17 Young Street, Fitzroy (St Patrick’s Primary School)

I have located this school by the description from Tony Birch, who describes the school location as: “

There was a St Patrick’s school in Fitzroy at the end of Young Street and in fact if
you go up to where Australian Catholic University is the side that the main campus
is on is the old mint, and then the other side where they’ve got a couple of big
lecture theatres now, behind Cathedral Hall, or what people call Central Hall, was
our school.
It was a little three teacher school. It was a boys’ school, only Christian Brothers,
Grade 3 and 4, Grade 5 and 6 and Form 1. There was one Brother for 3 and 4 and
about 50 boys, one Brother [11:12] for 5 and 6 and about another 50, and then
just Form 1 with the Headmaster who had about 30 boys.
” (Oral History – Fitzroy History Society – Tony Birch 2016)

St. Patrick’s School during demolition. by Mario Cotela. 1970 – Image held by Fitzroy Library

Another recollection is that of Bill Farr, Art Director of the Age in 2009. He starts the article with “APPARENTLY, I’m one of the lucky ones” and goes on to describe the sexual abuse by Catholic priest Monsignor Penn Jones of former alter boy Gavan Boyle. He describes the school as “a little bluestone pile in Young Street, Fitzroy – long since demolished. It was the local Catholic school and also the feeder school for members of the choir. Its principal was Brother Dean. Legend had it that Brother Dean had been a boxer, under the fighting name of Dogger Dean. It was, of course, the only name we kids used for him.” It was 1967

The article continues and talks about the roll that Monsignor Penn Jones held as the school chaplain and his role as counsellor for boys going through puberty. Farr was 12-13 at the time and remembers feeling uncomfortable, that he became friends with Farr’s family and that he used to drive him home sometimes and these were awkward, but more so that they were an extension of his counselling session, discussing erections etc. Although they were close including a holiday in Rosebud together with his family, there was never an incident with Farr. The full article is available from the Sydney Morning Herald, Re-examining the memories of a Catholic childhood, Bill Farr, 16 Sep 2009.

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