Pope John Paul II opens Catholic Education Centre Categories: Documents, Leadership, Religious Orders Timelines: Historical Timeline

The buildings and grounds that are home to Catholic Education Western Australia are steeped in the rich history of the Catholic tradition in Western Australia.

Formerly known as the Catholic Education Centre, Catholic Education Western Australia’s head office in West Leederville was opened by Pope John Paul II on 30 November 1986 – the only building in Australia to have been opened by a reigning 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.”

Today, it is central to Catholic Education Western Australia’s delivery of Catholic education across the state’s four Catholic dioceses ­– Broome, Bunbury, Geraldton and Perth – educating 78,000 young people in 163 schools and colleges across WA.

The original buildings were the former home of the Sisters of Good Shepherd, built in stages from 1903 to the 1920s. The first building, built of brick and Cottesloe stone and designed by architect Richard Joseph Dennehy, was first occupied on 21 September 1904. The Sisters offered prayer, example, kindness and devotion to the moral and social re-education of girls and women placed in their charge.

The Chapel of St Michael the Archangel, built in 1938, is situated within the grounds of the Catholic Education Centre. Built in the neo-gothic architectural style to accommodate the seating of seventy nuns, it is today the focus of liturgical life for staff at Catholic Education Western Australia and a highly popular venue for weddings.