A Brief History of St Monica’s College Development
St Monica’s College, Epping was founded in 1964. A group of Form 1 female students commenced their secondary education attached to St Peter’s Primary School under the direction of Sister Matthias Crowe sgs and assumed the temporary name of ‘St Peter’s High School’.
Growing enrolments in the surrounding parishes, as well as increased numbers of children continuing on to secondary education had necessitated a Catholic secondary school in Melbourne’s far northern suburbs. Thus, the regional Parish Priests and Sisters of the Good Samaritan commenced planning a regional college for girls.
The College at Epping was planned and building commenced in 1966. The name, St Monica’s, was bestowed on the College by Archbishop Justin Simonds in 1966. The Forms 1 and II classes, already operational in Epping and Reservoir, came together under one name and on one site, when the buildings were officially blessed and opened by the Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne, Bishop Lawrence Patrick Moran on 5 February, 1967. The school developed its own uniform, motto and educational traditions.
The College became co-educational in 1978, and a second, junior secondary campus (on 7.3 hectares) was opened in November by Senator Fred Chaney and blest by Archbishop Frank Little with the words “the true foundations of this school are not concrete and rocks, but Jesus Christ.” The Sisters of the Good Samaritan were responsible for the College and provided the Principal until December, 1990. The College’s first lay Principal, Mr Brian E. Hanley was appointed in 1990 and commenced in 1991.
The College expanded further when an Annexe was constructed in Wedge Street, thereby providing Modern Languages, Sport and Food Technology facilities. A second Annexe operated at Vernon Court, Epping until December, 2000. In 2004 the Wedge Street Annexe was incorporated fully into Davisson Street Campus on the purchase of a section of Wedge Street from the Victorian Government. In June, 2004 another Annexe was established and is named Monica’s Cottage attached to the Dalton Road Campus (DRC).
A major refurbishment and extension of the Davisson Street Campus (DSC) buildings and the conversion of the Good Samaritan Convent (including the Samaritan Chapel) was undertaken and the facilities were blest by Father Tom Doyle, Director of Catholic Education, and opened by Peter Cleeland MP on 21 August 1994.
An Information technology wing was created on DSC involving several learning areas and it was blest by Father Anthony Feeney and opened by Board Chairperson Kerry Cercone on 24 August 1995.
In 1999, the College acquired a country property at Strath Creek. It was named Ostia by the College Board and was blest by Father Bob Wood and opened by John Haberman on 19 March 2000.
St Monica’s is currently the regional College for the Parishes of St Peter’s, Epping/ St Mary of the Cross MacKillop, North Epping; St Luke’s, Lalor; St Clare’s, Thomastown West; St Stephen’s, East Reservoir/St Gabriel’s, Reservoir; Holy Name, East Preston; St Francis of Assisi, Mill Park. St Joseph the Worker, North Reservoir is also a Priority Parish for the College.
On the 27 August 1996, His Grace Archbishop, George Pell, officially blest and opened the new Sports and Assembly Hall erected on the DRC. In 1998 the College restructured DRC to be a Years 7-9 Campus when Year 9 students were moved into new buildings. An Administration and Classroom building and Library extension at DRC were blest by Father Tom Doyle and opened by His Excellency the Governor of Victoria, Sir James Gobbo A.C. on 4 August 1998.
In 1999 a shared information technology centre on DSC, ‘The Beehive’, was constructed along with refurbishment of facilities for the performing, visual arts and sciences. These were opened by Senator Tsebin Tchen on 7 May 2000.
Augustine House (incorporating the Helen Lombard sgs Archives Centre) was declared open by Sister Dorothea Tallon sgs together with Our Lady’s Chapel and an Arts/Technology wing on DRC which were opened by Senator Kay Patterson and Board Chairperson Philip Trestrail and blest by on 30 May 2001. Our Lady’s Chapel was blest by Bishop Dante Sandrelli, Bishop Emeritus of the diocese of Formosa, Argentina on 26 April 2001.
By mid 2002, a modern Food Technology Centre was constructed on Dalton Road Campus and was blest by His Eminence Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez and opened by Senator Judith Troeth on 6 September 2002.
Throughout 2003, much activity took place which eventuated in the construction of extensive sporting fields on Dalton Road Campus which were blest and opened by Bishop Christopher Prowse on St Monica’s Day, 2003.
On 17 March 2004 the new Year 10 wing and Science Laboratory on DSC were blest by Father Bob Wood and opened by Madeline Campbell, first College Captain. On that same day, Sister Julian McKenna sgs opened the Our Lady of the Cherry Blossom Peace Garden and the Perseverance Fountain acknowledged forty years of Monican education.
On 22 August 2004 a special liturgy was celebrated in St Patrick’s Cathedral in honour of forty years of Monican education. The Principal Celebrant was Bishop Joseph O’Connell.
The Dalton Road Campus library was officially named the ‘Pamela Coyne Library’ in 2005 in recognition of the long and distinguished service of former staff member and Polding Medal Recipient, Pamela Coyne.
November 2005 also saw the blessing by Father Peter O’Rourke and opening by College Captains, Michelle Rechichi and Jian Samuel of Samaritan Square on the Davisson Street Campus and the creation of an Australian landscape on the former Wedge Street.
In 2007 the John Bede Polding Rose Garden was created. Blest by Father Peter O’Rourke and opened by Sister Dorothy McKay sgs on 19 October 2007. This garden features Good Samaritan Roses purchased with staff donations, to acknowledge the sesquicentenary of the Good Samaritan Order. The roses commemorate key Sisters in the history of the Order and the development of St Monica’s College, Epping.
Throughout 2007 and 2008 a Year 9 building (incorporating The Gateway Room), a Science and Technology building, the Learning and Activities Complex and a piazza-style walkway were constructed on Dalton Road Campus. These facilities were blest by Archbishop Denis Hart and opened by the Director of Catholic Education, Mr Stephen Elder, with the assistance of College Captains Nathan Slevin and Alycia Benincasa on Sunday, 24 August 2008.
In November 2008, work commenced on the construction of a Technology building on Davisson Street Campus and in early 2009 this Industry and Trades Complex was officially blest by Father Brendan Lane and opened by Dominic Moscatello.
In 2009 the College commenced the creation of wetlands down by the Darebin Creek on Dalton Road Campus.
In that year Ostia was adversely affected in the 7 February ‘Black Saturday’ bushfires and several students by the outbreak of the H1N1 (swine) flu epidemic.
Progress was rapid in 2010 as the College utilized Government monies to construct a track and field centre, the LOTE Centre (incorporating the Theatre of All Nations), and to purchase individual netbook computers for all students at the College. The new buildings were constructed on Dalton Road Campus.
The Lorraine Pratt Sports Fields were blest by Bishop Timothy Costelloe SDB on Friday, 27 August, 2010 and he officially opened the Track and Field Centre on that day.
The LOTE Centre inclusive of the Theatre of All Nations was blest by Father Anthony Girolami and opened by Harry Jenkins MP on 25 May 2011. In the same year the Wetlands Project was completed and blest by Father Maurie Cooney and opened by Board Chairperson Liz Dempsey. Solar panels were installed on each campus and at Ostia.
The College opened the VCAL Hub on Davisson Street Campus on Friday 16 September, 2011. This purpose-built facility was blest by Father Brian McMahon and declared open by the Mayor of Whittlesea, Councillor Rex Griffin.
In 2012 the College activated its long-awaited Information Technology Strategic Plan and accordingly was accepted as a CISCO Exemplar School, one of only six in Victoria. This maintained the College’s reputation as a leading school in ICT and as a School of Educational Enterprise.
In 2013 the College opened a Music Performance Centre on the Dalton Road Campus along Dorothea Tallon Way and throughout the year works were undertaken to re-create the Pamela Coyne Library. The Library was rededicated on 9 May, 2014.
The third College Sculpture was unveiled in 2013 on the Dalton Road Campus when Futurum Australis was added to Monica Admirabilis (DRC) and Laudate Dominum (DSC).
The Golden Jubilee (1964 – 2014) of the College was marked by year-long celebrations throughout 2014. The College community embraced fifty years of Monican education with the acclaim “Thanks be to God”. The Apostolic Nuncio in Australia His Excellency Archbishop Paul Gallagher, celebrated the annual St Monica’s Day Mass.
In 2014 the College and Takada Junior and Senior High School in Japan celebrated twenty years of sister schools and homestay relationship.
St Joseph’s Workshop, a Trade Skills Centre, was constructed and blest by Father Maurie Cooney and opened by Senator Michael Ronaldson on 18 November 2015 on the Davisson Street Campus. Enhancements were also made to the Davisson Street Campus Media facilities and the Fred Chamberlin Art Gallery in 2015. An ANZAC Memorial Sculpture, entitled On Flanders Fields, was funded by the Federal Government, and situated on the senior campus. It was blest by Father Maurie Cooney on 22 April 2016 and opened by Andrew Giles MP.
Project Forward, a major redevelopment and expansion program for the College, was launched on 13 April, 2015 under the patronage of St Monica. This project continued throughout 2016 and included conversion of existing facilities into Cooinda, a flexible learning space on Dalton Road Campus. The senior campus environment was enhanced by the creation of Davisson Park.
The inaugural indigenous immersion to Western Australia to collaborate with Good Samaritan Sisters was conducted through the College’s Values Education program.
An extensive refurbishment and enhancement of the Sister Julian Quaine sgs Library was blest and rededicated by Father Peter O’Rourke on Friday 9 June 2017.
The College’s central administration was transferred to Dalton Road, Epping with the construction of a new Augustine House. This double-storey building included the Patricia Thame sgs Board Room, Principal’s Office, College Reception, and office and meeting rooms. It was blest and opened by Father Maurie Cooney on 1 June 2018.
The building features a fourth College sculpture Sanctus Augustinus on its exterior and the Leopoldine Mimovich work, Heart to Heart, in the foyer. The College has successfully acquired a most impressive collection of Leopoldine Mimovich works across the decades.
In 2018 works commenced on a Teaching, Learning and Administration building on Davisson Street Campus and a new HORIZONS classroom precinct was constructed on Dalton Road Campus. It was blest and opened by Father Luciano Toldo on 27 August 2019.
The building on Davisson Street Campus was completed in 2019. It is a three level building and the Jean Vanier Bridge connects it to the original building via the Fred Chamberlin Art Gallery. A fifth sculpture, Sophia, is mounted on the exterior front wall.