In 1866 St Mary of the Cross MacKillop co-founded, with Father Julian Tenison Woods, a new religious order in Penola, South Australia – The Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart. Mary MacKillop had committed her life to servicing God; her vision was to establish an organisation to provide care for the poor.
Mary endured many difficult times – through them all her faith remained strong. In 1875 her dream became a reality, the Constitutions of the order were accepted and Mary MacKillop was elected Superior General of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart.
The Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart are well known throughout Australia for their immense contributions to society in the areas of education, nursing and pastoral care.
In 1901 Mary MacKillop returned to Sydney to continue her work. In the same year concern for the Catholic education of children in the Newport area led to the opening of the Newport school in August 1901. A wooden building from Williamstown was erected next to the church in Newcastle Street.
The Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart were asked by the Parish Priest of Williamstown, Rev. Thomas Brazil to staff the school and Sr. Camilla Doran was installed by Mary MacKillop as the first Principal: she also taught the senior classes. Sr. Frances de Sales Connolly taught the middle school classes and a postulant was in charge of the infant school.
The Sisters came each day from Williamstown, sometimes by train but more often on foot across the fields, as neither of the local railway stations were close to their destination.
Since the turn of the century the Sisters have provided educational leadership at Sacred Heart School until 2000 with Sr Jennifer Sanders being the last Sister to be Principal of the school. Ms Joan Jansen was appointed the first lay Principal in 2001 a position she held until 2012.
The clientele of our school has changed substantially since the early days. Religious staff have made way for lay teachers, yet the early traditions and values still form an integral part of the Sacred Heart School philosophy.
Our current Principal, Mrs Kaylene Carlin, continues the work initiated by the Sisters of St. Joseph as he leads our school community into the 21st century.