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On the 27 February 1873, Sisters Gertrude Wright and Magdalen Foley arrive in Townsville to establish the first Catholic school in the town.
Townsville was still only an infant settlement when St Joseph's Church was built on The Strand.
It stood on a site midway between the present St Patrick's College on the Strand and the Sisters of Mercy Chapel in Fryer Street. The first Parish Priest, Rev.Fr Connelly applied to Mother Mary MacKillop, foundress of the Sisters of St Joseph, for teachers to help him staff a school for the children of Catholic settlers in Townsville. The sisters opened a school and like the church, it was dedicated to St Joseph.
Some five years later this community of nuns who responded so well to local needs was recalled to Brisbane.
In 1878, a request was made to Brisbane for the Sisters of Mercy to reopen the school. This was achieved in 1879. In those early years the sisters had to support themselves and pay lay teachers as well. They managed this by providing music tuition for children and adults alike.
Floods as early as 1892 and as recent as 1999 have played a part in the building and rebuilding of the current school. Cyclones too have left their mark. St Joseph's School is a continuing story of building and refurbishment as it strives to meet the needs of an expanding population and, in particular, the need to assist families in the education of their children.
Today, St Joseph's School is still researching and documenting the wonderful history of the school and the wider parish. If you would like to contribute to this project, please feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org or call in to the school office.