, and the Primary section would gradually be phased out. The College would also become co-educational.

1983 saw the first of the girls enrolled in Year 8. 1985 saw the last of the Primary classes.

History of the Pastoral Care Houses

Bishop William Brennan DD (1904-1975) was the Bishop of the Toowoomba Diocese when the decision was made to establish the new College under the patronage of St Joseph’s. Bishop Brennan was born in Sydney on 4 November 1904. He was educated in schools run by the Sisters of St Joseph and the Christian Brothers. He entered St Columba’s Seminary at Springwood in 1921, continued his studies at St Patrick’s, Manly and completed his studies in Rome. He was ordained in Rome on 17 December 1927. He served in many NSW parishes and was consecrated as a Bishop on 21 October 1953. He became the third Bishop of Toowoomba on 8 November 1953. During his 22 years as Bishop of Toowoomba he established six new parishes, nineteen new churches were opened, 53 new priests were ordained and five new schools were opened in the diocese. One of these schools was St Joseph’s College, opened in 1956 to serve the eastern and southern Toowoomba. His motto was “In Omnibus Caritate” (Charity in all). Bishop Brennan was called to God on 11 September 1975

Catherine McAuley (1778-1841) was the founder of the Sisters of Mercy. Catherine was born on September 29 1778 in Dublin, Ireland. Catherine’s father died when she was she was five and her mother died when she was twenty. She, along with her brother and sister, went to live with her relatives, the Armstrongs who were not Catholic. In 1803 she went as a companion to live with Mr and Mrs Callaghan, a wealthy friend of the Armstrongs. While the Callaghans liked Catherine and supported her works, they did not approve of her Catholicity. She looked after the Callaghans until their deaths. Mr Callaghan made Catherine his sole legatee. With the money left to her, Catherine was able to put into effect a plan to educate young girls and a variety of social services for poor women and children. She leased a building at Baggot St, Dublin, and proceeded to turn it into a school. It was opened on 24 September, 1827 as the House of Mercy. (This was the feast of Our Lady of Mercy. Catherine then placed all her work under the patronage of Our Lady of Mercy.) A group of twelve women worked with Catherine in the early years. They all dressed simply and took to calling each other sister. In 1830 Catherine began her novitiate at the Presentation Convent in Dublin. She was professed in December 1831 and the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy was born. Catherine's dream had become a reality, her sisters were to: 'educate poor girls, to lodge and maintain poor young women who are in danger...and to visit the sick poor.' In the next ten years Catherine founded nine Convents of Mercy in Ireland and England. Catherine was called to God on 11 November 1841. (Mercy Day is celebrated on 24 September.)

Web address for the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy Australia:

Br Bernard Murphy CFC (1911-1979) was the founding Principal of S Joseph’s College. Br Murphy was born in 1911 in New South Wales and attended St Mary’s Cathedral School in Sydney. While at school he was well known as a musician and athlete. After leaving school he worked as a clerk in the Auditor General’s Department before joining the Christian Brothers. He founded a night school in Adelaide for teaching accountancy to young men who had not finished school before coming to Queensland to establish St Joseph’s College in Toowoomba and later also establishing Aquinas College in Southport. A feature of Br Murphy’s days in the College was the way he made a special effort to move about the yard at recess time and get to know the pupils. He knew them all by their first names and was interested in them. He is also remembered for his musical prowess, being able to play the piano while it was covered with a sheet and playing it behind his back, and for the early College concerts, the first being held in 1956. Br Murphy was called to God in May 1979.

Edmund Ignatius Rice (1762-1844) was the founder of the Christian Brothers. Edmund was born on 1 June 1762 in Callan, Ireland. Edmund was fortunate to receive a good education at home and in school in Callan and Kilkenny. He was married to Mary Elliot in 1785, but Mary died in 1789. Edmund, who had become a wealthy man, was increasingly disturbed with the lot of the poor, Irish Catholics. In 1802 he sold his business and began a night school for the ‘quay kids’ of Waterford. His initial helpers left him after finding the task too difficult. However, two men from Edmund’s native Callan joined him to teach the boys and helped him to found a religious order to educate poor boys. This order was the first one in Ireland to be founded by men and one of the few ever to be founded by a lay man. In 1808 Edmund and six of his companions took religious vows under Bishop Power of Waterford. By 1825 Edmund Rice and his 30 Christian Brothers were educating, free of charge, 5 500 boys in 12 different towns and cities. Many of the boys were also being clothed and fed. Edmund was called to God on 29 August 1844. (Edmund was declared Blessed Edmund Rice by Pope John Paul II in Rome on 6 October 1996. His feast day is 5 May.)

Web address for the Christian Brothers of the Australian Province: