Emmanuel History

Emmanuel College - A history of innovation

From the earliest days of its history, Emmanuel College has always been a forward-looking school.

Emmanuel was born in 1991 when its two predecessor schools, St Ann’s and CBC joined to create a new and progressive co-educational College.


St Ann’s and CBC share a similar beginning. In many ways the story of the two schools is a story of overcoming adversity, making the most of opportunities and creating a strong sense of community.


Mother M. Philomene Maguire arrived in Warrnambool in 1872, after a long sea voyage, equipped only with a few belongings and with the knowledge she would probably never see her family or home again. Mother Philomene had accepted an invitation to set up a Sisters of Mercy community and a school in the town.


This school that eventually became known as St Ann’s was extraordinarily innovative. It was only in the previous year of 1871 that girls had been allowed to sit for the Matriculation exam for the first time. Yet the Sisters provided a broad and worldly education that expanded the horizons of girls living in a small town.


In 1902 Brother Egan arrived with only his suitcase, after being instructed only three days previously to set up a Brothers’ community and a school. Again the local community responded generously with time and finances and the school soon opened with 104 boys enrolled and for the next 80 years was known as CBC.


By 1990 the Australian educational landscape was dramatically different to that of the 1870s. Across Australia single sex schools began to open their doors to both genders, or combined to operate as a single coeducational facility. The same conversations occurred in Warrnambool and in 1991 Emmanuel College was born.


Emmanuel College has been on an amazing journey since its inception. Much has changed since our founders accepted the challenges given to them. They would be entirely unfamiliar with the type of learning that takes place in the schools they built.


They would also be surprised at the largely secular nature of Australian society where the challenge for the contemporary Catholic school is to continue to embody the Gospel values of its founders in a way that students find relevant and relatable. The enduring Emmanuel College values of Faith, Hope and Love remain as important today as they were in 1872.