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College History

College History

Bishop Bernard Wallace, the Eighth Bishop of Rockhampton (1974-1990), approved the formation of a new school in North Mackay in 1982.  The new school was named Emmanuel, meaning ‘God with Us.’

Emmanuel Catholic School was established on this site in 1983 with classes from Year 1 to Year 7. The first Principal was a Marist Sister, Sister Joan McBride. In 1984, sixty students were enrolled in Year 8 (this is  known as first year of enrolments for our College) and these students completed Year 10 in 1986. The school continued as a Year 1 to Year 10 school until a preschool was established in 1992.

Year 10 student, Audra Heye, designed the logo for Emmanuel Catholic School (now adopted by Emmanuel Catholic Primary School) in 1986.

The school took part in a Renewal Process in 1990, which resulted in a name change from Emmanuel Catholic School to Emmanuel College.

A second renewal in 1995 recommended that Emmanuel College be discontinued and, in its place, two schools be established – Emmanuel Catholic Primary School for Pre-School to Year 7 students and Holy Spirit College for students from Years 8 to 12.

In 1995, various names were suggested for the new secondary school. The staff was asked to decide between Holy Spirit College and Shekinah College but the vote was tied 23 all, so Bishop Brian Heenan (the Ninth Bishop of Rockhampton, 1991-2013) chose Holy Spirit College.  Two competitions were held in 1995 – one to design a crest and another to suggest a logo.  Year 9 student, Ben Newton, designed the winning crest. It has the following features:

The Cross Central to Christian beliefs is the fact that Jesus redeemed mankind by his death on the cross. Without the cross there can be no resurrection.

The Dove A symbol of the Holy Spirit actively watching over us (wings moving) and guiding us through life’s journey. The rays are a sign of God’s grace given through the Spirit.

The Triangle Solidarity with God but it also can be interpreted as a road or a ladder that takes us towards God. The triangle does not represent the Trinity as it is not equilateral.

The words “Peace and Unity” were chosen for the logo because they occur frequently in the Mass for Pentecost Sunday – the feast day of the Holy Spirit. For this reason, the College Feast Day is held on the Friday before Pentecost. The opening prayer of the vigil Mass begins “Let us pray that the Holy Spirit may bring peace and unity to all mankind”.

The names, Emmanuel and Holy Spirit, have a strong connection. The word ‘Emmanuel’ means “God is with us” and the way God is with us now is through the presence of the Holy Spirit. As Jesus said:

“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper who will stay with you forever. He is the Spirit who reveals the truth about God.” (John 14, 16 – 17)

“But when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will be filled with power and you will be witnesses for me ……… to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1,8)

And at Pentecost “They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to talk in other languages as the Spirit enables them to speak.” (Acts 2,4)

In 1996, Holy Spirit College officially came into existence and the first Year 12 graduates were in 1999.

2014 marked 30 years of secondary schooling, since our first Year 8 students enrolled in 1984 at what was then called, Emmanuel Catholic School.  Celebrations were held in May 2014 with past and present students and staff to commemorate this important occasion.

In 2015, Year 7 was announced as the first year of high school in Queensland and we welcomed our first Year 7 students who later graduated in 2020.

2021 marked 25 years since we have been named Holy Spirit College. The day was celebrated with staff and students attending a fun activity day at the College and a special ceremony to fill a time capsule to be opened in 2046 to commemorate 50 years.


  • Sister Joan McBride (Foundation Principal) 1983-1990
  • Mr Michael O'Brien 1991-1995
  • Mrs Ruth Lang 1996-2001
  • Mr Vince McSherry 2001-2002
  • Dr John Lyons 2003-2019
  • Mrs Alison Wales 2020-Current

Please click on the link below to see the timeline of our history.

Timeline of Holy Spirit College