In 1842 a bark and slab building was erected for use as the first Catholic church in Mudgee. This church was later used as a school for a short time.
In 1861 Fr Callaghan McCarthy, Mudgee’s first Parish Priest, raised funds for a brick and shingle roof building to be erected. Our Blessed Lady’s School, an all boys school, continued in the school house fronting Church Street under the care of Mr. C Kevin. Other lay teachers from this period were Patrick Murphy and Edward Higgins. The most famous pupil to attend this school was poet and writer Henry Lawson.
In 1874 the Sisters of Mercy arrived and the Convent was built in 1879. The sisters, under the leadership of Sr M Joseph Murphy, commenced immediately by taking charge of the The Sacred Heart school for girls and infants, holding all their classes in the Convent.
A new Convent was built in 1880 and boarders were introduced. They numbered 12 in 1912 and later numbered between twenty and thirty. Most came from farming families in the district.
Additions were made to the Convent in 1902 by Monsignor J O’Donovan. When space later became too constricted at the boys school house Mons. O’Donovan built a bark hut for 5 pounds to house 6 or more students. After this time the Sisters took over the Boys school. In a Convent library book the first entry appears “St. Matthews Convent of Mercy” hence the name of the school.
The original St Matthews school was built in 1912. The foundation stone was laid in 1912 by Bishop Dunne at the instigation of Mons. O’Donovan and the building was officially opened and blessed in October 1913 by the Bishop.
In 1936 Fr Flanagan incorporated the original classrooms into a new building which was opened by Apostolic delegate, Archbishop Dr Panico. The Minister for Education at the time, Mr Heffron, said, “for furnishing, lighting and general layout, he did not think there was another school to compare with St. Matthews in New South Wales or any part of the Commonwealth”.
In 1938 the Sisters introduced a five year course leading to the Leaving School Certificate examinations. This led to the amalgamation of the Primary Boys and Girls school, thus ending many years of single sex Catholic Primary Education in Mudgee.
Over the years more land was acquired. Alterations and additions were made in 1952 when three new classrooms were added to St Matthews’ Infants Department. The Mudgee Guardian reports in 1955 of the blessing of the new Sacred Heart Infants School being recently completed at a cost of 10,000 pounds and blessed by His Lordship Bishop Norton. It was designed by Architect Miss Moya Merrick and constructed by Mr P Carmichael.
In 1968 a spacious new library was opened as part of additions and renovations that were started in 1966. The hall was built as a combined project of the P & F and the Commonwealth Employment program in 1985.
The day before celebrating St Matthews Feast Day, on Sunday September 20th, 1992, a huge fire destroyed the original 1912 classrooms and much of the later additions. In 1993, a new school was built from the generosity of the Bathurst Diocese, St Mary’s Parish and the Mudgee community as well as insurance money from the fire. Through much planning and effort, 1994 saw many new school facilities being built and opened on the Lewis St site.
The school continued to grow with extensions to the library, expansion of classes to the convent, a demountable for music classes in 2004, a demountable for secondary maths classes in 2006, a sports shed in 2008 as well as a new perimeter fence.
On 30th March 2012, the school celebrated the opening of spacious new facilities including a gym, arts centre, library, trade training centre and food technology rooms. These additions were blessed and opened by Bishop Michael McKenna.
In February 2012, a proposal was presented to expand St Matthews to Years 11 and 12. After two years, the proposal was approved and it was announced at Speech and Awards Night in December 2013 that St Matthews would expand to Stage 6 in 2015. After a year of preparation for the staff, students, parents and CEDB, St Matthews welcomed their first Year 11 cohort in January 2015 with 33 students.
Due to the ongoing rapid growth of the school, plans began in 2016 to determine the best scenario to accommodate future enrolment demand. The school grew from an enrolment of 450 in 2012 to almost 1000 students in 2020 across K-12.
As a result, a proposal was approved to build a new secondary campus on the corner of Bruce and Broadhead Roads. In January of 2023, students from Years 7 to 12 relocated to the new secondary campus, thus starting a new and exciting phase in the history of our school.
One of the defining features of our wonderful school is the continuity we provide from Kindergarten to Year 12. This important part of our educational philosophy ensures we maintain strong alignment across our approaches to Learning, Wellbeing and Faith. It also provides opportunities for students of different ages to connect with and support one another. At the heart of a K-12 community is the ability for your child to grow and be nurtured at every stage of their learning journey through the strength of continuous relationships and a strong sense of community.
While our Primary and Secondary Campuses occupy separate school sites, throughout the year we create multiple opportunities for authentic interaction between students of all ages: