McCarthy Catholic College, Tamworth

McCarthy Catholic College is an independent Roman Catholic co-educational secondary day school located in Tamworth, New South Wales, Australia.[1] McCarthy Catholic College was formed in 2000 through the amalgamation of Our Lady of the Rosary College (7-10) and McCarthy Catholic Senior High School (11-12), both previously in Tamworth. The college is administered by the Catholic Education Office of the Diocese of Armidale.

McCarthy Catholic College, Tamworth
McCarthy Catholic College logo.png
East Tamworth, Tamworth, New South Wales

Coordinates31°04′19″S 150°55′09″E / 31.071945°S 150.919053°E / -31.071945; 150.919053Coordinates: 31°04′19″S 150°55′09″E / 31.071945°S 150.919053°E / -31.071945; 150.919053
Former names
  • Our Lady of the Rosary College
  • McCarthy Catholic Senior High School
School typeIndependent co-educational secondary day school
MottoReceive, Worship, Serve
DenominationRoman Catholic
Established2000; 21 years ago (2000)
OversightRoman Catholic Diocese of Armidale
PrincipalGeoff McManus
Campus typeRegional
Colour(s)Navy, white and yellow


McCarthy Catholic College is a co-educational Catholic high school for students in years 7 to 12. It was formed in 2000 through the amalgamation of Our Lady of the Rosary College (7-10)[citation needed] and McCarthy Catholic Senior High School (11-12). McCarthy Catholic College continues the traditions in Catholic education of the Dominican Sisters and Christian Brothers, who contributed to the culture of both former schools.


McCarthy's Logo is a combination of the Chiro Cross; the Southern Cross and the official McCarthy colours of navy, white and gold. The Chiro Cross is recognized as the symbol of Christ. In the Greek alphabet, Chi and Rho are the first two letters in Christ. They are represented by the letter X written over the letter P. The McCarthy logo is a variation of those two letters combined.[2] The terms Receive, Worship and Serve are part of the McCarthy Catholic College Mission Statement.


The land on which the school is built was first inhabited by the Gamilaraay people and we are indebted to them for the care of the land. The site was used from 1975 to 1999 by McCarthy Catholic Senior High School (MCSH). The name McCarthy celebrates the life of Timothy McCarthy who was the first resident priest in the New England Region (1853-1864) and who demonstrated a keen interest in the education and well being of children.


Father Timothy McCarthyEdit

Father Timothy McCarthy was born in 1829 in Ballinhassig, County Cork, Ireland. After he completed his schooling he studied law for 3 years, but later transferred to study Theology and Philosophy at St Patrick's College, Carlow, in his preparation for the priesthood. He was ordained in 1852 and was persuaded by an Australian priest visiting Ireland to relocate to Australia. In September 1853, after a few months in Sydney he was moved to Armidale.

At only 24 years of age, he became the first priest of New England and the North Coast, with a huge parish to cover. A fine horseman, but with no bush experience, and with only a meagre salary, he ministered to the people of the many communities, often as the only priest for more than 200 miles. One of his projects was the building of the first St Nicholas' Church in Tamworth. His interest in education was reflected in his assistance in establishing a school in Armidale, and in promoting the Armidale Reading Society.

He covered long distances over rough tracks across and down the ranges, and he showed determination and courage in fulfilling the demanding role given to him. It was not surprising that the motto chosen for the school first named for him (McCarthy Catholic Senior High School) should be the McCarthy family motto Forti et fideli nil difficile (To the strong and the faithful, nothing is difficult) and the school crest was based on the McCarthy family crest in Ireland.

Father Tim left the New England area and in 1874 was made Dean of St Mary's Cathedral in Sydney. Ill health forced his retirement in 1878 and he died after returning to Ireland in August 1879 aged only 50. He is buried at Ballyheeda, Ballinhassig in the cemetery adjacent to the Sacred Heart Church.

Founding religious ordersEdit

Dominican SistersEdit

The Dominicans began their association with Tamworth Catholic Education in 1876 and the concept of the original McCarthy Catholic Senior High School (MCSH) in the 1970s is linked to Dominican Sister Patricia Rowe, who was teaching at St Dominic's school, and became the first Principal of the Senior High. Many of the sisters played a pivotal role in the establishment and development of various Tamworth Catholic schools. As one of them, Sister Teresa, wrote in 1981 "Our aim… is not only to equip students for a future career, but to create a caring Christian Community."

It was not until 2011 that the McCarthy Community farewelled the Sisters as they ended their direct involvement in the Tamworth community.

Christian BrothersEdit

The Brothers also were pivotal in Catholic education in Tamworth. Brother Brian Moylan worked with Sister Patricia to establish the senior high school and became its first Assistant Principal. The order provided many teachers and leaders and both the Brothers and Dominicans provided teams which visited many Catholic Schools in NSW, including Tamworth, and met with staff and students in spiritual retreats. The Dominicans and the Christian Brothers no longer teach in Tamworth schools but their legacy is valued.

Early daysEdit

Catholic education in Tamworth began with some small cottage schools conducted by Catholic lay women in the late 1860s. In 1876 the Dominican sisters began their association with Tamworth. They opened a primary school and St Dominic's Priory for high school education. In 1882 St Dominic's Convent was opened in Marius St and in 1910 the St Nicholas Primary School was built nearby. The Christian Brothers established their school for boys, Christian Brothers College (CBC) in Carthage Street, in 1925, and St Dominic's from then on only taught girls.

In 1972 McCarthy Catholic Senior High School was established (Years 11 and 12), to cater for all senior students (Years 11 and 12) of St Dominic's and Christian Brothers, with classes initially held at both schools until in June 1975 the new buildings, in Tribe Street were ready . For many years the students celebrated this anniversary. Over the next 25 years the school expanded in enrolment and in buildings – including a Library, Art, Home Science, Textile & Design & Music areas, more class and science rooms and an audio-visual room.

Junior high school classes continued separately at the other two schools but in 1980 it was decided that a new co-educational 7 to 10 school, would be established. By July 1981 the Warral Rd. site was ready and the students moved in, with the official opening in October 1981 of Our Lady of the Rosary College.

Amalgamation and the opening and completion of McCarthy Catholic CollegeEdit

In August 1997 it was decided that the financial and other costs of running two separate schools necessitated an amalgamation of the two high schools, with the decision taken to relocate Rosary College to the Tribe Street site and form a 7-12 co-educational school. It was decided the name of the new school (McCarthy Catholic College) would be used to maintain the previous link with Father Tim McCarthy.

The school was established in 2000, operating for a time on the two separate campuses. By 2002 enough new buildings had been completed to relocate all Year 10 students to the new school. The next stages of the school building were completed by July 2004, a massive and successful operation, with school activities continuing on site throughout. Older buildings were refurbished (e.g. the original classroom block became the new library) and there were new classroom learning areas, administration and staff areas, art, music and drama spaces, science labs, computer rooms, and a magnificent multi- purpose hall. The school was blessed and opened by Bishop Luc Matthys in November 2004. Additional learning areas and a Covered Outdoor Learning Area were part of ongoing improvements in the school. In 2017 Bishop Michael Kennedy opened the latest addition to the school, Our Lady of the Rosary Cultural Centre, with the name chosen to reflect the historical links with the previous junior school. The building houses a large performance hall, a recording studio, classrooms and music practice rooms It has been welcomed as providing a marvelous asset for the school and the Tamworth community.

The names of the 4 school houses: Mackillop, Edmund Rice, Chisholm and Dominic, reflect the local and national Catholic heritage of the present and past schools.

"Life at McCarthy is built on fostering academic excellence and the development of knowledge, skills, values and attitudes that enable positive lifelong Christian citizenship. The development of an ethic of service is integrated throughout school life."[3]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "McCarthy History | McCarthy Catholic College". Retrieved 21 August 2018.
  2. ^ "McCarthy Logo | McCarthy Catholic College". Retrieved 21 August 2018.
  3. ^ Principal’s Report, 2010