The first Catholic school in Rotorua was called St Michael’s School and was located at the lakefront from 1903 to 1924. From 1924 to 1958, it was located at Ranolf Street. In 1958, there was a change. The school changed its name to St Mary’s and continued at the same location and a second school was built on May Road and became St Michael’s School.
In 1958, St Michael’s Catholic School was opened by a group of Sisters of Mercy, recently arrived from Ireland. Their founder Catherine McAuley was Irish and inspired many women to join the Mercy Order. These women travelled to many parts of the world and became involved in schools and hospitals.
In the early days, Catholic schools were funded entirely by fees from the students and in those days, money was tight. The sisters received vegetables and food from the local Catholic community and the resources of the school were very limited. Yet the sisters had a vision - to teach the children under their care all about God and his wonderful love for us.
As time went on, there were fewer women answering God’s call to become sisters. Fortunately, during the 1970’s, the Integration Act was passed by Parliament that allowed teachers salaries to be paid by the State and other costs to be met by the Catholic Bishops.
We now have a school that has no Sisters of Mercy but we continue to follow the Mercy values of compassion, excellence, hospitality, respect, social justice and service. We also honour the original sisters by celebrating St Patrick’s Day each year and by doing so, we remember and retain this important celebration. St Patrick went out to spread the Good News and the Sisters of Mercy did likewise.
Today we are a school that prides itself on its family values of love and belonging. We have students who had a Mum or Dad as a past pupil. We have a learning support worker whose grandfather helped build St Michael’s Church and School. We have two teachers and a principal who were past pupils of the school. We have four staff members who have each recently celebrated twenty years of service to St Michael’s School.
St Michael’s Catholic School is inclusive and celebrates each and every child. Every child is a gift of God and the love and aroha of our special school means that it creates a place in the heart of all those who become associated with school. For many people, the association now spans 3 generations within a family.
We extend a warm welcome to those who are considering becoming part of our whanau.