Our Lady of Lourdes is a school proud of its heritage. We celebrated our 50th anniversary in 2015.
The building of a Catholic school in Bayswater was a major step in the Catholic life of this suburb and was to lead to the establishment of the separate Parish of Our Lady of Lourdes, which until 1968 was part of the Boronia Parish which had been severed from St. John’s Ferntree Gully. However, as a Mass centre, Bayswater had functioned for about 40 years. Firstly in private homes, then in the public hall in High Street for a few years. The first Catholic church hall was in Mountain Highway. It was transported from Spencer Street (where it was used as the ‘Mission for Seamen’ chapel) and became Our Lady of Lourdes church hall just after World War 2. Mass was celebrated there every Sunday, after the opening by Archbishop Daniel Mannix, and it was also used for social and fundraising functions for about 20 years.
As the Mountain Highway site was too small for development for a school, it was decided in 1964 to purchase land in Orange Grove, to establish a new parish centre.
The present church school building was blessed and opened by Dr Simmonds in 1965, and the school took the first pupils in Prep to Grade Four early that year. Prior to that time the Catholic children travelled by train and the parish bus to Ferntree Gully, and for a short time Grades 5 and 6 were accommodated at St Joesph’s Boronia when it opened.
In 1967 two more classrooms were built to cater for increasing enrolments.
With the establishment of Our Lady of Lourdes as a separate parish in 1968 a presbytery was acquired in Waranga Road as a temporary measure and extended to accommodate a housekeeper.
Further additions to the school were needed as the parish grew and two more classrooms and a shelter shed were added early in 1969. At the same time the sports oval was upgraded.
Three classrooms, a new tuck shop, staffroom and office were added in 1970. In 1976 two portable classrooms were purchased as an interim measure while waiting for capital assistance from the Government for a new classroom block. This block was to be joined to the existing school building and a new girls’ toilet block was built in 1976.
Although the school was established under the guidance of Sister Genevieve from St. Joseph’s School Boronia – Our Lady of Lourdes was unable to obtain a religious congregation to staff the school until 1973. Hence, we were greatly indebted to the dedicated lay teachers who conducted our school. Our head teachers were Mrs J. Finn 1965 – 1968, Miss E. Reid 1969, Mrs E.K. Reid 1970 – 1973.
In 1972 the remainder of the church land in Mountain Highway was sold to Safeway Stores Pty Ltd and the adjoining acre of land in Orange Grove was purchased for the future church, presbytery and convent.
The Salesian Sisters, Sisters Christina, Helen and Eileen, arrived in January 1973, and were temporarily accommodated during that year at the homes of Mrs B. Rees at 4 Vincent Street, Mrs D. Stewart at 15 Peck Street and 17 Bungalook Road, until the convent was ready for occupation on December, 23rd of that year.
Our new church and presbytery project began on 6th May, 1976 and the presbytery was ready for occupation on January 22nd, 1977. The first Mass in the new church was celebrated on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes on February 11th, 1977 with the official blessing and opening of the church and presbytery taking place on March 25th.
The rear of the hall was converted for use as a school library and another portable classroom was purchased at the beginning of 1977 to help cater for a school enrolment of over 430 pupils.
As enrolments of pupils and staff numbers increased, major extensions to the hall building, followed by new brick classrooms and a new administration area and tuck shop, plus extensions to the staff room, were added over the next ten years, culminating in the building of a wonderful new library.
Following Sr. Eileen as principal, we have had Sisters Sarah and Margaret until the appointment of Mr. Denis O’Callaghan (1990 – 1993) followed by Mrs Jenny Allatt (1994 – 2008). Our next principal, Mr Brendan Welsford was appointed in 2009 and led our school admirably until 2016 when he was succeeded by our current principal Mr Ross Williams.
The school has, since its foundation, been very energetically and generously assisted financially and socially by the School Auxiliary or Parents and Friends Committee.
The foundation years of Our Lady of Lourdes School were a time of struggle and effort to set up a school that would provide both a solid Catholic education in faith and a firm grounding in academic and social development for the children of Catholic parents in Bayswater.
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