In a letter dated 7th August 1917, Bishop John Carroll (Bishop of Lismore) expressed his gratitude to the Superior General of the Sisters of the Good Samaritan, that the Community of Sisters would make a foundation at Macksville in 1918. He stated that a suitable house for a convent had been obtained, and the Church would be used as a church school. He wrote that Macksville was the place to be pioneered and hoped that sixty (60) children would be enrolled in the first week. The school was to serve children from Kindergarten to Intermediate.
Catholic education has been part of the Valley since 1905. However, Macksville saw the opening of St Patrick’s School on July 8, 1918 when the Sisters of the Good Samaritan enrolled forty-six students. Infants were taught in Fr. Colohan’s car shed and the older children in the old church. According to Good Samaritan archives, “Fr Durkin, the Parish Priest, had ensured that everything was in readiness for the opening of the school. The school requisites were complete. The Sisters were provided with every book they needed and great hopes of future success were entertained by all. The children were very excited that the Sisters had finally commenced teaching at the school”. The first school was built and opened in 1928. Students came from Nambucca Valley and included borders from outlying areas.
The Good Samaritan Sisters continued teaching in the Parish for the next thirty-five years. On 29th January 1954 the Sisters of Mercy from Grafton began teaching at Macksville with 150 pupils. The school had been separated from the church, the new structure being built on the corner of what is now, Wallace and Boundary Streets. Extensions for an infants school were planned and constructed in 1956. In 1957 there were 250 names listed for enrolment from Kinder to Year 10. This building is still part of our school today. At the end of 1965 the high school was closed.
The convent ceased being the nuns’ home in 2003. This building is now used for our music lessons, band, liturgy meetings and some P & F Meetings.
In 1975, St Patrick’s Church was built next to the school. In 1980 extensions to the school building for the new Junior school classrooms were completed.
The first lay Principal was appointed in 1991 after the Sisters of Mercy withdrew administration and full-time presence in 1990. Their presence was maintained in the school until 1998.
In 1994 extensions were planned for the old site of St Patrick’s School with emphasis on providing an appropriate administration section for the school. At the same time provision was made for wet areas and the re-carpeting of the primary classrooms.
In 2014, a building project commenced to relocate St Patrick’s School to a Greenfields site 3.5 km south of the old site. The building project was completed at the end of 2015. The new school opened on the new site at the beginning of 2016.
The centenary of St Patrick’s Primary School was celebrated in March, 2019. Two days of festivities were held to commemorate the occasion, with present and former staff, students and parents attending. Many events were held during the two-day celebration, including the planting of a Jacaranda Tree in honour of the Mercy Order, Centenary Prayer Service, time capsule, olden day games, tours of the school and a memorabilia display in the library. Bishop Gregory Homeming celebrated the Centenary Mass and the celebrations concluded with a Centenary Dinner at the Macksville Ex-Services Club.
The school still enjoys the support of the Nambucca Valley community and its immediate environs.