History of Our Lady Help of Christians
The recognition that South Lismore is a significant community in its own right, dates back many years.
Work began on the first Church – school in South Lismore in 1916, on the site presently occupied by the Parish Hall in Rhodes Street. The foundation stone of that building was blessed by Bishop J Carroll on December 16th 1917. The children were taught by the Presentation Sisters from 1917 to 1924.
On March 16th 1924, the foundation stone of the present St. Josephs Convent in Rhodes St. was laid by Bishop Carroll. Work progressed rapidly and the convent was opened on July 13th 1924. The Sisters of St. Joseph arrived soon afterwards to take over the running of the school. 1924 saw 86 pupils enrolled and it became a complete Primary School.
The school was built by voluntary labour adjacent to the Convent and opened in October 1931 with the only mechanical assistance available being motor lorries donated by Terania and Gundarimba Shires and Hensley’s. These transported gravel from the Three Chain Road Quarry to fill the swampy site on which the school was being constructed.
At the beginning of 1932 the new school was occupied. There were 167 children enrolled, taught by four sisters, with one sister teaching music.
In 1939 the Parish of South Lismore was established. Its first Parish Priest was Father Daniel Frances McGrath, a man of exceptional talent and a tireless worker for the Parish. He instilled into the parishioners a strong sense of identity, pride and loyalty to their Parish which is still much in evidence today.
The dedicated support of the Parish Priests who have succeeded Father McGrath also needs to be recognised. They are Fathers Mill, Leonard, Troy (dec) Galavan (dec) and our present Parish Priest ,Father Peter Karam.
In 1958 the building was raised a complete storey allowing the creation of a ground floor assembly hall and tuckshop.
In the early 1960’s two new classrooms were added to cater for larger enrolments in secondary school, however in 1965, with the advent of the Wyndham Scheme, the secondary department of O.L.H.C was closed.
A decline in the availability of sufficient religious order members to fill teaching positions in the Catholic schools resulted in the employment of lay-teachers. This dedicated band of teachers has continued the fine traditions established by the Sisters of St. Joseph. The Sisters of St. Joseph ended their association with the school in 1993 but maintained a presence in the Parish until December 1998.
In 1993 the school population increased to 132 pupils. This necessitated the building of two additional classrooms, completely financed from Parish sources. These classrooms were occupied towards the end of 1993.
During the years 2000 and 2001 the school underwent a million-dollar refurbishment enabling the school to offer a modern teaching / learning environment for all staff and students. The administration and library area have been relocated into the building that was previously the convent.
The Josephite Order has played an important part in providing Catholic education in the South Lismore Parish.
We at Our Lady Help of Christians School, are the inheritors of the traditions of Mary MacKillop and the Josephite community, which she established. Josephite life finds its roots in the commitment, courage and compassion associated with those women whose vision takes them on a journey of witness to the spiritual dimension present on earth.
They live in close relationship with the people among whom they work, sharing spirituality, education and new possibilities for life.
“God’s presence seems to follow me everywhere”. (Mary MacKillop 1870).
The maintenance of these values allows the school to enjoy an excellent reputation in the community. We are indebted to our clergy, parents and dedicated staff members who enable our ideals and traditions to be passed down to each successive generation.
“With God on our side, what need we fear?” (Mary MacKillop,1890).