In the 1940s, recognising the growing needs of the region, Monsignor Denis Conaghan (Parish Priest of Maroubra from 1939-1954) purchased land to establish a new parish in the Pagewood area. His successor, Monsignor Barney Hudson, (Parish Priest of Maroubra 1954-1974) undertook the formation of the new parish in the late 1950s with the first priest attached to the Pagewood Church, Fr John Power, taking up his position on December 19th 1959. Father Power had a strong desire to provide Catholic schooling for children in the region and went about securing the services of the Marist Brothers and the Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart to staff the co-located single sex primary schools which commenced in 1961 and 1962 respectively.
Buildings for the Marist College commenced in 1960 with a two storey building fronting Donovan Avenue containing eight classrooms, library, manual arts room and canteen, with His Eminence Cardinal Norman Gilroy opening the facility on Sunday 29th January, 1961. The school continued to grow during the 1960s with a Brothers' Monastery completed in 1964 to house ten brothers, a study and a Chapel.
Under the Wyndham Scheme in 1965 the Marist Brothers reorganised Catholic education for boys in the region and, as a result, Marist College at Pagewood became a Catholic secondary school for boys, and the then Marist secondary school at Daceyville became a primary school for boys. To facilitate these changes an additional building fronting Fitzgerald Avenue, including science laboratories, classrooms and woodwork, was constructed in 1965 and extensions undertaken to the original buildings, including a library and classroom space, constructed in 1968 to cater for the growing enrolments.
Under the Principalship of Br Kevin Willits, the first group of Pagewood boys sat their HSC in 1969.
Further buildings were constructed during the 1970s to cater for the continuing demand for enrolment at the College. These included a new senior block in 1970 that contained classrooms, additional laboratories and a preparation room, a second storey extension to the Fitzgerald Avenue building in 1972 to cater for additional classroom needs and the building of the College library in 1975.
1980s and 1990s
Further buildings were constructed throughout the early 1980s including a new senior building fronting Donovan Avenue that contained six classrooms and offices, a metalwork room, sports room, art rooms and associated facilities as the college continued to expand. In 1986 Pagewood celebrated its Silver Jubilee with a special school Mass and a series of functions for Old Boys of the school.
In 1991 the school celebrated thirty years of education in the Eastern Suburbs, with a special Mass in St Mary's Cathedral.
In the mid 1990s the library was extended and renovated, and a new Administration Centre, Assembly Room and Canteen were built underneath. The previous Office Area and Canteen were converted into a new Music Room, Religious Education Resources area, Bookshop and Uniform Shop. The new complex was blessed and opened by Cardinal Edward Clancy on 17th November 1993. Shortly after, larger photography rooms were added to the Art Rooms Complex and the Staff Study Area was extended.
2000s and 2010s
In the 2000s, a number of buildings were renamed to reflect the history and tradition of the College, namely the LaValla Centre, Le Rosey and the Br Ernest and Br Terence Wings. The College Hall, the Hermitage, was constructed and the names of the College Houses, Madigan (Gold), Hayes (Blue), Houston (Red) and Aitken (Green) were introduced.
In the early 2010s the College, in conjunction with Sydney Catholic Schools, commissioned a review of the school to ensure it was meeting the needs of the community. The review, titled The Pagewood Project, affirmed the wonderful work done at the College in preparing young men for success beyond school as well as providing recommendations to re-imagine the delivery of teaching, learning and wellbeing to meet the growing needs of schooling in a contemporary society. The recommendations undertaken from the commencement of the 2014 school year included:
- The re-naming of the College as Champagnat Catholic College, to re-inforce the connection to the Marist Tradition.
- The establishment of a Middle School (Years 7-9) that offers a culture of faith, learning and wellbeing that underpins contemporary practices focused on the development of 21st Century skills.
- The establishment of a Senior School (Years 10-12) that offers a personalised pathway to prepare our students for life beyond secondary school. These personalised pathways are based on a system whereby students have the choice of undertaking an academic pathway with the view to progress towards an ATAR and university study or an applied pathway with a view to study vocational education courses to progress towards direct employment beyond school in a variety of workplaces.
- The establishment of a Vertical House System model that is underpinned by a House system that provides a unique opportunity of working together across all Year Groups.
The project was facilitated by a significant capital investment of $7 million from the Federal government and the Catholic Education Office, Sydney. This investment enabled the college to improve some of the key learning spaces and set up a state-of-the-art Trade Training Centre, reflecting contemporary practice and innovation.
Since the implementation of the Pagewood Project the College has invested significant additional funding into the ongoing professional learning of staff to ensure that the College is at the cutting edge of best practice. The enormous energy invested into the project has seen student learning outcomes consistently rise and in 2016 Sydney Catholic Schools including the College as a case study in their NAPLAN Press Release as a lighthouse school of development and achievement.