Our History

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After humble beginnings in Western Australia in the 1840s, the Catholic Education system in Western Australia today provides a dynamic, student centred approach to education for approximately 72,000 young people in 163 schools and colleges across the state of Western Australia.

Catholic Education in WA is comprised of four regions Broome, Bunbury, Geraldton and Perth that correlate to the four dioceses of Western Australia. However our education system is a single, state-based system and is unique to Catholic Education in Australia.

The four Catholic dioceses in Western Australia and their Bishops mandate a single entity, the Catholic Education Commission of Western Australia and its administrative arm, Catholic Education Western Australia to oversee Catholic Education throughout the length and breadth of Western Australia.

The CEWA is situated on the hill in West Leederville and has occupied the site since 1986. It was formerly the home to the Sisters of the Good Shepherd who worked to support the social and education needs of women and girls since their beginnings in Perth in 1902. The buildings and grounds are beautifully maintained and the adjacent chapel is a popular wedding venue.

The book Continuity in Change by Phillip Pendal looks at the journey of Catholic Education in Western Australia (1843-2008).

Our Building

Located high on the hill in West Leederville, the buildings which comprise the Catholic Education Centre were established in stages from 1903 to the 1920s by the Good Shepherd Sisters. The original buildings were designed by architect Richard Joseph Dennedy. Built of brick and Cottesloe stone, the building was first occupied on 21 September 1904.

In 1905, an industrial-sized laundry was constructed. The large kitchens within the convent provided a catering service for hospitals and although the main purpose of the laundry was also to provide a service for the hospitals many of the principal hotels and cafes, including some private families, were sending their laundry also.

The Good Shepherd's mode of operation was through prayer, example, kindness and devotion to the moral and social re-education of girls and women placed in their charge who needed protection, support and guidance. In 1985 the convent was purchased by the Archdiocese of Perth. Extensive structural work, restoration and refurbishment were undertaken during the following year.

Catholic Education Centre

The Catholic Education Centre was opened by Pope John Paul II on 30 November 1986 and is the only building in Australia to have been opened by a Pope. During the official opening His Holiness prayed: "May this centre always be a home of truth and wisdom, of faith and goodwill toward all - may it be of service to the community and work to build your kingdom of justice, light and peace".

The centre hosts a wide range of activities that serve educational requirements of all its people with more than 30,000 people visiting the centre each year.

Edwardian GardensĀ 

The magnificent grounds of the Catholic Education Centre are an essential part of the heritage value of the complex. The existing gardens to the south side are one of a handful of largely intact Edwardian gardens in Perth.

Their retention was a design consideration in the reconstruction, and led to the decision to create a new entrance to the rear (north) of the complex and for parking to be kept to the north and west.

The Good Shepherd Stained Glass Window

In 1957 the Sisters removed the beautiful stained glass window on the first floor for ventilation purposes. The damaged window was stored under the chapel for some years, then given to an antique dealer in York.

The dealer kept it for 33 years until it was recognised by the Principal at New Norcia College (Sr Marie-Therese Flemming sgs) in 1990, who believed it belonged to the Good Shepherd Convent at Leederville.

The antique dealer had actually restored the window for sale in 1989. The window was purchased by Michael King on behalf of Catholic Education Western Australia. After purchase and repair, the stained glass window was restored to its original place in 1991.

Chapel of St Michael of the Archangel

Situated within the grounds of the Catholic Education Centre, is the Chapel of St Michael the Archangel which was built in 1938 in the neo-gothic architectural style to accommodate the seating of seventy nuns.

Today it is the focus of the liturgical life for the personnel at the Catholic Education Centre and has become a very popular venue for weddings.

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