NEWS CENTRE

Building on solid foundations at Koondoola

The latest buildings in the development of Mercy College Koondoola, WA, were blessed and opened on Tuesday August 17. This year marks the fortieth anniversary of the founding of the college. From an original enrolment of about 90 students in 1971, the college has grown to a population of 1600 students from 54 nations in Kindergarten to Year 12. Bev Stott RSM (Congregation Leader, West Perth) reports.

On Tuesday August 17, the latest buildings in the development of Mercy College Koondoola were blessed and opened. This joyous occasion comes close to the fortieth anniversary of the founding of the College by Joan Flynn RSM, then Congregation Leader of the Sisters of Mercy West Perth, in 1971.

After her election to office in 1965, Joan was faced with the fact of dying demographics in the area of West Perth where education was the original ministry of the burgeoning congregation at the beginning of the last century. The inner city area was changing, the population was moving out to newer areas outside the city, particularly into the new housing developments in the northern suburbs.

Joan bravely enlisted the assistance of the State Housing Commission, found land in still virgin bush, and began her planning to provide a Catholic education for the less well resourced people of this area.

Joan at first tried for the collaboration of the Servite Friars who were developing a school in the northern suburb of Osborne Park. But when this did not eventuate, Joan went ahead with her own plans, procured the expertise of Peter Hunt, an up-and-coming young architect who had an interest in buildings for education and who had travelled overseas specifically to learn about solutions tried in other parts of the world.

In February 1972, a new school was opened in Koondoola in an exciting and innovative building called Mercy College with Paula McAdam RSM as principal. There were four sisters on staff and four lay teachers. The remnant of St Brigid’s West Perth children were bussed from the inner city and other local children joined. From an original enrolment of approximately 90 students, the school has grown to 1600 students from 54 nations and extending from Kindergarten to Year 12.

Photo: L-R, Mr Andrew Twine (Chair, Mercy College Board), Mr Peter Garvey (Architect, The Buchan Group), Mr Phillip Schotte (Chair, Mercy College Parent Council), Paula McAdam RSM, Dr Tony Curry (Principal), Auxiliary Bishop of Perth, Don Sproxton, Mrs Vicki Hansen (Bursar), Hon. Minister Mr Chris Evans, Beverley Stott RSM, and Mr Steve Wales (Building Representative, Loxham Developments).

On Tuesday August 17, the little group of official guests gathered in the state-of-the-art library at Mercy College and the buildings were blessed and opened. Among the guests was Auxiliary Bishop of Perth, Don Sproxton who performed the blessing, Paula McAdam RSM who opened the Flynn and McAdam Buildings with a fine speech about the beginnings, and Senator Hon. Chris Evans, Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, who opened the science buildings.

Meanwhile, ordinary school life went on around as the guests went about. The students and their teachers were intent upon their lessons in the classrooms, classrooms which were bright and clean and technologically well equipped. Joan Flynn RSM would have delighted in the occasion but sadly, she had died two months previously.

At the morning tea which followed, Principal, Mr Tony Curry, presented the Sisters of Mercy with the last cheque in the repayment of the interest free loan by the sisters for the completion of the Chapel of St Brigid which graces the grounds of a wonderful and vibrant precinct for Catholic education.

The Sisters of Mercy are justifiable proud and are confirmed in their opinion that the life of the college and its students who come from 54 nations many of whom have refugee trauma in their experience are in the best hands possible.

Mercy College Koondoola, WA, is a well established co-educational Catholic college catering for students from Kindergarten to Year 12.

From: Beverley Stott RSM (Congregation Leader, West Perth)