On Sunday 20 January 1889, Bishop Reynolds, Head of Catholic Diocese of Adelaide, blessed and opened a Mission School in Young Street Parkside for 130 children. The next day the Sisters of Mercy began teaching at the school. The school was used for educational purposes during the week and for church services on Sundays.
The Sisters who taught at the school travelled daily by horse-drawn vehicle from their convent in Angas Street, until December 1896, when they moved into a rented house in Young Street. In 1899 a house on Glen Osmond Road was purchased from George Joshua Macklin, a boot maker, for £825, a school hall was erected, and it became St Philomene’s School for young ladies, while Boys continued to be taught in the Mission School in Young Street. These female students were taught elocution, music and ballroom dancing. Choral work and concerts were considered an important part of the education for the young ladies in attendance.
By 1921 the school was operating as a school for boys in Young Street, a primary and secondary school for girls who could afford fees at 112 Glen Osmond Road and a school for underprivileged children at that same property. On 15 November 1921, Archbishop Robert Spence blessed the foundation stone for the convent on Glen Osmond Road.
The Boy’s school in Young Street was closed at the end of 1923, an extra room was added to St Philomene’s and St Raphael’s Catholic School began at 112 Glen Osmond Road. The school catered for the education of both boys and girls with a secondary school to be known as the St Philomene’s Ladies Academy. The St Philomene’s Ladies Academy continued through the 1930’s but in the 1940’s was discontinued, with the focus put firmly on general education.
In the 1960’s a television set was installed in the school and saw some real innovations in traditional teaching methods as the novelty of lessons using this media were introduced. As the school grew in numbers, more land was purchased at 114 Glen Osmond Road and a larger playground area was built in 1961 with help from the local community.
The Mothers Club started in the 1930’s as a fundraising group for the school. The Club created Christmas Hampers and provided the Sisters with much needed teaching amenities. In the 1960’s they would gather on Monday mornings to knead flour and shortening to make pies and pasties for the children’s lunches. In the 1980’s the group changed its name to the Parent’s and Friends Association, so that fathers and parishioners could also become involved in the school.
The Sisters of Mercy continued to head the school until 1985 when the Catholic Education Office appointed Mr Michael Kenny as the first lay Principal. By the end of 1986, The Sisters of Mercy ended their 97 years of leadership at the school as Sister Kathryn Travers, the last teaching Sister of Mercy, left the school.
Today, St Raphael's Catholic School stands proudly on the strong foundation of strength and foresight established over a century ago by the caring Sisters of Mercy. Named for St Raphael the Archangel whose name means ‘God has healed’, our school has a long and rich history and continues to develop and evolve to ensure all in our community have access to an excellent Catholic Education.