In 1883 the Sisters of Mercy ventured from the Swan River Colony to the coastal township of Bunbury to bring educational opportunities to the children of the South West. And so began the long history of our College. The Marist Brothers entered the scene in 1954 providing education for boys in the region. The formation of Bunbury Catholic College took place in 1973 with the amalgamation of the Marist Brothers’ St Francis Xavier’s boys school and the Mercy Sisters’ St Joseph’s girls school. A further phase in our history saw a second Campus built at Australind in 2015. This Campus is known as the Mercy Campus.
It is fitting that we acknowledge the dedicated work of the Brothers and Sisters in the formation of St Francis Xavier’s College and St Joseph’s School. Although there are no longer Brothers or Sisters on our staff the ethos and traditions that they developed many years ago still remain today.
Bunbury Catholic College is part of the Marist Brothers story, which began with our College Patron,St Marcellin Champagnat (1788-1840). Ordained a priest in France in 1816, Marcellin then founded the Marist Brothers to teach and help others, especially the poor. He was a man of action who modelled his life of loving service on Mary.
The Marist Brothers first began showing an interest in establishing a school in Bunbury as early as 1922. It was not until 1952 that land previously owned by the Flynn family of Sandridge Park was finalised as the site for the school. The official opening of St Francis Xavier’s College took place on January 31st, 1954 under the directorship of Brother Valentine Flynn assisted by Brother Martin Munroe. A total of 84 boys were enrolled. At the end of 1972 the enrolment numbered 290.
Irish born Catherine McAuley founded the Sisters of Mercy order in 1831. Her simple works of extending help to the poor and needy of Dublin spread rapidly throughout the world with the growth of the Mercy Sisters order.
In 1883 three Mercy Sisters arrived in Bunbury to pioneer Catholic education in Bunbury and environs. St Joseph’s was developed (on the site of the current Bunbury Art Gallery) and by the close of 1884 had become…”the largest elementary schoolroom in the Colony…”
In 1899 Sacred Heart High School opened. It was seen as a ‘select’ school that was patronised by non-Catholics as well as Catholics. Despite operating in the same grounds as St Joseph’s, there were separate uniforms and playgrounds until 1955 when the two schools amalgamated to form St Joseph’s School.
Bunbury Catholic College
In 1972, with the encouragement of the Catholic Community of Bunbury, the then Bishop of Bunbury, Bishop Myles McKeon, took decisive action to amalgamate the Marist Brothers’ St Francis Xavier’s College and the Mercy Sisters’ St Joseph’s School into a co-educational Catholic College.
With a staff of ten religious and nine lay teachers, Bunbury Catholic College opened in February 1973 to cater for the needs of Catholic high school students of Bunbury and environs.
The amalgamation process was not without its problems. Initially, the school remained divided with years 9 and 10 students at the Marist Brothers site and years 8, 11 and 12 at the St Joseph’s site. Five traffic offences occurred in the first three weeks as teachers commuted between sites! Despite the immediate difficulties in the school, there was an overall satisfaction and enthusiasm among parents and students that helped to develop Bunbury Catholic College as we know it today.
In 2015, the College opened a second campus in Australind, named the Mercy campus. At the start of 2020, the Mercy campus became a standalone college named Our Lady of Mercy College.
Our College Crest is designed to convey the central place of Christ and the Church in our College Community, with the cross symbolising our challenge to live the Gospel. The rising red and green spires reflect the presence of the church and our own aspiration for the higher Good in Life. The ‘M’s making the spires bear witness to our founding teaching orders, the Marist Brothers and the Sisters of Mercy. These symbols are contained within a circle that represents the College’s commitment to the whole person.