Delany College, Granville
[From College website]
Delany College was originally known as Patrician Brothers’ High School (Years 7-10). Established in 1942, it was one of many Patrician schools in New South Wales and throughout the world. (Crests: 1942 - 1996 & 1996 >)
In 1997 the school became a co-educational college (Years 7-12) to reflect and meet the changing needs of the community. In honour of its rich Patrician heritage, the College was named after the Patrician Brothers’ founder, Bishop Daniel Delany.
[From Go Into the Vineyard, 2009]
August 23rd, 1941. An application from the P.P. of Granville, Rev. Fr. McGovern, for a staff of Brothers to open a school in his parish, was considered. All [Provincial Councillors] were in favour of the opening…. - Bro Austin O’Connell - Prov…. Dec 18th. …the staff for the new school [Granville] which was to open after summer holidays, be Bro Joseph Tierney - Superior, Bro Gerard Histon and Bro Vincent Budin. (“Provincial Archives 1890 - 1968”, page 154.)
In mid January of 1942, just a few weeks before the school was due to open, Brothers Joseph Tierney and Anthony Phelan arrived in Granville to begin canvassing for students for the first Patrician school to open since Dubbo in 1921. With no monastery to call their own, for the first couple of months the Brothers lived in the presbytery with Fr McGovern and his two curates. The school, which was to be an upper primary to junior secondary school (5th Class to 3rd Form), was to draw its students mainly from Granville, Merrylands, Fairfield and Smithfield , the only other Catholic boys’ school in the immediate area being at Parramatta. The school opened on Tuesday, 3 February 1942 with 102 students: 46 in 5th Class, 30 in 6th Class and 26 in 1st Form (Year 7). Brother Joseph Tierney was the Principal. He was 41, and his assistants were Brothers Gerard Histon (23) and Vincent Budin (20).
“For the first few weeks it was pretty hard going, three classes (5th, 6th, and 1st Year) side by side with one blackboard between us in the old white hall,” reflects Leo Budin (then Br Vincent Budin). The “old white hall” was the parish hall, and was once the parish church (1882 - 1908). Within weeks the school was transferred to four old but newly renovated wooden classrooms that had been a part of the convent school. And soon after, the Brothers moved out of the presbytery into their own monastery: Judge Docker’s house at 200 William Street bought for them by Fr McGovern and the parish. Br Norbert Phelan, Provincial Councillor, described the house as “large for a small community but not in a good state of repair.” In fact there are quite a few humorous stories about its state of repair, from allocating sinks for morning ablutions to hearing termites at work during morning meditation.
Despite the meagre resources of school and monastery the school progressed very well. In 1943 the 1st Year boys progressed into 2nd Year, twenty-two boys were successful in the Primary Final, and there were five Brothers making up the staff. However, the school buildings could not cope and a “tin shed” next to the monastery was used as the 1st Year classroom, in the summer months very uncomfortable for the students and a challenge for the Brothers in their black soutanes. In 1948 4th Class was added to the school and the roll call was 250. By 1949 the students were marching in St Patrick Day parades, in full uniform, including hat, and with their own drum band.
By 1952 the post-war immigration population explosion made the need for more classrooms chronic, and so Monsignor McGovern drew up plans for a new school building. This was to be a two-storey, brick building, with four classrooms, an office, and a toilet. It was opened in 1953 and still stands today on Grimwood Street as a part of the Trinity Primary School. But this was not enough - 4th Class in 1955 alone numbered eighty students - and when Bishop Lyons, Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney, asked for more Brothers in 1956, Provincial Brother Norbert Phelan asked for more classrooms. The Bishop got his Brothers - there were eight Brothers at Granville in 1957 - and the Brothers got their classrooms in the form of four prefabricated classrooms placed along Bennalong Street.
But the number of students continued to stretch the school buildings beyond their limits, especially when the school population exceeded 500 in the late 1950s. And the increase of the number of Brothers was having a similar effect on the monastery. It had gone from accommodating three Brothers quite comfortably, despite the lack of sinks, to accommodating eight Brothers.
In 1957, Cardinal Gilroy and the local Priests had agreed that a new monastery was to be built. But it wasn’t until 1960 that Fr Brennan, Granville Parish Priest, was able to have the old monastery completely demolished and replaced in April of 1961 by a new, twelve bedroom, £35,000 monastery. Cardinal Gilroy and Superior General Br Francis Redmond attended the opening. Fr Brennan described it as a “perfect job” and made it clear to the crowd assembled at the opening that the parishes of Granville, Guildford, Merrylands, Trongate and Harris Park had all shared equally in financing the new monastery. The stone altar had been donated by the students at the boys’ and girls’ schools at Granville. During the building, which took thirty-six weeks, the Brothers lived in a house supplied by Fr Roth Delaney , just down from the school on Woodville Road , and just across the road from the famous Vauxhall Inn. The new monastery accommodated the Brothers very comfortably for the next thirty-four years.
With the Brothers finally settled into their new abode, Fr Brennan, with the support of the Parish Priests of the local feeder schools, turned to the needs of the school, and working with Brother Cronan O’Meara, and with government funding once again available, was able to have a building programme devised by 1966. It entailed the building of an entire new complex. Over the next seven years a wonderful transformation took place. By 1966 stage one gave the school a new two-storey brick building with two Science labs and three classrooms. This ran east-west in the same area as the current school library. In 1970, with a school population of around 460 with classes from 5th Class to 4th Form, extensions were made to stage one. Now the entire secondary section could be housed in new and modern classrooms. In 1972 the primary section gave their 1953 building back to the parish and moved into their new wing. In 1973 the last of the wooden classrooms, running along Bennalong Street, gave way to a new school library.
Staffing the school pre-1970 was always a difficulty. The Provincial and his Council spared as many Brothers as they could and in the first twenty years the number of Brothers went from three to five to nine. But the number of students always made student-Brother ratio quite a challenge to both student and Brother. Stories of Brothers teaching classes of seventy to one hundred students are not fiction. The only solution was to engage lay teachers. This was a huge burden on parish, school, and monastery finances because there was not as yet any money from the government. The Brothers had only school fees to survive on with some help from the annual school fete, and there are several entries in the archives which state that Granville was in dire financial straits. Fortunately the Brothers were able to employ men of high professional and religious integrity, men such as Pat Buckley, Bill Leydon, Stan Meyers, John Robinson and Tony Sanders.
Certainly by the early 1970s the “hard years” were over. With new buildings, a pleasant if somewhat crowded playground, government finance, and ample teachers both Brothers and lay, the future looked good and secure. And it was. In 1982, the fortieth anniversary of the school, with six Brothers, fifty-two lay staff, 433 boys in the secondary section, and 243 in the primary, further technics classrooms were added and the staff facilities were upgraded; and it was despite the dramatic changes that were going to take place from the mid 1990s.
In December of 1994 the primary section of the school was closed by the Catholic Education Office of Parramatta as a result of their regionalisation of primary schools which involved boys’ remaining in local parish schools for all of their primary education. Over its fifty-three year history the primary section had built up an excellent reputation in the area for the education it provided; the dedication and educational innovations of its teachers; its emphasis on religious instruction and practices; and its sporting prowess. Brothers who were primary Principals were Kevin Samuel (1967 & 68), Augustine (Tom) Grealy (1969-74), Basil (Joseph) Byrne (1975-80), and Richard Doheny (1981-86). Mr Dennis Dargan (1987-94) was the Primary School’s last Principal.
In 1978, Brother Joseph Crowley became the tenth Brother to be Principal of the secondary school, and he was to become the last when in 1997 the Principalship of Granville was passed on to Mr Quentin Evans. It was the second Patrician high school to transfer the Principalship from a Brother to a lay person (JPII, Marayong, 1990). The decrease in the number of Patrician Brothers made it impossible for the Province to continue to provide a Brother as Principal. The school Principals had been Brothers Joseph Tierney (1942-47), Gerard Histon (1948-51), De Sales Gilbert (1952-59), Peter Johnson (1960-62), Cronan O’Meara (1963-68), Gabriel McCluskie and then Callistus Keating (1969), Celestine Mulhall (1970-74), Raymond Eves (1975-77), and Joseph Crowley (1978-97).
1995 was also the last year that a Patrician community resided at Granville. With only four Brothers living in the twelve-bedroom monastery, and only two teaching in the school, it was decided that the monastery should be returned to the Diocese and the Brothers live elsewhere.
Perhaps all this was preparing the school for its most dramatic change as it moved from a junior secondary boys’ school to a senior secondary co-educational school. For several years leading up to 1995 there had been concerns about the falling enrolments in the school and questions asked about what to do. Dwindling numbers was no stranger to Granville and similar questions had been asked in 1967 , but the school carried on. However, in 1995 the decision was made by the Parramatta Catholic Education Office, in consultation with the Brothers and Priests and parents of the area, that the transition would take place. By the end of 1996 the school’s new name, Delany College, and new uniform had been decided on. In 1997 the school took in its first Year 11 cohort of boys and girls, and by 2000 stages 1 and 2 of the building programme were completed and blessed, with more stages to come. Two Patricians were on staff during these important years of transition: Brother Charles Barry, just mentioned, who arrived in Granville in 1995 after twenty-eight years in Papua New Guinea, and Brother John Robinson who also come to Granville from PNG but in 1996. John became REC and played a prominent role in those early years of transformation.
The transition was greeted with mixed reactions at first, but it was really just the end of a chapter in the school’s history, it was not the end of the history. The “new” school has grown quickly and well, having as its foundation fifty-four years of Patrician heritage. Its future is bright and it has consciously decided to carry on the Patrician legacy and charism.
It is impossible to list and give credit to all those who were a part of the Patrician Brothers’ Granville story. Certainly the Priests of Granville and adjoining parishes were essential to the story. Fathers Pierse, CEO school inspector, and J.J. McGovern (1941-53), for starting it all, Fathers P. Brennan (1953-68) and L. Campion (1971-2008) who gave their complete support to the school and Brothers in so many ways. There are so many, many parents who gave so much of themselves, to whom the Brothers and the school owe so very much. While not all these people are mentioned here, they are often remembered in stories shared.
Perhaps the features that will stand out for people in their memory of the school will be how the school survived the “difficult days”, its sporting history, its cultural diversity, its Religious life, and its hospitality. The difficult days we have already glanced at, and to finish we can only mention the others.
Granville was a very successful sporting school and, over the years in the fields of Football, Cricket, Athletics, Swimming and Basketball, brought many trophies home. The school had tremendously strong and dedicated sports clubs, consisting of men and women whose selflessness and enthusiasm were at the heart of the school’s sporting achievements, especially in Rugby League and Cricket. Granville’s cultural diversity was very much a part of the soul of the school. In 1982, the school had a total population of 676 students, 197 of these were born overseas; 484 had a parent who was born overseas; and 243 had a Lebanese background. Religious Education, prayer, and religious exercises were an integral part of everyday life. Before there were such things as diocesan R.E. guidelines and resources, the staff worked hard to keep the Religious Education programme up-to-date and relevant to their students. A teacher could bring a chaotic class to a perfect order by making the Sign of the Cross to start a prayer. And the students’ fervour and attention at Mass were always an edifying experience for all. Finally, the school’s hospitality became well known, admired and appreciated. It was indeed not unusual for a stranger, walking across the school playground to the office, to be greeted by several students as they made their way. The friendliness of the students was often commented on by visitors.
During the years 1942 to 1997, sixty Brothers taught at Patrician Brothers’ Granville , and all would have only fond memories of their time in the school and in the parish, and all would wish to thank those Priests, parents, friends, colleagues and students who contributed in so many ways to the story that is Patrician Brothers’ Granville.