After humble beginnings in Western Australia in the 1840s, the Catholic
Education system in Western Australia today provides a dynamic, student
centred approach to education for approximately 72,000 young people in
163 schools and colleges across the state of Western Australia.
Catholic Education in WA is comprised of four regions Broome, Bunbury,
Geraldton and Perth that correlate to the four dioceses of Western
Australia. However our education system is a single, state-based system
and is unique to Catholic Education in Australia.
The four Catholic dioceses in Western Australia and their Bishops mandate a single entity, the Catholic Education Commission of Western Australia and its
administrative arm, Catholic Education Western Australia
to oversee Catholic Education throughout the length and breadth of
The CEWA is situated on the hill in West Leederville and has occupied
the site since 1986. It was formerly the home to the Sisters of the Good
Shepherd who worked to support the social and education needs of women
and girls since their beginnings in Perth in 1902. The buildings and
grounds are beautifully maintained and the adjacent chapel is a popular
The book Continuity in Change by Phillip Pendal looks at the journey of Catholic Education in Western Australia (1843-2008).
Located high on the hill in West Leederville, the buildings which
comprise the Catholic Education Centre were established in stages from
1903 to the 1920s by the Good Shepherd Sisters. The original buildings
were designed by architect Richard Joseph Dennedy. Built of brick and
Cottesloe stone, the building was first occupied on 21 September 1904.
In 1905, an industrial-sized laundry was constructed. The large
kitchens within the convent provided a catering service for hospitals
and although the main purpose of the laundry was also to provide a
service for the hospitals many of the principal hotels and cafes,
including some private families, were sending their laundry also.
The Good Shepherd's mode of operation was through prayer, example,
kindness and devotion to the moral and social re-education of girls and
women placed in their charge who needed protection, support and
guidance. In 1985 the convent was purchased by the Archdiocese of Perth.
Extensive structural work, restoration and refurbishment were
undertaken during the following year.
Catholic Education Centre
The Catholic Education Centre was opened by Pope John Paul II on 30
November 1986 and is the only building in Australia to have been opened
by a Pope. During the official opening His Holiness prayed: "May this
centre always be a home of truth and wisdom, of faith and goodwill
toward all - may it be of service to the community and work to build
your kingdom of justice, light and peace".
The centre hosts a wide range of activities that serve educational requirements of all its people with more than 30,000 people visiting the centre each year.
The magnificent grounds of the Catholic Education Centre are an
essential part of the heritage value of the complex. The existing
gardens to the south side are one of a handful of largely intact
Edwardian gardens in Perth.
Their retention was a design consideration in the reconstruction, and led to the decision to create a new entrance to the rear (north) of the complex and for parking to be kept to the north and west.
The Good Shepherd Stained Glass Window
In 1957 the Sisters removed the beautiful stained glass window on the
first floor for ventilation purposes. The damaged window was stored
under the chapel for some years, then given to an antique dealer in
The dealer kept it for 33 years until it was recognised by the
Principal at New Norcia College (Sr Marie-Therese Flemming sgs) in 1990,
who believed it belonged to the Good Shepherd Convent at Leederville.
The antique dealer had actually restored the window for sale in 1989.
The window was purchased by Michael King on behalf of Catholic
Education Western Australia. After purchase and repair, the stained glass window
was restored to its original place in 1991.
Chapel of St Michael of the Archangel
Situated within the grounds of the Catholic Education Centre, is the
Chapel of St Michael the Archangel which was built in 1938 in the
neo-gothic architectural style to accommodate the seating of seventy
Today it is the focus of the liturgical life for the personnel at
the Catholic Education Centre and has become a very popular venue for
More information on Chapel Bookings