About St. Mel
St. Mel is the Patron Saint of the Diocese of Ardagh, County Longford, Ireland. Ardagh is also our first Parish Priest, Father O’ Reilly’s home town.
A Cathedral and a College for boys are all dedicated to St. Mel. He is said to have been the son of Conis and Darerca, the sister of St. Patrick, whom he accompanied to Ireland and helped to evangelise in that country. According to the Life of St. Brigid, he is said to have had no fixed See, which might fit in his being a missionary.
St. Patrick himself built the church at Ardagh and to this he appointed his nephew, Mel. Acting upon the apostolic precept, he supported himself by working with his hands, and what he gained beyond bare necessities, he gave to the poor. Saint Mel was St. Patrick’s nephew who brought him to Longford and he was consecrated Bishop by St. Patrick, who declared him first bishop of the Diocese of Ardagh. He was present at the religious profession of St. Brigid of Ireland and gave her the religious veil, and she repaid him by letting him stay at her Convent for a week and gave him a cow for each day he said mass.
St. Mel has only six other Parishes in Australia dedicated to him.
St. Mel’s feast day is February 6.
1955 – St. Mel’s separated from St. Brendan’s and declared a parish.
1956 – Opening of church.
1957 – Opening of School and building of Presbytery.
1960 – Purchase of 3 blocks for tennis courts.
1961 – Purchase of 6 blocks where Presbytery and Church now stand.
1966 – Portable classroom added to school.
1967 – First Parish council.
1968 – Building of Parish hall
1969 – Presbytery converted to a Convent, Kindergarten built and entrusted to the Daughters of Divine Zeal.
1969 – New Presbytery built.
1970 – Opening of Christ the King Church. Purchase of block adjoining Church.
1971 – Purchase of two blocks adjoining School on south for expansion.
1972 – Construction of another three classrooms. First school board elected.
1974 – Parish Council elected by Parishioners.
1975 – Administration block added to school and toilets upgraded. Special English portable classroom added to school.
1976 – Refurbishment of original classrooms. School yard sealed.
1977 – Junior building built.
1978 – Church toilets built.
1980 – Sisters of Mercy Convent opened.
1991 – Mercy Sisters left
1992 – Mr. Bill Wans became first lay principal.
1994 – Administration, library and senior block renovations complete
1996 – 40th Anniversary of school
1997 – Mr. Bill Wans retired
1998 – Mr. Tom Sexton became principal
2000 – New fence built along Archer St.
2001 – Kinder relocated into an old refurbished classroom block
– New grass playground on the site of the old convent / kindergarten
2002 – Major redevelopment of the senior playground
2003 – Two new classrooms
2004 – Two new classrooms and a new toilet block
2007 – Mrs Di O’Brien became principal
2008 – New verandahs built on north and south side of hall
2009 – Hall and junior building demolished
2010 – New classrooms, hall/performing arts centre, music rooms, canteens, meeting rooms built with Building Education Revolution(BER) funding.
2011 – Dom Poppa commenced as prinicipal, kindergarten car park closed and Kiss-and-Go established in Hamilton Street for drop off an dpick up
2012 – Refurished classrooms 7 and 8
2013 – New car park created on old tennis courts by City of Greater Sheparton Council
2014 – Cubby House and nature playground established, refurbished Arts Suite (Performing and Visual Arts Studios), Upper Years Learning Suite (Rooms 12,13,14) and Lower Years Learning Suite (Rooms 9,10,11), land purchased for new Kialla Education Facility accessing funds from Sandhurst Diocese Land Fund.
2015 – Climbing play nets installed, Funding application grant applied for new buildings on northern end of school site, planning for new Kialla Educational Facility.
The Scalabrinian Fathers played a very important role in the development of St. Mel’s Parish. The Scalabrinian arrived in 1962. Fr Corrado Martellozzo was the first Scalabrinian Parish Priest.
The Daughters of Divine Zeal
The Daughters of Divine Zeal arrived in 1969 to establish a kindergarten and child care centre. The kindergarten is still in operation and an integral part of our school community.
Here is a list of some of the Mercy Sisters that worked in St. Mel’s between 1957 and 1991:
- Sr. Margaret Mary Plier R.I.P.
- Sr. Austin Curthoys
- Sr. Denise Donnelly
- Sr. Catherine Daley
- Sr. Alphonsus McCarth
- Sr. M. Liam
- Sr. Ineen Mathers
- Sr. Maureen Loftus
- Sr. Mary Caldwell (Laurence)
- Sr. Elaine Gleeson
- Sr. Stephanie Christian
- Sr. M. Declan
- Sr. Kathlyn O’Brien
- Sr. Malita Burke
- Sr. Anne Cossar
- Sr. Carmel Flanagan
- Sr. Frances O’Leary
St. Mel’s School was opened on Feb 5th, 1957. It was run by the Sisters of Mercy and Sr. Margaret Mary Plier was the first principal of St. Mel’s school, from 1957 to 1960.Seven other Mercy Sisters became principal, before Mr. Bill Wans began in 1992.
Below are the names of the eleven principals that have been at St. Mel’s since it opened in 1957:
- Sr. Margaret Mary Plier, 1957 – 1958
- Sr. Carmel Flanagan, 1959 – 1965
- Sr. Stephanie Christian, 1966 – 1971
- Sr. Maureen Loftus, 1972 – 1976
- Sr. Catherine Daley, 1977 – 1982
- Sr. Kathlyn O’Brien, 1983 – 1988
- Sr. Mary Caldwell 1989 – 1991
- Sr. Austin Curthoys July 1991 – December 1991
- Mr. Bill Wans, 1992 – 1997
- Mr. Tom Sexton, 1998 – 2006
- Mrs Dianne O’Brien 2007 – 2010
- Mr Dom Poppa 2011 – 2017
- Chris Summers 2018 –
Many teachers have helped to build and improve St. Mel’s over the years, some will be remembered for their long lasting commitment to our school and others for the short time they were with us and though they have left St. Mel’s are sure to have moved onto bigger and better things.
The people listed below are some of the many, who have taught and guided the children of St. Mel’s:
Matthew Mann Julie Cobbledick Cathy McMaster Rosemary (Rosie) Horridge Mrs. Florence Marion Thompson
Patricia McConville Judy Tremellen Damian Beasley Mary Thorne Brian Anderson Mrs. Kelleher Chris Munari Joan Beasley
Wendy Darveniza/Baldwin Luisa Cassise Mr. Ryan Mrs. Murray Barbara Brown Dom Poppa Lindsay Weppner Sonia Opie
Mr. Keating Sharon Wilson Mary Thorne Jacqui Mulraney Mavis Murphy Mr. Dyson Mr. Gibson Tony Hoskin Lorraine Spies
Fiona O’Meara Laurel Baxter-Butts Gerard Bourke Kerry Amadei Lauren Calder Katie Asquith / Fitzgerald Robyn Banfield Penny Murdoch Tony McDonald Mandy Christoe Rachel Chenery Andrew Lawler Lisa Cherry / Daff Kim Merkel Maria Newman Alison Wignell Catherine Whitford Lisa Lombardozzi Kim Day Adrian Mancini Laura Emanuelli Nicole Dawson Celie Kelly
Katie Nicholson Tracey Davey Ebony Miller/Anderson Emily Slaughter Melissa Beer Amy Clifford Roslyn Wilson
Carolyn Brodie Jodi Cox Carmel Hutchison Ellie Phillips Kara McCann Maree Findlay Yuko Sasaki Richard Lilford
Early in 1956 construction commenced to build St. Mel’s. The senior block is 165 feet long and 24 feet wide. The crosses on each end of the block are made of stainless steel and are a copy of an ancient cross made of stone from Ireland. The junior building which stands in the south of the school was built in 1977 and was used for classes from prep to grade three. The extensions and refurbishment of St. Mel’s office and meeting rooms opened in November 1994 by Reverend Noel Daly Bishop of Sandhurst. In 2003 and 2004 two new buildings were built to cater for increasing enrolments. Our Prep grades are currently in one of these buildings on the northern section of the school grounds. New verandahs were built in 2008 to create a shady environment for our junior block and provide a sheltered pathway for all students to move from one part of the school to another.
2010 saw an exciting addition to our school, through the Building Education Revolution. The federal government funded a new performing arts centre/parish hall which includes meeting rooms, new canteen, music room and storage rooms. We also have 4 new state of the art classrooms, based on an open design which allows for freedom of movement, visibility and best teaching and learning practice. We moved into these classrooms in Term 4, 2010, and they have been a wonderful addition to our school, providing a new environment to explore and develop a Reggio Emilia philosophy in our Early Years teaching and learning unit.
In 2017 we begun the construction of a new learning suite consisting of six studios, a gallery, gathering space with mezzanine and a number of small withdrawal spaces. The building is due for completion in early 2018.
Once completed the original building will be demolished opening up for green play space.