A Short History
St Gregory’s began on 3 February 1926. It was not a great start by any measure. The five Brothers on the staff had only two students to care for at the end of the first day! On the bright side, by the end of the year, the student numbers had climbed to ten. It was a very modest start to an initiative by Mr Thomas Donovan. Thomas Donovan and his family were generous benefactors to the Catholic Church. In the early 1920’s he contacted the Marist Brothers about starting a school aimed to help boys learn farming skills to enable them to have careers on the land. This goal suited the Brothers whose philosophy was grounded in the education of young people in rural areas. However, when the original project failed to gain support, Donovan suggested that the Brothers start a College, similar to the Benedictine Colleges in England. Donovan provided use of the Campbelltown property to the Brothers as well as the name of the new College, St Gregory’s.
The foundation Principal in 1926 was Br Felix. However, he was recalled to his position at St Joseph’s College at Hunters Hill even before the end of his first year. Br Laurentius who was on the staff took over the position and remained as Principal until 1933. Br Laurentius was only 27 years old, however, he suffered from ill health and he carried the burden of pioneering a new school without mains electricity or a reliable supply of water. Although enrolments climbed to around 50 students, the effects of the Great Depression at the start of the 1930's saw enrolments tumble to ten students. The future looked bleak and the College was threatened with closure.
Br Antoninus was appointed principal after Br Laurentius died and he led the College during the devastating Depression years that lasted most of the 1930’s. In 1937 a new Principal was appointed who was to dramatically shape the future and identity character of St Gregory’s. Br William Molloy had been a successful leader in several Marist schools before he came to St Gregory’s. He reinvigorated the College registered the school as an agricultural high school, the first Catholic one in Australia. He also selected a new College’s motto: Quae Seminaveris Metes which translated from the Latin means, ‘You will reap what you sow’.
Enrolments rose steadily but it was the threat of invasion by
Japan during the Second World War that boosted student numbers dramatically. During the war years, despite shortages and rationing of most goods, it was a time of expansion at St Gregory’s. The present main building was constructed that provided classrooms and dormitories. At the end of World War II, Br William Molloy was replaced by Br Ambrose as Principal for a few years, followed by Br Valens and then Br Angelus. In the 1950’s the College was stretched to capacity with over 226 boarders. In 1957, the College welcomed back its first old boy Principal. Br Coman Sykes ushered in a new period of growth. Ovals were levelled and grassed, the swimming pool was started and in 1962, the College chapel was opened.
The major reforms to education that were introduced in the 1960's were overseen at St Gregory's by Br Anselm. At the time, Campbelltown and the Macarthur region were booming with a growth rate of 13% compared to the State average of 2%. The Wyndham Scheme instituted six years of secondary education and an extra year at school. The result was a great demand for places at St Gregory’s. The number of day boys soon challenged those of many are boarders. Br Anselm built a new class room and dormitory block in 1963 and just kept going. It seemed each year a new project was being undertaken. Unfortunately Br Anselm, a big man in size as well as character, contracted cancer and died in May, 1970. He had led the College through a period of precedented change and growth.
In the years ahead, Br Charles Howard, Br Frederick, and then Br Clarence, Br Ernest, Br Geoffrey and Br William followed as Principals. Each contributed towards the vision and growth of the College and each man left behind buildings as monuments to their vision for St Gregory’s. Br Ernest initiated a comprehensive building program of class rooms, computer rooms and dormitories. Br William Connell moved the Year 12 boarding house to the north of the campus. During the 1970’s and 1980’s, the College enjoyed the great successes of their students in outstanding HSC results and victories in many sporting competitions. For much of the 1990’s, the College was led by Br Paul Hough.
In 2001 Mr Marshal McMahon was appointed as the first lay Principal of St Gregory’s and he followed in the footsteps of his predecessors by improving the building and facilities for the boys and staff at the College. He had a great commitment to the charism of the Marist Brothers and followed faithfully the wish the founder of the Marist Brothers, Marcellin Champagnat, to ‘make Jesus known and loved’. Br Peter Pemble was appointed Headmaster in 2008 but was unfortunately forced to step down due to ill health. In 2009, Mr Damien Millar was appointed as Headmaster by the Marist Brothers' Provincial Council.