Our History

Yeronga Parish was established in 1925, with Father Owen Steele as the first Parish Priest. The parish boundaries were the Brisbane River, Oxley Creek and Logan River. This included the suburbs of Waterford, Kingston, Logan Village and Beenleigh. Father Steele’s first task was to identify who his parishioners were and then set about serving them.  He held the first Mass on Sunday 19th April 1925, with regular Masses celebrated each Sunday at 7.15am.  In his book “Altars and Artillery”, Father Steele says – ‘Conditions at first were rather primitive.  We had two rooms knocked into one – with a chimney left in the middle – to form the first church and for pews we had planks resting on kerosene cases.  We could seat about 60.  Finances were limited and Archbishop Duhig invited my mother to become my housekeeper. She agreed to do this for one year – she and my sister Phyllis were to remain on the job with me for 13 years.’  Father Steele served Yeronga Parish for 14 years before joining the navy during World War II. Following the war, he served in the Beaudesert Parish where in 1961 he founded the ‘BoysTown’ charity, which continues to this day.
The brick (Church-School) ‘Chapel of St Sebastian’, Yeronga was solemnly blessed and opened on Sunday 7th February 1937, by his Grace the Archbishop, the most Rev. J. Duhig D.D. The chapel that stands on the corner of Kadumba Street and Rome Street North, however was not the parish’s first home of worship. It was ‘Kadumba House’ (now demolished) that was the parish’s first church. It was purchased by Archbishop Duhig in February 1925 from the Grimes family for 3,165 pounds to provide services for the Catholic residents of Yeronga.
‘Kadumba House’ was a magnificent colonial-style wooden home, designed by architect Richard Gailey and built in 1886.  It was located on a hill top and set within one and a quarter acres of lawns and gardens overlooking the Brisbane River.  For the Yeronga residents, this was the closest church where they could attend mass, as the next closest church was at Dutton Park. ‘Kadumba House’ then became the Presbytery before being used in 1939 as a convent for the Sisters of Saint Joseph.
Over the next 42 years, the convent would be the home of 169 Sisters of Saint Joseph nuns. The Sisters slept on the verandah of the convent which they shared as a dormitory. There was also a kitchen and a few rooms to share. Downstairs provided a laundry and a tuckshop that opened one day a week. The Sisters also shared the convent with the Year three and four classes, which were taught in the ballroom of ‘Kadumba House’.
From these humble beginnings the brick Church-School was built to serve the dual purpose of providing Catholic education for the younger Yeronga children, and the place of worship for the community.  The school was funded by the school fees and the generosity of the local community.
On the 27th January, 1937 Sister Pancratius and Sister Catherine enrolled 38 pupils.  Their ages ranged from four and a half, to thirteen years and by the end of the year the school enrolment had grown to 65 pupils. School fees were sixpence (5c) a week.  The youngest children used slates and the older ones used exercise books ruled in various combinations of lines and squares.  Reading was taught from the little blue Primers, “A cat sat on a mat” and the Queensland Red School Readers, beginning at Grade 1.
From the beginning, and through the 1960’s the Sisters lived very much hand to mouth. Each year a fete and a sports day was held to help fund the Sisters expenses over the Christmas break.  In the 1970’s, Government funding became available to Catholic Education and it was then that major change occurred.
The Church-School is no longer used as permanent classrooms, although during our recent expansion and building program with Father Conroy’s consent, it was used to provide temporary accommodation for classes.  Today, its function is to house the Instrumental Music Programme, Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) for the students and the uniform shop.  Today, the ‘Chapel of St Sebastian’ is used by the school community to hold school and class Liturgies.
As numbers grew steadily within the school, especially within the early years, there was a need for extra room.  The Infant School was built during 1958 to accommodate Years One and Two and was officially opened on the 18th January, 1959.  All costs for the building, 2,950 pounds, were met with the hard efforts of fund raising within the parish as no government grants were available at that time. Money was also saved thanks to the voluntary labour in the parish.  This building was raised in 1967 to allow for two extra classrooms, a Principal’s office, staff rooms and a modern tuckshop underneath.  
After extensive consultation the convent, ‘Kadumba House’, was removed in 1984 to make way for further development and expansion of the school.  The new buildings surrounded three sides of a long rectangle and included three classrooms and a central hall/community area with kitchen facilities.  Covered walkways outside all rooms opened onto a large grassed area with an adventure playground.  The buildings were officially opened and blessed by Bishop James Cuskelly, MSC, on 20th October 1985.  Only one of the buildings from this expansion now remains and these four rooms are currently used as classrooms for Years 1 and 2.  In 1994 the construction of an undercover area was added.
The next major building work was carried out in 2002-2003. ‘The Conroy – Josephite Centre’ was dedicated to Yeronga Priest Father Conroy, and the Sisters of Saint Joseph who founded the school in 1937.  We know it today as the school office and administration building.  This multi-purpose building also serves as classrooms along with the teachers’ staffroom. Anna Bligh, then Minister of Queensland Education, along with Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Oudeman, opened the centre on the 15th August, 2003.
In 2012, with the financial help of the Federal Government Building the Education Revolution (BER) project, the new library block and amenities were built. This block houses the library, student support rooms, teachers’ resource room and three classrooms on the lower level. Not long after the completion of this building, work started on the next stage. This directly flows on from the library building and today we have three classrooms and a large under-croft area which is used each day for a variety of activities, including a covered area where the students eat their lunch and assembly is held. Late 2013 saw the refurbishment of the lower administration block and staffroom. 

2016 saw significant developments in the St Sebastian’s community.  Early in the year, consultation between the parish, Archbishop Mark Coleridge and the Director of Brisbane Catholic Education, Ms. Pam Betts saw the governance of St Sebastian’s School transferred to Brisbane Catholic Education.  Whilst the Archdiocese retains ownership of the land, the responsibility for administration and compliance issues now lies with Brisbane Catholic Education.  The pastoral relationship between the parish, the priest and the school continues to work in partnership.   In 2016, after 39 years of dedicated pastoral care and service, the Parish Priest of St Sebastian’s, Father Peter Conroy, retired from his position. Rev. Josekutty Vadekkel was appointed.  .  His time in the Parish will conclude in 2019.  We welcomed Fr Saji George as Parish Priest in 2020.   

Our school community looks forward to maintaining and further developing close ties for the benefit of all. ​



 © Brisbane Catholic Education, St Sebastian's Catholic Primary School (2024)​​