St Patrick's College, Strathfield was established in 1928 by the Christian Brothers for the youth in Western Sydney and to provide teaching experience for student Brothers.
Br. Hickey founded St. Patrick’s College, which opened in January 1928. From the beginning of 1927, Br Hickey, though not enjoying good health, daily supervised the building operations of the new school; but he was not destined to be present at the Blessing and Opening of the project so dear to his heart.
As Provincial from 1930-1942, Br Hanrahan saw the
establishment of seventeen new Christian Brothers' schools around Australia and New Zealand. Interested in the opening of St Patrick's College, he supervised the furnishing and the use of the Teaching Demonstration Room in the original building. The architect of the building, Mr J J Hennessy, was an ex-pupil of Br Hanrahan’s when at Goulburn. On the first day the three Brothers who welcomed the 39 students were Br. S. Carroll, Br. K. Kent and Br. J Crichton, while Br. E Crowle did the enrolling.
Br. Crichton spent all but one year of his teaching career at St Patrick's College from its opening day in 1928, that is, 59 years. He therefore saw the College grow in size and prestige from its humble beginnings. Generations of pupils have acquired skills in the woodwork and manual arts under Br Crichton's expert tuition, and his craft room was once styled by an ex-pupil in a letter from overseas as "the best room in the best school in the best country in the world". Br. Crichton become one of the best-loved teachers in the school’s history, becoming its father figure and dying in 1985 at the age of 90.
Much of the early school furniture - tables, presses, class altars and the Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help - as well as repairs through the years to the same - were the products of Br Crichton's skilful hands.
Br. E. Crowle was appointed Principal in 1929 with a community of 5 Brothers. Br. Crowle was instrumental in the development of the student body at St. Patrick’s. When he left at the beginning of 1933, the numbers had grown to 300.
Br. M. Breen came to Australia from Ireland in 1922. He had been a headmaster at Lewisham before coming to Strathfield. He knew the value of the land and the place of sport in a school, and his priceless contribution to St. Patrick’s was the acquisition of the vacant blocks of land opposite the College that went to comprise the playing field now honouring his memory.
Br. Coghlan first came to St Patrick's as Headmaster in 1936 for six years, and again in 1945 to 1950. Under his kindly but firm way, a new era dawned for the College: a time of serious study, of outstanding academic and sporting achievements; new school badge and uniform; the College motto "Luceat Lux Vestra"; double-decker transport to railway stations, and the completion of No.1 Oval and part of the tennis courts.
During Br Coghlan's time, the roll-call reached 850, a record for that period. St Patrick's thereafter grew in the prestige brought to it through the devoted care and management of the good Br Coghlan.
Br. Markwell began his teacher training at Mt St Mary, Strathfield in 1941. He took classes at St Patrick's for several years and graduated from the Queensland University.
In 1954, Br Markwell was transferred to the staff of the Training College, and thus he kept up his association with St Patrick's while supervising, as Master of Method, the student Brothers teaching there. A great teacher himself, he also participated in all SPC activities especially at football and hiking. He played a major part in planning and using the Demonstration building which bears his name.
In 1942 Br. B. Quirke was appointed Principal. During this war time era the College saw its enrolments fall to below 500. Many families were moving out of the city into the country. The Brothers community in 1942 consisted of Br. J. Hynes, Br. N. McMahon, Br. M. Murphy, Br. J. Crichton, Br. F. Marzorini, Br. J. McGlade, Br. E. Robinson, Br. J. Coghlan (Superior) and Br. M. Mullen.
In 1944 Br. M. O’Connell was appointed Principal followed by Br R. Garvey in 1951. Br. Garvey began plans to construct the secondary block (today known as the Coghlan Building), but when the plans were ready to be launched, he was transferred to Melbourne to become Provincial of the newly formed province of Victoria.
In 1946, Bruce Dean (now Br. Dean) joined the staff of St Patrick's, at a time when there were only two other lay teachers. Starting with Year 7, he taught in the secondary school, finishing with classes in Years 11 and 12. He was one of the senior science team, being responsible for the geology department.
In 1971, the College tendered him a Silver Jubilee Dinner to celebrate his long association with its work. Shortly afterwards, he was able to fulfil a long and secret ambition to join the Christian Brothers. He was nearly fifty years of age. Replacing his coat and tie with soutane and cincture, he continued to teach as he had done for so many years before. At the end of 1975, he was transferred to Waverley College.
Br. Raymer came to St Patrick's in January, 1948. He became a popular teacher of the junior classes, bringing a friendly atmosphere into the classroom. His favourite activities were of the out-of-doors variety; he was fond of hiking in company with Br Markwell and his boys in the Blue Mountains. He also revelled in outdoor physical work, and the grounds around SPC and the then newly acquired Fatima House and its surrounds are memorials of his pick and shovel work, which many of his boys loved to share with him.
He was a good coach of the six-seven stone football teams, and it was on a football Carnival day at Wollongong that he lost his life while rescuing two of the lads who were surfing after a match. This tragedy occurred on 25 July, 1953. His heroic deed was lauded over the ABC network. His early death was a blow not only to his parents in Brisbane, but also to the whole SPC Family.
Br. J. McGlade continues on Br. Garvey’s plans, seeing through the developments of the Coghlan Building. Br. McGlade joined St Patrick's staff in 1936, closing his 23 years' teaching there and his Headmastership in 1959 when he became a member of the Provincial Executive at Mt St Mary. From 1966 to 1978, Br McGlade completed 12 years as Provincial Superior of NSW and Papua New Guinea.
Br. McGlade stills lives on campus and at 91 years of age his mind and memory are still very alert.
Br. Hodda joined the Christian Brothers in Strathfield in December 1932, where he spent 50 years of his Religious Life. He was appointed Headmaster of St Patrick's College, Strathfield in 1956 to 1961. He became responsible for a major building programme which included the present beautiful school Chapel, the Brothers' Monastery, an Administration Block, and the Swimming Pool. With the support of the ever-enthusiastic Parents' & Friends' Association, he organised schemes for fund-raising to extend Science and other facilities; the co-operation of St Patrick's Old boys' Union made possible also the construction of the Club House and sports oval at Hudson Park.
Br. Hodda’s successor was Br. F. Hannigan. Br. Hannigan paid tribute to the vast building works that were undertaken by Br. Hodda.
Br. B. Berg came to the College in 1961. Br. Berg was a great lover of sports and was a member of the WS Referees Association, the Australian Schoolboys Cricket Association and the NSW Cricket Umpires Association. His name is commemorated in the Br. Berg scoreboard on Breen Oval.
Br. H. Gygar was appointed Principal in 1964 – 1966. Br. Gygar oversaw the development of the back ovals and had the grass embankment at the southern end of Breen Oval concreted in steps and seating installed. Twenty years on Br. O’Shea had the area roofed. Br. Gygar retired at the end of 1966 and returned to Queensland where he entered the priesthood.
In 1970 Br. Duffy came to St Patrick's College where he taught Latin, Ancient History and Mathematics for 18 years with success. He was a keen supporter of soccer. Eventually at the age of 70, he retired from teaching. Brother Duffy succeeded in arousing throughout the College an outstanding interest in the Foreign Missions. In the last year of his life he collected over $10,000 for the Missions through the school.
Br. T. Casey was a progressive headmaster. He introduced the eight day cycle of periods and gave the College a new Administration Centre. Br. Casey’s second project was the construction of the Junior School block. Br. Casey was Principal for eight years from 1967 – 1974 and had reshaped much of the school.
Br. R. Bransby was a key figure at St. Patrick’s. He came in 1972 to be maintenance man and curator of ovals. In 1979 he began to lay a turf wicket on No. 2 Oval and with regular attention it was ready for play in 1982. He then turned the turf wicket laid in 1940 on No. 1 Oval (Breen). Br. Bransby was a bus driver, rugby referee, organiser of working bees, lynchpin for College fetes and Mr Fix-it in an emergency.
Br. W. Greening was Principal form 1975 – 1980. Br. Greening strove to see St. Patrick’s secure a place in the Associated Schools and while not entirely successful, saw St. Patrick’s accepted on a provisional basis. The success of the Golden Jubilee Year was in no small measure the result of his efforts.
Br. J. O’Shea came to St. Patrick’s in 1981. He quickly got plans underway for the development of the Healy Staff Room. This would provide staff with more study desks, a common room and kitchen facilities. There was also planning for rooms for art, woodwork and technics. The Art-Woodwork- Technics rooms were opened in May 1983. The building was most appropriately named after Br. Crichton. Br. O’Shea Principalship also saw the building of the College Gymnasium
In 1988 the College saw Br. J. Giacon appointed as Headmaster. He had been Br. O’Shea’s Deputy in 1987. Br. Giacon added a second storey above the Senior Library, which provided additional teaching spaces and a centre for HSC Examinations. The range of secondary courses was expanded. Computing Studies was begun in 1988 and was offered as an elective in 1990. Other subjects included Italian, Mandarin Chinese, Studies of Religion, Design Technology, Wood Technology and Business Studies. Br Giacon was the last Christian Brother to be Principal of St. Patrick’s College. He departed the College in 1992.
Br. Kelly touched the hearts of all SPC Students between the years of 1993 - 2001. Br. Kelly was always an avid supporter of the College’s sporting fixtures. His cries from the stand were always welcomed by the students. Br. Kelly became Community Leader in 1994 until 2001. His sad passing in 2004 moved the entire College community.
On 29 November 2006, the College lost its last active Christian Brother on staff, Br. Powell. Br. B. C. Powell came to the College in January 1994. He was not only a great teacher, but a rugby coach and great supporter of all aspects of College life. Br. Powell spent his last few years on staff as a staff assistant. He will be greatly missed.Adapted from ‘All Our Yesteryears’, Br. J. A. McGlade, 1999. St. Patrick’s College Strathfield.