Education has and is a marked feature in the life of the Catholic Church in Australia. Where parishes were formed, schools soon followed with the majority of teachers being from the religious orders.
The Sisters of St Joseph arrived in Mackay in 1872, and in Clermont in 1873. The Sisters of Mercy arrived in Rockhampton in 1873. In 1894, the Christian Brothers came to Rockhampton to conduct a boys’ school. In 1900, the Presentation Sisters began their ministry in Queensland with the opening of their convent at Longreach. In the ensuing decades, these religious orders opened many more schools across the diocese with them supplying the majority of the teaching staff till the 1960’s.
In the 1960’s with changes both in the Church following Vatican II, the fall in the numbers of religious and the requirement to fulfill a changed curriculum, Catholic Schools faced an enormous crisis. Taking this as an opportunity Fr Kevin Castles developed the scope of the Catholic Education Office. In a relatively short space of time, this body took over responsibility for running the overwhelming majority of schools in the diocese.
The Grail came to Mackay in 1956 opening a hostel for young women and teaching catechetics. They also introduced Adult Education to Mackay, which then spread to other parts of the diocese.
Sr Beryl Amedee rsm recommended to Bishop Wallace to offer theological formation to teachers. Thus began the ‘Bishop’s Inservice Days’ which are held each year across the diocese. Not only is there input from speakers, but workshops run by local people have been encouraged. These are now open to all who serve within the Rockhampton Diocese.