History of St Joseph’s Tenterfield

Tenterfield, situated on the Northern New England Tableland, 20 km from the Queensland border, became the centre of a beautiful and prosperous district within a few years of the first settler’s arrival.

The area was gazetted as a town on 7/10/1851.

The discovery of gold at Fairfield (now Drake) in the latter part of 1858, and other fields to the east of Tenterfield brought an inrush of thousands of prospectors, men of many nationalities.

It was during this period that Tenterfield was established as a Parish in 1865, but the Catholic Faith was very much alive in the district before that time.

In August 1863, it was decided to call tenders for the erection of a Church, St. Mary’s. In January, 1866, arrangements were made to welcome Fr. Keeghan as the first resident Parish Priest and plans for the Church were soon underway. The Church was ready for blessing and opening in 1868. Prior to this, church services were held in Sullivan’s Hotel.

St. Joseph’s Convent Tenterfield

Tenterfield was the first parish to which the Sisters came. The Sisters of St Joseph founded our school in 1880. Mother Mary MacKillop visited the Convent in June, 1890, after the Convent was opened. Previously the Sisters were living in a shack on a property out of town. The old Convent is a two-storey building in Miles Street. The school was the lower storey and the Sisters lived on the upper floor.

In July, 1914 the present Convent was blessed and dedicated. For some years the convent was a boarding school to meet the needs of children from the surrounding district.

The Parish of Tenterfield farewelled the Sisters of St Joseph in 1992. Our first Lay Principal commenced his tenure the following year.