Sion’s 95 years in Box Hill, Australia

This month, Our Lady of Sion College in Box Hill, Australia, celebrates its 95th birthday. School Prinicpal Tina Apostolopoulos shares some early history in the school’s latest newsletter:

“The College began with six sisters of Our Lady of Sion and 15 students. At that time the College started in a stable block which was part of a homestead. Box Hill was a small hub within a fairly rural area with market gardens making up most of the surrounding area. The sisters had come from Sale to establish the school and were well used to rising to the challenges of starting a school from scratch. The sisters displayed great faith, hope and tenacity in refurbishing the stables into classrooms for the children of the local area.

“Archival documents and media reports from the time tell us a great deal about their courage and vision. Some snippets from the House diaries tell us:

‘Archbishop Mannix had mentioned to the Sisters while visiting in Sale that they should have a presence in Melbourne as their work would be much appreciated there. Towards the end of June of 1927, Fr Lonegan advised the Sisters to visit Box Hill, a new suburb of Melbourne which was soon to be established as a parish. On their first visit, the Sisters were impressed by a fine property situated near the church, with spacious grounds. The buildings they saw could be converted into a convent and classrooms.’

1928 – the first school building.


“In The Advocate [a local newspaper] of 1928, we read:

‘This is the first secondary school to be established in the archdiocese of Melbourne by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Sion and it is expected that parents who appreciate a good convent education will avail themselves of this excellent opportunity of securing for their children a thorough training – spiritual and educational – that will adequately fit them to take their place in the world.’


1929 – the first pupils.


“And finally in 1936 after the construction of a new building, Fr Clack the Parish Priest at that time doubted if many institutions would cheerfully face a heavy responsibility of 14,000 pounds as the sisters were doing. When he asked one sister how much money she had in hand, she replied she had no more than two pence. He said, ‘you cannot do much with two pence’ to which she replied, ‘God will do the rest’, and he did.”


1936 – pupils in front of the new school building.


Tina believes our founder, Théodore Ratisbonne, would be amazed to know how far-reaching what he established in France in the 1800s has been.

“The work and charism of the sisters are as important today as they have ever been,” she writes. “The values of compassion, inclusion, welcome and love for the other and the pursuit of justice and peace have always been hallmarks of our school.

“We are grateful to be continuing the legacy established in Box Hill 95 years ago and handed down through the contribution of past principals, hundreds of past staff and thousands of students and their families who have all enriched the story that is Sion.”

Read the full newsletter of the Box Hill Our Lady of Sion College at this link.