Our HistorySt Joseph's Yarra Junction - A school with a story to tell..
St Joseph’s Yarra Junction – A school with a story to tell..
Year Opened: 1958
Parish Priest: Fr Charles Cerini
Principal: Sr Gertrude Mills
Year closed: 1994
Year Opened: 1987
Parish Priest: Fr John Hennessey
Principal: Sr Loreto Cuffe
In 1952 Fr. Charles Cerini was appointed Parish Priest for the Catholic Parish of Warburton. A parish large in area with many small communities scattered throughout. As a man of vision and many talents, Fr. Cerini saw the need for the establishment of a parish school that would strengthen the faith community and help support parents in passing on the Catholic faith to their children. With the support and help of the local Warburton community and his building knowledge and skills, a school and convent were built on land purchased with a significant donation from Miss Leila Ward. Once the buildings were completed Fr. Cerini invited the Sisters of St Joseph to take up residence and to begin the education of Catholic students from within the parish. So in May 1958, Sister Gertrude Mills and Sr. Jerome opened the school with an enrolment of 90 students in years Prep to 6. When Fr. Heffey from Gladysdale, joined the teaching staff a few years later, classes were then available from Prep to Form 4 (Year 10).
With the relocation of the High School from Warburton to Yarra Junction transport for the St Joseph’s School students from Yarra Junction and beyond became a problem. Fr. Cerini took up the challenge and for two years drove a bus around the area to collect and return the students each school day. When unable to continue this service, due to ill health, Fr Cerini requested assistance from the government. This request for assistance was rejected. To highlight their plight and to bring to public notice the need for transport assistance, the students accompanied by adults, walked the six miles from Yarra Junction to Warburton and back again for ten days. At the end of this time a compromise was reached by the government for the conveyance of the students.
While the 1970s brought an increase in the local population, it also brought about an increase in the number of students and teaching staff. It was in these years that lay teachers were first employed in the school to cope with the ever-growing numbers of students and the lessening number of Josephite Sisters available for teaching roles.
Fr. Max Grabau was Parish Priest during some of these years and he recognised the need for the parish to purchase land that could accommodate a new Catholic school in the parish. This was the 23 acres of land situated at Milners Road, Yarra Junction.
Students at St. Joseph’s were always actively involved and successful at sport. During the 1980s with Sr. Loreto Cuffe’s interest and enthusiasm for table tennis, the students won many trophies at the Australian School Table Tennis Championships held in Melbourne.
For the next eight years St Joseph’s continued to function as a two-campus school with Rod Barnard becoming the first lay Principal in 1988.
In 2008, the school celebrated 50 years since its formation and 21 years at Yarra Junction.
In late 2010, the school went through exciting changes. After many years of service, Peter Vanstan and Fr. Pat Purcell left the school and parish. Fr. Eugene Ashkar was appointed as Parish Priest. During 2011 John Faulkner became principal.
Further reading about St Joseph’s School can be found in Warburton Ways by Earle Parkinson, Signs Publishing, 1993, pp 142-144.