‘We stand on the shoulders of giants.'

Notre Dame College is proud of its Mercy and Marist heritage and takes great care to maintain the spirit of its founders.

Our History

Educating the young people of Shepparton and surrounding regions for over 120 years, our story is a rich tapestry of three Catholic secondary colleges woven together as one.

The Sisters of Mercy established Sacred Heart College in February 1902, catering for students aged five to seventeen years old.

The St Brendan's church building (built in 1878) had been destroyed by fire a year prior to the nuns’ arrival and rebuilt on adjacent land. This allowed for the structural remains to be renovated into a provisional school building for the Sisters to conduct their classes.

School in this era went from 8:30am until 5:00pm, with classes also happening on Saturday mornings.

In 1903, the College began accepting enrolments for boarders. Limited transport and no school buses meant that students who lived in localities as close as Kialla and Mooroopna would have to board.

By 1916, enrolments were flourishing and the College needed more room for classes and accommodation for boarders.

The school building was replaced, with special attention paid to preserving and integrating remaining parts of the original church into the construction of the new building’s exterior (this is still able to be distinguished today).

A new convent (the current college reception building) was built in the following year. The £3000 cost of the build was paid entirely from money raised by the nuns.

Continual expansion saw many new buildings emerge over the following four decades.

The post-WWII decade created challenges for the Sisters running Sacred Heart College. Enrolments doubled and an increase in students remaining enrolled beyond Merit (Year 8 equivalent) led to a significant strain on the capacity and resources.

This was amplified further when school buses and accessible transport diminished the need for students to board, which meant families paid much less in school fees, heavily impacting College income.

There was no government funding for non-state schools at this time.

A new Catholic secondary school, St Colman’s College, opened in 1951 by the Marist Brothers, catering only for boys. The perception at the time was that a single-sex school would better serve the needs of young men.

The boys enrolled at Sacred Heart transferred across to St Colman’s, establishing Sacred Heart as an all-girls school.

St Colman’s classes were conducted in a two-room portable classroom which had been erected behind St Brendan’s church, until 1959 when the new school building opened directly opposite Sacred Heart College.

Extensive building projects continued to cater for the rapidly increasing enrolments.

Both Colleges shared the mission of providing Catholic education to the young people of greater Shepparton, and worked together for various events and programs, but operated under completely separate administrations with different financial contributors.

Sacred Heart was operated by the Sisters of Mercy, whereas St Colman’s was a parish school. Discussions about merging the schools took place for many years, but not everyone was on board.

In 1975, the senior classes from both schools were combined. This had its ups and downs, but it continued toward a successful outcome with the formal announcement in April 1983 that Sacred Heart and St Colman’s would amalgamate.

The new co-educational College commenced operation in the following year.

Notre Dame College hit the ground running. The new school was able to offer a wider curriculum and academic results were outstanding.

The first year saw plenty of sporting success, with a particular highlight being a win for the football team at zone.

Although not without its teething problems, the union of Sacred Heart and St Colman’s to form Notre Dame College proved to be overwhelmingly successful.


List of College Principals

Principals at Sacred Heart College

1978Sr. Margaret Dennett
Sr. Helen Delaney

Principals at St. Colman's College

1951Br. Bernard McGann
Br. Canice O'Donnell

Br. Celsius Lyons

Br. Lucian Gerber

Br. Ernest Gleeson

Br. Clement Stephens

Br. James Jolley

Br. Joseph Heinrich

Br. Gerard Toohey

Principals at Notre Dame College

1984Br. Gerard Toohey

Br. Columbanus Pratt

Br. Peter Walsh (Term 4)

Mr. Peter White

Mr. John Cortese