Stella Maris College
Stella Maris College
In 1857 Archbishop Polding founded the first Australian order of nuns, the Sisters of the Good Samaritan of the Order of St. Benedict. Among other work the Sisters had become concerned with the large number of neglected children and began to search for a home where they could help them. In 1880 they heard of William Bede Dalley’s house at Manly, then unoccupied and in disrepair. It proved an ideal spot and in 1881 was blessed as the Star of the Sea Convent and the Good Samaritan Sisters moved in.
That year the Sisters opened up an Industrial School to care for neglected children and orphans where they were taught normal school subjects up to the age of 14, and trained in skills that would enable them to earn a living. It was fortunate they did, for in 1886 the Parramatta orphanage, also run by the Sisters of the Good Samaritan, was closed and the Sisters at Manly were able to accept the children and care for them as well as carry on their work in the Industrial School. With their schooling and training the children were provided with a happy, home-like atmosphere, ensuring they had the skills necessary to take their place in society.
By the time the Industrial School moved from Manly to Narellan in 1910 it had cared for more than two thousand children. The reason for the move was that Manly was fast progressing and the rural atmosphere the Sisters considered desirable for the children was being lost. The older girls of the Industrial School were moved to Balmain to be near the firms which provided them with work.
Four years after their arrival in Manly, the Sisters took over full responsibility for St Mary’s School in Whistler Street. Under different names, it catered for boys as well as girls until the opening of the Christian Brothers School in 1929.
In 1930 the original house bought from Mr Dalley was demolished and the existing Convent and matching school were built. In 1931 the Sisters of the Good Samaritan took another giant step in the field of education with the opening of Stella Maris College. The College was opened on February 4 with an intake of thirty three pupils from Kindergarten to Intermediate Certificate, including two small boys.
Stella Maris College has grown significantly from its first intake of thirty three students in 1931 to approximately one thousand students today, large enough to provide a breadth of learning experiences, yet retaining structures to ensure each girl is recognized, supported and valued.