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History of St.Mary's Seminary

  The Australian Oblate seminary began in March 1963  in the Juniorate building in Geelong.  St Mary's Seminary was eventually officially opened in August 1963. Despite being often seemingly unnoticed in the Australian Church,  Oblates were surprised by the number who attended the opening.  Two students returned from South Africa to commence Theology at Corpus Christi College, Glen Waverley; four came from the Novitiate to begin Philosophy; Frs Austin Cooper and Patrick Slattery were the formation team, assisted by Bro John Keane for some months and also by Bro. Frank Thornton who remained on as cook until 1968.

In 1965 students from St. Mary's were opened to a wider academic world and began attending nearby Monash University.  The BA or BSc degrees were integrated with seminary studies, the Oblate community always providing tutorials as an integral part of formation. The connection with Monash was greatly facilitated by Sir Michael Chamberlin, a prominent Catholic layman and Deputy Chancellor of the University. Austin Cooper and the late John Maher, members of the formation team have taught at Monash.

In 1972 St Mary's along with Corpus Christi College, Salesian Theological College and three other communities, joined a new `consortium'  entitled Catholic Theological College (CTC).  Henceforth the whole range of philosophical and theological studies was provided by CTC and Monash, while tutorials continued to be provided at home.  From the beginning Oblates have been on the faculty of the new consortium with Austin Cooper as the foundation Master.

In 1976 the Catholic Church in Victoria and Tasmania joined the Melbourne College of Divinity (MCD), an ecumenical body  established by Act of Parliament in 1910.  CTC became one of the associated teaching institutes of the MCD thus enabling its students to qualify for state recognised theological degrees.

Within this much wider academic field, St. Mary's has continued to provide a training ground for the development of Oblate community life and prayer, personal human growth and practical preparation for the apostolate. Among the many achievements of St. Mary's is a very fine theological library of some 40,000 volumes.

The number of seminarians has never been so high as it was in the late 1950s before the seminary was opened. Over a 30 year period 121 candidates entered the Oblate novitiate and of these 41 (one third) took final vows.  Of these 41,  six have since left the Oblates and two have died. Over these years 40 (33%) of the students at St Mary's have come from our Colleges with Iona providing some 24 of these;  51 (42%) came from Oblate parishes of whom 10 came from Eagle Junction contacts;  30  (25%)  came from other contacts such as vocation literature or contact on a mission or retreat.



Austin Cooper

 1973-1976 Donald Hughes
 1976-1977 John O'Doherty
 1977-1983 Thomas Shortall
 1983-1989 Austin Cooper
 1989-1993 Paul Gwynne
 1993-1995 Donald Hughes
 1995-1999 Paul Gwynne
 2000-2007 John Maher
 2008-2010 Mark Edwards

 2011-2012 Leo Mifsud
 2013 - 2014 Christian Fini
 2015-2016  Daniel Szewc
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