The arrival of the Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions
St Mary's began all the way back in 1922 as an empty four acres of land.
Bishop Cleary was Bishop of Auckland at the time, but the purchase was negotiated by his co-adjutor, Bishop J.M. Listen.
Legend has it that Bishop Cleary was far from impressed by the purchase of this land, which in those days must have been a long way from anywhere. On the other hand there were local folk who felt that the site should have been larger.
At first, St Mary's was intended to be a convent for the Sisters of Mercy. Rather than building the convent from the ground up, it was decided that a house would be purchased and placed on the empty site.
A suitable house that belonged to the Higgins family was found on Wellington Street in Papakura. A wealthy gentleman, along with two Sisters of Mercy, went to the Higgins' home to see if he could purchase it. The gentleman was most likely not Catholic, but had decided to buy the building for the Sisters in appreciation for the care and attention he had received while in the Mater Hospital.
The Sisters of Mercy soon decided that Papakura was not the place for them, but shortly afterwards Father Von Rotter encouraged his Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions to consider Papakura. The Sisters did eventually consider Papakura, not for a convent but for a convent school.
On 21st May 1954, the sisters arrived to open the new convent school on Clark Road. Though 3 classrooms were built, only 2 were operational in the first year.
A total of 85 pupils enrolled on opening day.
Sister Charles, acting as principal, taught standards 3 to 6 and Sister Margarita taught the juniors through to standard 2. Sister Stanislaus, community head, spent most of her time endeavouring to extract musical talent from her pupils.
At the beginning of 1955, with the third classroom now completed, Sister Kieran arrived as infant teacher. In a short time she proved her talents were not confined solely to teaching ABCs, but also to coaching rugby on the football field during lunch break.
With the arrival of the Sisters, the parish of Papakura reached its maturity.
The stage was now set - and St Mary's School was born.