Catholic Education South Australia

School History

In the introduction to “Cottages and Cameos of Clare" by Win Johnson, we read Clare began settlement as a town in 1841/42…..the area was proclaimed a District Council in 1853, and the township a municipality in 1868.
The first recorded attempt to establish a school in Clare was made on January 13th, 1849, when an open meeting resolved to open a school based " on liberal principles and in such a manner that it should not interfere with the religious prejudices of any party".
By the time Clare had achieved local government, our school was already well underway. As no separate building or residence was available, Bishop Murphy provided a large room attached to the Church for use as a school room. A house was also provided for the first schoolmaster and his family. William Lennon successfully applied for the position of schoolmaster along with another applicant, Mr Benson. In those early days the enrolment at the school was 30. There were 45 children in the town. The parents paid as much as they could to support their schoolmaster and his family. 
He was a well-respected member of the community, bringing much life and enthusiasm to any project. William Lennon died at the age of 72 on February 16th, 1895. He and his family are buried in St Michael's Catholic Cemetery, the headstone of which is preserved in the wall of our playground - a reminder to us of our beginnings.

On June 10th, 1869, the Sisters of St Joseph took up residence in Clare.

In 1869 the Congregation of the Sisters of St Joseph was still in its relative infancy, having been founded just three years previously in March 1866, by Mother Mary of the Cross MacKillop and Father Julian Tenison Woods. The convent in Clare was attached to the rear of the original church. It was also at this time that the school's name became ‘St Joseph's’ following a custom initiated by Father Tenison Woods, that places where the Sisters lived and worked be dedicated to the care of St Joseph.

For many years the Sisters provided classes for secondary students as well as for primary-aged children. Classes up to Intermediate (Year 10) level were available until 1967. It was also at this time that the school employed its first lay teacher. The Sisters also taught music to many pupils.The growth and vitality of our school bears testimony to the generosity, dedication and hard work of this parish community from its earliest beginnings right up to the present day, and we look forward with confidence to its continuing growth in the future.