Catherine McAuley, from a devout Irish Catholic family, was adopted by a wealthy family following her mother’s death. After being bequeathed a portion of money Catherine set about establishing a house of mercy to care for Dublin’s poor. Others were inspired to follow and soon the Order of the Sisters of Mercy(1831) was established. In 1846 the first Sisters of Mercy arrived in Australia.
Shortly after the erection of the church in Harvey in 1932, the question of a Catholic school in the parish was raised. The Mercy community in Bunbury responded to the call and took up residence in the weatherboard ‘temporary’ building transported on jinkers from Bunbury in November 1934. On Sunday 25th November 1934 the ‘new’ convent was blessed and opened with great ceremony by Archbishop Prendeville.
The School was opened in 1935 with 42 pupils and rose to 61 by the end of the first year. From its humble beginnings in 1935 the school has provided education for many hundreds of children. This has at times been difficult with the multicultural nature introduced in 1937.
In 1938 G. Worner, Inspector of Education was recorded as saying that ‘the school had ample accommodation now that the church was available. More than half of the children have arrived within the past two years from Southern Europe. A few recent arrivals are only able to speak Italian.’
The school was the only school in the Harvey district that taught up to Leaving Standards when no other secondary education was available. Despite all the language problems many pupils have done well and hold pride of place in the Harvey Community in the fields of agriculture, banking, surveying, law and business. Sister M. Beatrice was reported as saying, ‘it was all we had and of course, you did the best with what was available,’ after one Education Inspector examined her class of 72 and was heard saying: ‘You are a marvel.’
The school was eventually re-located to its present site because of the buildup of pupil population that is still going on today. From its humble beginnings, the school has grown to be a valuable educational institution.
St. Anne’s still continues to educate its pupils in the 3R’s with a strong emphasis on literacy through integrated programmes of teaching. It provides programmes of special education, carefully planned modern Catechetics and a constant example of generous caring and sharing of both personal and spiritual gifts. Through this we are helping the child to find his or her place in this world as a person of faith. On the sporting field we compete to a high standard and encourage strong parental involvement in all areas of the educative process.