Our History

In 2013 St Joseph's Tobruk Memorial School celebrated its 60th year of providing Catholic education to the children of Beenleigh and surrounding areas with the school’s blessing taking place in 1953. The school’s origins began with the enthusiasm and leadership of Father Owen Steele. He founded the school; and inspired by the vision of Mary MacKillop, a group of dedicated Sisters of St Joseph began the educational journey for many local children.  The original school building was opened with 97 students, including 21 borders.  St Joseph's Tobruk Memorial School was blessed on October 25, 1953 and opened its doors in 1954 for students. In 1955, St Patrick’s Parish was founded and the church was built adjacent to the school. This original church now serves the community as an OSHC service. A new church was built in the grounds in 1988.

The school has grown with the construction of new buildings during each of the successive decades. As the school grew in enrolment so did the size and scope of the facilities to suit the needs of the students. The school grew to an enrolment of over 600 students in the 1980’s and 1990’s. In 2006 a fire destroyed the original school building and a new administration and reception was built. At around the same time a new hall was constructed alongside.

It is from Monsignor Owen Steele's service as a chaplain in the armed forces during World War 2 that the school gained its title “Tobruk Memorial”. During the North African campaign, Fr Owen Steele was one of the famous "Rats of Tobruk". These Allied soldiers fought bravely over many months to hold a prized port, Tobruk, from German hands. When Father Steele returned to Australia in 1943 Archbishop Duhig appointed him as Parish Priest of Beaudesert, of which the agricultural township Beenleigh was a part of. St Joseph's was built in memory of the men who served at “The Siege of Tobruk” from April 10 to November 27 1941. The Sisters of St Joseph served the school as educators until 1994 when Sister Jenny Scari finished her time at the school as principal.


Saint Mary MacKillop ~ Co-founder Sisters of St Joseph

Mary was born near Melbourne, Australia, in 1842, the first daughter of Flora and Alexander MacKillop. Her life was never to be an easy one, the path continually beset with obstacles. But Mary was courageous and trusted in God to see her through the difficult times. Before she was 20 years old, Mary knew that God was calling her, but it was not until she was 24 that she was to take up what she called "God's work".

Her vocation was to open and run Catholic schools for the poor in South Australia and, at this time, she became foundress of The Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart. Doubtless, her task brought her much joy, but it also brought great hardship and pain. Mary's commitment to God remained unshaken and till her death in 1909 Mary had been a devoted servant of God.

Her greatness is seen in her enormous contribution to education in this country. Whenever she saw people in need, she felt compelled to respond. She said, Never see a need without doing something about it." The sick, imprisoned, migrant, destitute, prostitute and orphaned all had cause to be grateful to Mary. The motivation of her life lay in her intense concern for the poor, her deeply held Catholic faith and her complete commitment to God.

In recognition of her devotion. Pope John Paul II declared Mary "Blessed" in Sydney in 1995.  Mary MacKillop was Canonised on October 17 at St Peter's Basilica, Rome. Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed Mary's sainthood during the Canonisation Mass.