1846 to 2021

In 2021 Mercedes College is proud to be celebrating its 175 Year Anniversary alongside its College community.

The flame of Mercy education was lit by Mother Catherine McAuley in Dublin, Ireland and carried to our Western Australian shores by Mother Ursula Frayne and the founding Sisters in February 1846. 

Today, it continues to burn brightly through the ministry of Sisters of Mercy and the College community.

We invite you to be a part of this celebration sharing your memories of your own Mercy journey.

Come celebrate with us


  • 1840

    Sr Ursula Frayne and 6 sisters arrive on “The Elizabeth”. School opens with one student in a rented cottage on February 2. By the end of the year 100 students are enrolled.

    First convent in Australia is built and named “Holy Cross”.

    First pension (paying) school opens.

  • 1850

    Sr Ursula returns to Ireland seeking recruits for the mission. Students number 145.

    Foundation stone laid for new school

    279 students. New school built by Ticket-of-Leave men known as the “School House”, comprised four schools (Our Lady of Mercy School, St Mary’s, St Joseph’s and Holy Angels)

    Sr Ursula resigns from the mission.

    Sr Ursula left for Melbourne to establish a Mercy centre in Fitzroy.

    Sr Ursula left for Melbourne to establish a Mercy centre in Fitzroy.

  • 1860

    Mary Brennan is the first Australian to join the Sisters of Mercy (boarder at Victoria Square from 1858-1860)

    Dormitory and study rooms are added to the school to accommodate students coming from a distance.

    The foundation stone was laid for the Cathedral by Bishop Dom Salvado.

    Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception opens.

    Sr Francis Goold returns from Melbourne and administers the school until 1876.

  • 1870

    The present Sisters of Mercy Convent was blessed and opened on 18 October.

  • 1880

    During a visit to the Eastern States to fundraise for repairs to the Subiaco orphanage following a fire, Vicar General Matthew Giney’s train is held up in Glenrowan due to Kelly gang siege and performs the last rites. A building is named Glenrowan.

  • 1890

    Opening of St Joseph’s day school and Ladies College Boarding School.

    The private residence of Romansleigh, was purchased. Principal of St Joseph’s is Sister Mary John Stewart.

  • 1900

    Mother Brigid McDonald is named Principal of the Ladies College, a title she holds until the 1930’s.

    Diamond Jubilee of Foundation of Victoria Square schools. The Catholic schools’ examiner places St Joseph’s as the number one school in Australia.

  • 1910

    Alliance Francaise exams start

    Building commences on the Serisier wing named after the first Principal of Mercedes College, Sister Dolores Serisier. The building was demolished in 1997 for parking.

  • 1920

    Ex-students association starts. The College first publishes “The Link”.

    Chapel of the Immaculate Conception opens in December.

    The College’s history of sporting excellence begins with the inaugural Primary Schools Basketball competition, where the school is number one.

    Kindergarten built on Performing Arts Centre site. Glenrowan Building is built on site of Romansleigh stables.

  • 1930

    College students sing at the opening of the new part of St Mary’s Cathedral.

    The Grotto, modelled on the Lourde’s grotto, is built from ex-students’ donations, to celebrate the founding of the Order of Mercy 100 years ago.

    Dancing lessons for Year 9 students commenced, starting a tradition which still exists today.

    First record of House names – Moran, Xavier, Newman and Vincent.

    Ladies College boarders transferred to Santa Maria Ladies College.

  • 1940

    Centenary celebration of the Sisters of Mercy.

  • 1950

    Past pupil of St Joseph’s, Lancelot Goody, consecrated Bishop.

    Music rooms built behind the Grotto.

    Building erected where McDonald building is today.

  • 1960

    St Jospeh’s upgraded to High School status and can now accept Leaving students.

    Lovelock House, situated where Hall is today, was purchased and renamed Coolock House (name of Catherine McAuley’s house outside Dublin).

    Our Lady’s College and St Joseph’s amalgamate to form Mercedes Catholic School for Girls. First Principal, Sister Mary Dolores Serisier. Houses were Mannix, Dominic, Damian and Chanel.

    Inauguration of the College Annual, which replaced “The Link”.

    Romansleigh demolished.

  • 1970

    Education Support Class introduced to College.

    Sr Mary Gerard Dolan appointed Principal. College wins Jerry Dolan Shield for Athletics for the first time and holds it until 1980 when it is replaced with the ACC Shield. House competition begains for all aspects of school life, sport, academic and cultural.

    New Houses are named – McAuley, Frayne, McDonald and Serisier

    Pool built by P & F on Convent garden land. Tertiary Admissions Examinations commence.

    Sisters exchange land they own in Scarborough for Victoria Hostel in Goderich Street, which is demolished to form staff car park. Primary school education is phased out of Mercedes site at the end of the year.

    Sr Mary Assisium becomes Principal, the first ex-student to be appointed.

  • 1980

    St Joseph’s Board School and Coolock House demolished. Mercedes Medal introduced and the College name changes to Mercedes College.

    The School Hall is built and opens in May.

    The College purchases two building blocks adjacent to the hall to form the College Oval. The new College crest is adopted on Mercy Day.

    House Captain/House System established with Honour Shield in Hall in memory of Marissa Scurria, a student who was killed in a car accident.

    Presentation of the Marian Year Liturgy on the ABC “Sunday Worship”. House banners and t-shirt designs for Houses are launched. Blessing of new Oval.

    Fiona Alessandri, ex-student, represents Australia In Seoul Olympics in Swimming.

    Demolition of 1953 Convent building for new Administration and Library known as the Mercy Wing.

  • 1990

    Blessing and opening of the Mercy Wing by His Grace Archbishop Foley. Demolition of old Kindergarten building to make way for the Performing Arts Centre. College wins all tennis trophies – a first for any girls school to hold in any one year.

    The Performing Arts Centre opens with “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. 150th Anniversary of the death of Catherine McAuley. Young Mercies formed.

    Fun run raises $15,000 for victims in Somalia. Students rated best fundraisers in Australia.

    The art deco building “Rostrevor” was purchased and converted. The Heritage Room is established, honouring ex-student and benefactor Miss Julia Henry. Sr Anne McLay publishes a history of the Sisters of Mercy WA, entitled “Women out of their Sphere”.

    Tanya Aplin is Mercedes’ first Rhodes Scholar. Fun Run raises $29,000 for Care Australia’s Rwanda Appeal. College wins Athletics Shield for the 14th year.

    Hospitality Course commenced with the opening fo the Rostrevor Restaurant. 150th Anniversary of the departure of Ursula Frayne and companions from Dublin.

    150th Celebration Year culminates with a mass in the Entertainment Centre and a bronze bust of Catherine McAuley presented to Sr Mary Assisium in appreciation of her service to the College. The sculpture stands in Catherine’s Garden. Inaugural House Drama Festival. Golden Swan Award presented to the Sisters of Mercy for Outstanding Community Service. After a period of inactivity MESA re-introduced itself.

    Ms Denis O’Meara appointed first lay Principal. The Serisier building is demolished to provide staff parking.

    The Ursula Frayne Centre is opened by Sister Mary Assium Wright and blessed by Bishop Healy. Inaugural Language program for Japanese students begins.

    Sr Maureen Cream publishes the histjory fo the College “Out of These Stones”.

  • 2000

    Millenium Celebrations. Students and staff raise $15,000 for projects in Perth, East Timor and Ethiopia.

    Sisters transfer governance and administration of Mercedes and Santa Maria Colleges to MercyCare Board.

    160th Celebration Year.

    Ex-student Sheena Barber (1968) commenced as Principal.

    The College hosts a visit by the US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice. Introduction of Year 7 to High School,

  • 2010

    The College, and in particular the Year 12s, had the privilege of meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Education, Julia Gillard and the Federal Minister for Defence, Stephen Smith in a Q&A session. With the Federal Government’s BER funding, the College’s renovated canteen and the Coolock Centre, an education support facility, is opened by The Hon. Stephen Smith, Federal Minister for Defence and Member for Perth. Year 11 student Natasha Giuffre wins a scholarship to attend the prestigious LEAP program in Los Angeles.

    The College is invited to participate in the reinterment mass for Bishop Brady in the St Mary’s Cathedral. Year 10 students participate in CHOGM held in Perth. 165th Year is celebrated with the opening of the Serisier Learning Centre and the Coady Sports Centre in December. The official signing of documentation for the States’ first Confucius Classroom dedicated to the teaching of Mandarin takes placed at the Lord Mayor’s Office on 12 December.

    The Serisier Learning Centre and the Coady Sports Centre is blessed and opened by Archbishop Hickey on February 7th. On the 12th February Archbishop Timothy Costelloe is appointed as the ninth Bishop of Perth and the sixth Archbishop of Perth. The Confucious Classroom opens for the teaching of Mandarin in May.

    The rededication of St Joseph’s took place on 6th February. The historic building was repaired and restored and a new addition was added. A new bi-annual College magazine, Alegria was launched in May. Sheena Barber, Principal of the College retired. First Christendom Tour.

    Kerrie Fraser commenced as the new Principal of the College. The Wellness Centre was Blessed and the first Camino de Merced walk to New Norcia took place in June.

    170th Anniversary.

    The College’s musical The Little Mermaid was held at The Regal Theatre for the first time from 28-30 July to a capacity crowd of 3200.

    New winter uniform was launched.

    ISMAPNG handed over the Sisters of Mercy Heritage Centre to Mercedes College on Tuesday 11 June. In August 2019 a Heritage Officer is appointed to create a new space to house heritage material in the MHC.

  • 2020

    All schools across Australia and around the world were impacted by COVID-10. WA schools closed two weeks prior to the end of Term 2 as teachers and staff worked furiously to develop Online Learning for the first time in history. The College rose to the occasion with an enviable Online Learning platform which had great success.

    175 Year Anniversary.

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