Educating Brooklyn children for over a hundred years
On 5 February 1911 St Anthony's School Brooklyn was opened in the Catholic Church on the hill at the top of Jefferson Street. The church building was opened and blessed on 11 June 1911, and after a meeting of parishoners it was decided unanimously that a convent school school would commence in the church building. This was during the term of Father J F O'Connor SM as parish priest of St Mary's of the Angel. Brooklyn was at that time linked to the St Mary's parish.
There were forty four Catholic children attending the local state school and the Sisters of Mercy generously offered two sisters to begin the new school. They were Sisters Boniface and Fabian. Opening day brought forty three pupils but by the end of the year the numbers had risen to sixty nine. There were many difficulties for the sisters and the pupils - the building remained as one big church hall although a temporary partition about six feet high made some semblance of division for a second classroom during the week. Every Friday evening a band of men removed desks and substituted them with kneelers and pews for Sunday Mass. After Mass, the process was reversed.
The playground space on top of the hill was composed of hard clay and was very exposed. But the sisters and the pupils accepted their lot and worked hard and prayed well under these conditions for fourteen years. Exam results were good and the annual concert of a very high standard.
A later parish priest, Father Paul Kane, procured land in Taft Street. The church was resited there in 1949 and a new school built. The school was called St. Anthony's but this name was changed in 1961 and the parish and school became St Bernard's. The Sisters of Mercy continued to run the school until they withdrew in 1972 and the first lay principal was appointed in 1973, Miss Doreen Barry.