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 63​0 students from Years 7 to 12 with the students drawn from a wide range of Brisbane suburbs. 


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The Triqueta or Trinity Knot is steeped in history. The shape is one continuous line interwoven symbolising no beginning and no end. Originating in ancient Celtic times, the emergence of the Celts and the use of the knot across Europe is evident in the 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 completely conquered the Celts, pushing them to the fringes of northern Spain, northern France, and Britain. While Celtic imagery and symbols can be found across Europe they are most 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 the 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 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 and 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 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 strives 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.

©Brisbane Catholic Education, Mary MacKillop College (2023)