College History

St Mark's College was established in 1878. It has a long tradition that is linked very closely to the development of Port Pirie and the impact of the Catholic Church in the region.

Historical timeline

St Mark’s school was first established in 1878. In 1890 the Sisters of the Good Samaritan arrived and became responsible for the school. The land upon which the College now stands was donated by the McNally family. In 1956 the Salesians of Don Bosco arrived and established a boy’s secondary college, Salesian College. In 1975 four Catholic school sites in Port Pirie amalgamated to form St Mark’s College. The campus at Fatima finally closed in 2002 and the school came together as one in the 100 hectare area.


Easter Sunday, Bishop Gallagher announced the Salesian Fathers would open a Boy’s School the following year with Grades 6 and 7. The Witness commented that “because we are Catholics we will of course have to aid the state by building the school ourselves and the burden will be great." This same year saw the opening of Fatima church and school.


10 February Bishop Gallagher blesses the new school “After the ceremony, the College was open for visitors and they were delighted at the beautiful classrooms. There are four of these in modern design and colours….during the afternoon a collection was taken up which resulted in 1,500 pounds being taken off the debt of 18,000 pounds, leaving 9,000 outstanding."

Fr. Kevin O’Leary and Fr. Wallace Cornell were the first Salesian teachers and they expressed “their sincerest gratitude to the good people of Port Pirie for their most generous and practical generosity.”


10 December speech night. Fr. W Cornell, the Headmaster, delivered the annual report at the College’s Speech night in Pirie Town Hall. He advised parents “The practice of sending your boy to the pictures every Saturday as a matter of course is to be deplored…Observation tells us that very few boys read anything but cheap comics. Rest assured that such reading does nothing but harm”


The opening of the new chapel and hall at the Speech Night, I. Murdock (later Salesian Principal) won the Grade 7 award for Christian Doctrine.


Inspectors report included that "the boys are treated as responsible people, able to set a proper standard for their own behaviour. This results in a happy atmosphere and tone.”


Salesian residence opened on 28 March, with the scouts forming a guard of honour.


St. Mark’s Girl’s High School opened. “A grant of $22,000 for a Science block will ensure the establishment of a Leaving Class at the Salesian College on The Terrace next year”. Russell and Yelland architects designed both buildings.


Middle School (Years 8 and 9) at Salesian College, Third and Fourth Year at St. Mark’s High, both now Co-educational. Adoption of coat of arms and motto 'to shine and burn’ and this was explained that although the world we live in is a dark and cold place, by good example and human kindness we can fill the world with light and warmth.


The four Catholic school sites in Port Pirie amalgamated to form St Mark’s College.


At a cost of $61,477 the Benedict Chapel was opened on the 4 October


Blessing of Bosco Chapel to mark 25 years of Salesian presence


Sacred Heart Home opened at Crystal Brook


Gertrude Street St. Mark’s Primary School moves to Wandereah Road


Fatima campus, St. Mark’s Junior Primary moves to Wandereah Road


16 December Fr. Jim Hoe, the last Salesian priest departs Mr Kerron Gillen appointed as lay Principal


Boarding House is established at Salesian House on the College property


The Commonwealth Government funding allows the development of the Good Samaritan Hall at Benedict (Swanbury and Penglase Architects), the refurbishment of the Bosco library.


St Mark’s Boys College –
St Mark’s Girl’s High School – Sr M Pius


St Mark’s Boys College –
St Mark’s Girl’s High School – Sr M Pius


St Mark’s Boys College – Fr J Brawley
St Mark’s Girl’s High School – Sr M Pius


St Mark’s Boys College – Fr J Brawley
St Mark’s Girls High School – Sr M Pius/John Mullin (Mar-Dec)

1974 - 1979

Father Gerard Remie SDB

1980 - 1982

Father Francis B Freeman SDB

1983 - 1987

Father Laurence J Moate SDB

1988 - 1994

Father Dennis Handley SDB

2004 (Terms 2-4)

Mr David Mezinec

2005 - 2011

Mr Kerron Gillen

2012 - 2021

Mr Greg Hay

Salesian Charism

St Mark’s College is an associate school of the Salesians of Don Bosco. In keeping with the spirit of St John Bosco, our “education is largely a matter of the heart”. At St Mark’s we become a home that welcomes, a Parish that evangelises, a school that prepares for life and a playground where friends meet.

There are eight schools around Australia who come together with a particular lens on the world and a particular viewpoint of education. There is mutual support and understanding about young people and their potential. The school develops through this shared charism and heritage of the Salesians of Don Bosco.

Salesian educational leaders from around Australia have come together to reflect on what should be important in Salesian Schools. It was decided that a measure of success in a Salesian school should not be based on a narrow empirical set of data but within a broader human and faith context. The group emerged from their deliberations with a charter of belief statements which have become the pillars of Salesian education in Australia.

In keeping with the Spirit of St John Bosco whereby “Education is a matter of the heart” and leads young people to “know that they are loved”, our Salesian school community is challenged to be:
A home that welcomes
A parish that evangelises
A school that prepares for life
A playground where friends meet and enjoy themselves

At St Mark’s College we understand ourselves as a school which is underpinned by this charter.

Good Samaritan Sisters

The traditions of the Good Samaritan Sisters remains alive in the College through an expression of care for others and the legacy of Benedictine spirituality.

In 1888 the then Bishop of Port Augusta, Dr John O’Reily, in a letter to the Mother General, invited the Good Samaritan Sisters to Port Pirie. At that time it was the first foundation of the Good Samaritan Sisters outside of Sydney. Records indicate that in 1890, when they arrived, “within a few days they were teaching over one hundred children and enduring the intense heat.”

The Sisters established schools at Gertrude Street, Solomontown, Crystal Brook and Risdon Park. For sixty seven years they carried the torch for Catholic education in Port Pirie. Today their legacy lives on through the Benedictine tradition instilled throughout St Mark’s College.


455 The Terrace, Port Pirie South Australia 5540
T 08 8633 8800

Benedict 08 8633 8802
Bosco 08 8633 8801 or text 0428 475 539