Our History

John Therry Catholic College opened on 9th February 1981, under the principalship of Brother Clarence Cunningham. The initial enrolment was of some 300 students from Year 7 to 9.

John Therry has had a proud history on site at Demetrius Road Rosemeadow since 1981. There had been two years of boarding at St Gregory's prior to this. Much of the original site work was completed with the help of parents, including concreting and gardening work. The first students at John Therry will recall bringing grass runners from home to establish the lawns, and the many working bees to help improve the site.

The site has seen significant improvement over the years, with the recent Parish Church development providing a stunning entry to the site.


Our first Principal, Br Clarence Cunningham (1981-1985), a Marist brother who had been principal of St Gregory's College Campbelltown, was appointed to John Therry and moved into the brothers' residence, later to become the OLHC presbytery. Br Clarence was responsible for the original buildings at John Therry and continued as principal until 1986 when he went to establish Mt Carmel Catholic High School at Varroville in Northern Campbelltown. Brother Clarence sadly passed away in 2011.

Our next principal, Mr Vince Villa (1986-1990) remained in the position until 1990, when he moved to the Catholic Education Office. Vince sadly passed away in 1996 after a distinguished career with the Diocese of Wollongong.

Mr Geoff Hicks (1991) was the principal for the 1991 school year, before moving to the Parramatta Diocese, where he was principal of a number of schools, before returning to the Diocese of Wollongong in 2004, working at the Catholic Education Office.

Mr Barry Buchanan (1992-2000) who had been the first assistant principal in 1981, returned as principal of John Therry in 1992, remaining in this position until 2000. Mr Buchanan had been prinicipal of St Joseph’s Catholic High School at Albion Park during the years 1985 to 1991. During Mr Buchanan’s time the William E Murray Hall was constructed, and this facility has been an important part of school life at John Therry.

Mr Peter Orman (2001-2007) returned to John Therry as principal in 2001, having been HSIE Co-ordinator in 1982. Peter finished at John Therry at the end of 2007. 

Karen Young (2008-2077) commenced as principal in 2008 and retired in 2017. Karen was previously Principal at St John the Evangelist Nowra, and had been Assistant Principal at Magdalene Catholic High School, Smeaton Grange.

Wayne Marshall (2018-2022) commenced as principal in 2018 and remained in the position until 2022, when he moved to St John the Evangelist Catholic High School Nowra.

Bradley McAllister commenced as principal in 2023, graduating in 1995 from John Therry as a student.

Father John Joseph Therry

Father John Therry - 2010 - for JTCHS.jpg

Father Therry was born in the city of Cork (Ireland) in 1790 and was ordained as a priest in 1815. At the age of 29 he accepted the challenge of being a missionary and along with Father Conolly sailed in the “Janus” on the 5th December 1819 to the colony of New South Wales.

Although Father Therry and Father Conolly were officially accredited chaplains, drawing a token salary, they were to find Governor Macquarie had set conditions by which their activities were regulated and controlled.

Father Therry was an uncompromising realist, he appears to have obeyed regulations when it was possible and ignored them when he saw it as necessary. Father Therry was travelling hundreds of miles seeking out his flock. Demands came from hospitals, gaols, farms, Government establishments, his own day and Sunday schools and from road gangs and convicts.

Of main concern was the lack of a permanent church and the need for educational facilities. Father Therry addressed both these issues, starting with the building of a church on a block of land near Hyde Park and despite all the difficulties of finance, started schools and was to make education a priority wherever possible.

Father Therry was to live on to see the foundation he had put down with so much work, being built upon by the other priests. He had provided the first Catechism, built the first schools, established the first patter on organised Catholic life. On 25th May 1864, aged 73 Father Therry, now with the title of Archpriest, passed away after a brief illness. Surviving the loneliness and responsibility, Father Therry had done it tough. It was from his turbulent efforts, that the colonial faith had sprung to life, to which we are today living memorials.

Adapted from “John Therry Catholic High School, 1981-2000: 20 Years Young” pages 7-11.