Mission & History


The College was officially opened as a day school in 1964 by the Sisters of St. Joseph and was first known as Mt. St. Joseph’s Students Secondary School. In 1970 the name was changed to Corpus Christi College to avoid confusion with other schools in the area. In 2009, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Mary MacKillop's death and canonisation, the Sisters of St Joseph renamed the College, Mary MacKillop College.
The Sisters of St. Joseph are a Religious Order founded in Australia in 1866 by our first Australian Saint, Mary MacKillop. In keeping with the spirit of the foundress, Josephite schools continue to have a strong emphasis on faith, community and pastoral care as well as on an education suited to the needs of today.
Today the College has an enrolment of approximately 500 and its students are drawn from a wide range of Brisbane suburbs. The school caters for girls in Years 7 to 12 and has a teaching staff of 35.


Mary MacKillop College is founded on the traditions of Mary MacKillop and the Sisters of St Joseph who promote:
 • The dignity of each person
 • Equality of opportunity 
 • Great trust in God
The College responds to the call of Jesus to spread the Good News and does so in its educational mission.
The College Community has commitment to:
 • Education of young women in a Catholic context
Each student is encouraged to grow in her awareness of the sacredness of herself and of all Creation.  In participating in this journey in the College context, students are encouraged to build on and grow into right relationship with all.
 • A holistic education that is diverse and dynamic
Mary MacKillop College, a community inclusive of everyone as gift, is open to a discernment of and response to the fullest educational needs of its students.  This is pursued through a commitment to dialogue with students and their families in a context that is professional, intelligent, informed, impassioned, and Spirit-based. 
 • A community of difference
Mary MacKillop College promotes the truth that educated and enabled young women are great contributors to life on Earth. The     community is dedicated through them to such values as equality of opportunity, justice, respect and tolerance. The community is embodied and defined in their passion for life, eagerness to do good, and in their powerful feminine presence.  


Mary MacKillop College, a Catholic Girls' Secondary College situated at Nundah, is committed to excellence in education for young women. The College, founded by the Sisters of St Joseph caters for the diversity of needs of young women by providing an education that realizes the dream of Mary MacKillop - true education resides in the hearts, minds and strengths of each person as they journey to wholeness. The College has approximately 500 students and will remain a middle sized school so that the intimacy of each student being known and recognised as particular gift will always be a key facet of the school's character.
As a Catholic school for young women, the community is committed to the learning and spirit of woman. The curriculum, spirituality, artistic and scholastic expression, relationships, culture, planning for the future and living of life now all give credence to feminine visions and capacities.
In keeping with the spirit of Mary MacKillop, founder of the Order of the Sisters of St Joseph, the College continues to have a strong emphasis on faith, community and pastoral care as well as on an education suited to the needs of the times. Mary MacKillop College aims to provide the environment, the resources and the freedom for each young women to grow towards her full potential in all aspects of her life, whether intellectual, physical, social or spiritual. It aims to help prepare young women to take their places in the world proudly and confidently and to lead them to an awareness of all the options the world has to offer.
Mary MacKillop College is at the forefront of curriculum development with programs attuned to the individual needs of students. The College is committed to the implementation of a Middle School Curriculum so that students can make an easy transition from primary school to secondary school.
The College seeks to immerse students in the knowledge, practices and dispositions necessary to operate effectively in information rich environments. Students are provided with a computer as part of the College's one-to-one laptop program and are engaged in the transformation of data to information, information to knowledge and knowledge to wisdom in all areas of the curriculum.
In addition to the range of extra-curricular and co-curricular activities that form part of the normal school life, the College offers a number of extended opportunities in university studies, work placements, school-based apprenticeships and traineeships. Students are able to awaken their potential, explore the richness of life's opportunities and confront issues through the College's Learning and Enrichment Faculty, Career Advisor and Counsellor.


The Triqueta or Trinity Knot is steeped in history. The shape is one continuous line interwoven symbolizing not beginning and no end. It originates in ancient Celtic times. The emergence of the Celts across Europe is evident in Bronze and Iron Ages. By 400 BCE, they existed in what is today, Austria, Britain, France, Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Northern Spain (Galacia), Turkey and Hungary. Over a 250 year period until 60 CE, The Romans has completely conquered the Celts, pushing them to the fringes of northern Spain, northern France and Britain. Celtic imagery and symbols can be found across Europe but it is notably associated with Celtic Britain (Ireland, Scotland and Wales).

The number three was significant to the world of the Celts: three stages of life; the three domains of earth, sea and sky; as well as the past, present and future. The same numerical significance existed for the Christian faith and therefore the Celtic Knot was adopted as one of its symbols and aligned perfectly with the concept of Trinity.

The College adopted the symbol when it became Mary MacKillop College in 2009. The symbol’s Celtic origin is another link to Mary MacKillop who had a Scottish heritage. The top of the emblem shows a stylized flame that speaks to us of our motto, My Faith is My Light and the passionate engagement with life and learning that we foster in the hearts and minds of the young women of Mary MacKillop College. In spiritual terms it is the symbol of the Trinity and prosperity. In its interconnected an unbroken symmetry it represents the triads of: Spirit, Mind and Body; Power, Intellect and Love; Past, Present and Future. When the symbol is in full colour of red, green and yellow, it represents the triad unity of the College Houses: Fitzroy, Penola and McCormack, which again links to the fabric of the MacKillop story.​


Mary MacKillop, the eldest of eight children to a Scottish migrant couple, was born in Fitzroy (Victoria) in 1842. After completing a basic education, she found work as a governess in Penola (South Australia). In 1860, Mary met Father Julian Tenison Woods, an intelligent and flamboyant priest, with whom Mary shared a common concern for the children of local settlers, deprived of educational opportunity. It wasn't until 1866 that Mary was sufficiently free of family obligations to begin her life's work: the Institute of the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart. From very humble beginnings in a disused stable, the Sisters first school flourished and Fr Tenison Woods was subsequently appointed diocesan Director of Education in Adelaide.
At the age of 33, Mary MacKillop became Superior General of the Institute. In that role, she found herself doing battle with several of the local bishops and, at one stage, was temporarily excommunicated from the Catholic Church. Mary and her Sisters pioneered the Catholic education system as we know it today. Between 1869 and 1890 the Sisters had established convents in Brisbane, Bathurst, Sydney, Armidale, Victoria and New Zealand in addition to those already operating under their care in South Australia.
The Sisters of St Joseph were founded to teach the poor; the Institute was open to anyone who felt herself called, regardless of background or education; their convents were poor and simple, and they relied on alms for their material needs.
Mary epitomises qualities that Australians value and strive for, and lived with integrity by consistently expressing these qualities. Mary's pragmatism was balanced by compassion; she was down to earth, and yet deeply spiritual, even mystical; she was brave, and could be brutally honest, but always humble; firm and disciplined; she was impatient of blind and harsh authoritarianism. Her clear vision of the emerging Australian spirit and of Australian needs triumphed over the unbalanced Irishness and brash sectarianism of her age.
Mary suffered a stroke in New Zealand in 1901, and died in Sydney on August 8, 1909.
"Without doubt, hers was a spirit of deep faith, strong trust and courage undaunted by the most turbulent of trials and tribulation"
Sr Giovanni Farquer rsj (Former Congregational Leader), August 2000
More information about Mary MacKillop's story can be found at Mary MacKillop Place and at Mary MacKillop Penola Centre.


To make a donation to the Sisters of St Joseph / Mary MacKillop Scholarship Fund, please complete the donation form and return to the College Office.
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Images of Mary MacKillop used throughout this site have been supplied with the express permission of the Trustees of the Sisters of St Joseph.