Parish and School History

In the history of the Brisbane Archdiocese, the Parish of St James Coorparoo holds a place of privilege.  It was one of the first two districts to come under the building hand of Archbishop James Duhig when he became Co-Adjutor Archbishop of Brisbane.  Until this time, Catholics in the area had to travel to St Joseph's at Kangaroo Point or catch a tram into the city to attend Mass at the Cathedral.

Father Jeremiah O'Leary took up the position as parish priest on 17th March 1913.  A fundraising meeting had been chaired by the Archbishop on the 16th March, and a committee was formed to build a Catholic school that would also be used as a church.  The foundation stone was then laid by Archbishop Duhig on the 6th of April 1913; and the new building was blessed and opened as a church on 10th August 1913. 

Along with the newly established parish came the sisters of the Good Samaritan.  The sisters first lived in a house at 67 Kirkland Avenue before moving to redeveloped 'Langlands' on 20th August 1916.  The Sisters opened St James School on 31st January 1916 with an enrolment of 200 students.  Interestingly, St James has consistently retained these numbers of students over the years.  The community was headed by Sister Mary Halena Robinson (S​uperior and music teacher) while the school principal was Sister Joseph Fanning.  As part of the process of establishing Villanova College, a new convent was built for the Good Samaritan Sisters.  The two-storey brick building housed the sisters for many years and is currently leased by Centre Care.

history5.jpgIt soon became very apparent that the school/church building was far too small for the needs of the parish.  During the week, the infant classes were accommodated underneath the building.  Soon after, St James Church was built high on the hill facing Old Cleveland Road and was blessed and opened by Archbishop James Duhig on 29th November 1928.  St James Church is one of the oldest Catholic churches in Brisbane and a significant landmark. 

history6.pngAbout Us Today

St James Primary School is situated in the inner south-eastern area of Brisbane in the densely populated suburb of Coorparoo.  The school has an enrolment of approximately 165 students and is mostly one stream, however there are two classes in a few year levels.  It is a thriving little inner-city school with a vibrant community.  St James is well-resourced by a passionate and engaged staff who collectively focus on the school values of faith, community, and learning.


The first motto of St James School was based on the Benedictine saying that, “In all things may God be glorified," and expressed through listening with “the ear of the heart." This remains very central to our identity at St James and is inspired by the Good Samaritan Sisters, the school's first founding order.

The pastoral presence of the Augustinians began in 1952 when the Augustinian Order took over the administration of St James Parish from the Brisbane Archdiocese. 

Following the path of St Augustine, this charism draws on the idea of, “one heart and mind on the way of God".  We are travellers on a pilgrimage together, wherein Christ is our constant companion, as well as our way and our goal. St James the Greater, our namesake as a school, was also a man of great faith and pilgrimage.   


All images © ​ Brisbane Catholic Education​, St James School (2023)