Being a parish school the history of St Benedict’s is closely tied with that of its Church.
In June 1952 Archbishop Prendiville announced the new Parish of Applecross as all the area from North Lake Road to the Canning River. Fr. Albert Lynch was the first appointed Parish Priest and Mass was initially celebrated in the Applecross District Hall at Canning Bridge. A Parish committee, established by Fr. Albert during 1951, held numerous fundraising activities and in July 1952 he announced the purchase of a site between Alness and Ardross Streets in Applecross where the Church and school now stand. The Applecross Parish has been blessed with four wonderful Parish Priests who have offered outstanding spiritual leadership.
In July 1973 Fr. Rodney Williams succeeded Fr. Albert Lynch and in September 1978 Fr John O’Reilly was appointed to lead our Parish followed by Fr. Peter Whitely in January 2003.
Our current Parish Priest is Fr. Nelson Po who was appointed in 2016.
In the early days the school buildings were used to celebrate Mass each weekend with tables removed and replaced with kneelers on Saturdays and the reverse done after Mass on Sundays. This continued until Sunday 8 March 1959 when, with 400 people in attendance, St Benedict’s Church hall was formally opened by His Grace Archbishop Prendiville. Whilst the school and church buildings were now separated, the foundations for the strong links which still exist today were firmly established.
The Presbytery and Church school were built during 1952 and St Benedict’s Primary School opened on February, 2 1953 with about 50 children in attendance. Sister Mary Angela from the Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions Order was the first Principal, a position which she held until 1961.
The congregation supplied many fine sisters until 1974, after which the School Board appointed Leo Schaper the first lay Principal. Since Mr Schaper’s appointment, there have been six Principals;
The current Principal is Mr Steve Miranda who was appointed in 2020.
Over the subsequent years, St Benedict’s has continued to grow and develop its facilities. A purpose built early learning centre was completed in 1992, and now houses our current 3 and 4 Year Old Kindergarten. The current junior primary classrooms were completed in the 1980s, with an extra classroom added in 1999. The current Pre-Primary Blue room was originally a Year 3 classroom before becoming a Pre-Primary in 2001. The double storey block, canteen and undercover area was completed in 2005 and now houses our senior primary classes. In 2014, this building underwent further refurbishment and development to create two pre-primary classrooms to cater for our growing early childhood numbers. The double storey block, canteen and undercover area was completed in 2005 and now houses our senior primary classes. The original building where the office and administration were was demolished and rebuilt in 2014-2015 to link the building into a new a larger double story school.
Our new St Benedict’s Church was opened in 2008, and has been acclaimed and recognised by architects around the country. With an outstanding new space for worship, the old Church above the Parish Hall was de-sanctified.
In 2010 after major work, the old church space became the Library. As part of that work, the parish hall was also refurbished and modernised and currently is the Year Two classrooms.
Since its earliest beginnings with 50 children, St Benedict’s has now grown to an enrolment of approximately 400 children from 3 Year Old Kindergarten to Year Six. The school’s excellent facilities allow the talented and dedicated staff to assist the children to develop their full potential.
If you know a story or anecdote that might shed more light on the history of St. Benedict’s, please leave a reply below (including links to relevant sources where appropriate). We’d love to know more about the site, the church and our school.
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