A brief history of St Gabriel’s

Archbishop Michael Kelly, the fourth Archbishop of Sydney founded St Gabriel's School.

Inspired by the work being done by the Christian Brothers at the Cabra Deaf Boys School in Ireland, Archbishop Kelly wanted the same for the deaf boys of Australia. Our historical timeline is as follows:

1920 The Christian Brothers found a suitable property in Sydney on which to establish the school at Castle Hill. Southleigh consisted of "a fine old residence, a cottage nearer the road and 35 acres of good land".

1922 June 10,  two Irish Christian Brothers, Brother Joseph O’Farrell and Brother Damien Allen from the Cabra School arrived in Sydney with plans for the new building and years of experience teaching and caring for the deaf.

July 10, the first sod was turned in the erection of the school at St Gabriel's.

September 10, the foundation stone for the first block of buildings was blessed by Archbishop Kelly and the first student Patrick Kenna took up residence.

1923  On Sunday May 6, the School was formally opened by Archbishop Kelly. There were 28 pupils.

1937 A fire destroyed the original Southleigh homestead which was the Brothers’ residence, The building was over 80 years old. A new residence was constructed.

1940 An additional 16 acres of adjoining land was purchased in Marie Street.

1947 Silver Jubilee of St Gabriel’s was celebrated.

1948 Helen Keller visits St Gabriel’s School.

1957 A new hall was completed.

1960 Additional building works were completed and by 1961 there were 75 boys.

1969 Cued Speech was introduced.

1972 Golden Jubilee of St Gabriel’s was celebrated.

1973 The School changed from a residential day school for deaf boys to a co-educational day school. The first female students were admitted in 1973.

1976 An integration program was introduced where students attended St Gabriel's in the morning and their local mainstream school for the afternoon. The Early Intervention Unit (EIU) was established.

1979 St Gabriel’s School is moved from the old buildings, down the drive to a new building and Gilroy Catholic College was established in the old buildings. The “new” St Gabriel’s was officially opened in September.

1982 The Diamond Jubilee of St Gabriel’s was celebrated.

1984 Br Alan Kelly and Mrs Sue Robinson worked towards gaining registration for St Gabriel’s as a Secondary School.

1994 Elizabeth Kerr became the first layperson and first woman Principal.

2007 Edmund Rice Education Australia (EREA) is formed and takes on responsibility for the schools previously operated by the Christian Brothers.

2009 The Early Intervention Unit for hearing impaired students was closed as the school focused on providing primary school education.

2010 Criteria for admission was widened to include students with Intellectual Disability and Autism. The number of students is 20. 

2012  St Gabriel’s community celebrates 90 years. Bishop Anthony Fisher OP conducts Mass in the School's Sacred space followed by a fete and market stalls. 

2013 Major building works commenced to upgrade the interior of the building, create a new Open Learning Space, Library Space and school reception.

2016 New Strategic Plan 2017-2020 is developed. Mr Jon Franzin joins as Principal.

2017 The new sensory playground is built. New Master Plan is developed.

2018 Portable classrooms are in place for the commencement of Secondary School.

2019 Year 7 students commence Secondary School.

2020 Year 7 and 8 students through Secondary School.  Major building works commence for the new Secondary School space located where the Brother's residents stood.

2021  Year 7, 8 and 9 students through Secondary School.

2022  The School is Kindergarten to Year 10. The Secondary School building is almost complete and is occupied whilst the Primary School and Hall are constructed. Mr Michael Farrell joins as Principal.