MCHF History

Maronite College of the Holy Family (Previously Our Lady of Lebanon College) Sr Constance Bacha and Sister Juliette Ghorayeb laid the foundations for Our Lady of Lebanon school. Sister Madeleine de la Croix joined them in 1974. Our Lady of Lebanon College was opened in 1973 with an enrolment of 115 pupils and occupied space under Our Lady of Lebanon Church. The early conditions were austere, with few, if any, amenities. Yet the pioneer Sisters got on with the task of providing education to families newly arrived in Australia who were battling both financial and linguistic barriers. The Sisters were able to acquire two adjoining house blocks opposite the church and it was here the infants/primary, administration and convent areas of the school were officially set up thanks in part to the 1978 Federal Government Grant. These blocks soon became known as 23-25 Alice Street, Harris Park, NSW - the official address of the College. By 1982 the first section of the school was completed and consisted of a student population of 354 and a staff of 16 teachers and 2 Religious Sisters. The official opening was performed by Senator Peter Baume, the Minister for Education. The remainder of the primary classes were to continue to operate in the Church Hall until 1995. The church and the school were to be part of a large complex built to serve the needs of the local Lebanese Maronites.
The School’s Secondary department moved from the Church hall into two purpose-built buildings in 1990 and 1992. The official opening occurred in 1992 in the presence of then then Prime Minister Paul Keating. The event was recorded in the papers. The Telegraph wrote: ‘The educational needs of the Parish of Our Lady of Lebanon, in Harris Park, Parramatta, highlighted by the increasing Church attendance, led to the establishment of Our Lady of Lebanon College in 1973. The school had begun with 115 students and expanded rapidly leading to High School extensions in 1986. All the proposed stages of Our Lady of Lebanon College were completed and officially blessed by Bishop Joseph Hitti on the 4th September, 1992.’[1] In the Parramatta Advertiser it was written: Mr Keating later praised cultural diversity when he opened a Lebanese school at Harris Park. ‘It (the school) reflects the fact that there is strength in our cultural diversity and that the energy of an ethnic community can strengthen our pursuit of common national goals. . .Fanfares, anthems, flags, culture and entertainment, adoration and adulation were all ingredients of the reception Prime Minister Paul Keating received when he opened Our Lady of Lebanon School at Harris Park on Friday. . . Sitting only a few feet away, Parramatta’s Federal Labor MP, Paul Elliott, basked in the reflected glory. He said the Commonwealth had already contributed $2.3 million to the school in recent years to boost the school community’s own ‘magnificent effort and sacrifice.’[2] By the completion of the final stage of this project in 1992 the College had grown into a school providing education to almost 1,000 children from Kindergarten to HSC and employing 80 staff. The construction of a new upper Primary block also occurred in the late 1990s. It was only then that the classrooms under the local church was finally discontinued. Sr Irene Boughosn was appointed the new College Principal in 1997. During this time political visits were common. In 2000, Prime Minister John Howard visited the College. On 10 August 2001, Premier Carr visited Our Lady of Lebanon College. Two weeks after the Premier’s visit, the NSW Parliamentary John Brogden visited the College. On the first anniversary of September 11 members of the student community were joined by the US Consul-General, Eileen Molloy. She was so impressed by the contribution of the students to the service that she offered to come back to the school to discuss the significance of these events unfolding on the world’s stage. The views of the College students were sought out by newspapers and they appeared on the Channel 9 Sydney ‘Today Show’ to present their point of view. Students from OLOL College were also interviewed in 1998 over racism towards Lebanese following the ‘Premier Bob Carr’s comments linking gang violence to their ethnic community.’[3]
Along with numerous internal refurbishments and the provision of a College-wide computer network, which has moved the school in synch with the technology of the modern age, there was the construction of a new secondary building. This included a purpose-built library, an assembly hall, canteen and six classrooms.
The additions to the secondary section of the College were officially opened on September 17th, 2004. In addition to the Federal Attorney-General and Education Minister and minor State, Federal and Local Government politicians, there was also the presence of the State Governor Dr Marie Bashir.
Sr Marlene Chedid had been on the staff of the College in the early days of the Secondary department, as an administrative assistant and teacher of languages and religion. She returned to OLOL in 2005 as Principal.
OLOL College took advantage of extra financial assistance in 2008-2009 to extend, refurbish and update its educational facilities. The Federal Government in 2009 called for a push to update and modernise primary schools with OLOL College receiving $3 million to spend on building a new Primary block which include classrooms, a multipurpose hall and learning centre. During this time the College also introduced new VET courses for senior students including Hospitality and Construction.
In 2014 Sr Margaret Ghosn became the Principal and the College changed its name to Maronite College of the Holy Family in 2014 to better reflect its charism and the spiritual and cultural aspect of its families. Over the next few years the College continued to grow in numbers reaching a student population of over 1200 student. An additional Secondary building was constructed and interactive technology was implemented across the entire College.
Currently Sr Irene Boughosn is Principal. In 2019 a Governing Board was established to oversee the administration of the College. Currently the College is reviewing its strategic plan and Master Plan. There is focus on expanding the grounds and learning spaces at the College to cater for increasing enrolment numbers.

[1] Cheryl Critchley and Mark Gold, ‘PM Cultivates our tall poppies’ in Telegraph Mirror, Saturday, September 5, 1992.

[2] ‘Keating makes a Hawkish promise’ in Parramatta Advertiser, September 9, 1992.

[3] In The Daily Telegraph, Friday November 6, 1998, p4.