Our history and our future

Every day our students have the opportunity to connect deeply with our rich history and many traditions.

Our story truly began in 1206, when St Dominic established a convent for women in Prouille, France. From that foundation stem the many Dominican establishments – schools, colleges and universities – that, all over the world today, are centres of learning for youth.

Read more about St Dominic here: The Story of St Dominic

In 1886 a group of young Dominican nuns from Cabra in Ireland founded our college in an area then regarded as rural land, and which we now know as the land of the Kaurna people. The convent the founding sisters built, and the chapel that followed in 1917, form the heart of our college grounds today.

In 135 years the rooms within have changed over and over, responding to the times and moving from their original purpose as a home to boarders and Dominican sisters, to a hub of state-of-the-art facilities.

Today we are continually inspired and shaped by our heritage and the founding Dominican sisters’ values, faith and courage. We encourage each student to find, nurture and enjoy the ‘good, the beautiful and the true’ in themselves, each other and the broader community. With a strong emphasis on social justice, we invite students to be proactive, caring citizens with a deep respect for and commitment to, each other and the world.

Sr Barbara Specht’s Historical Timeline of Cabra
December: Seven foundation members of the Dominican Order in South Australia, including Teresa Moore and Catherine Murphy, arrived in Franklin St, Adelaide from Cabra, Ireland.
February 2: St Mary’s College opened with attendance of 20 pupils and one boarder
January 4 Two more pioneer Nuns arrive from Ireland: Mother M. Columba Boylan (the future first Mother Prioress of Cabra) & Mother M. Catherine Kavanagh
Dr F. Byrne gave the Dominican Nuns a gift of 10 acres at Cabra, Clarence Park
Thought advisable to move Boarding School from the city – Clarence Park was considered
January 24: St. Mary’s Convent, Cabra, solemnly blessed and opened. Boarding and Day School opened with 37 boarders, 3 day pupils, 71 day pupils in intermediate school
Opening of St. Dominic’s Church, Cabra, and first Mass was celebrated therein.
First Veritas yearbook was produced. Golden Jubilee of the Dominican Nuns in S.A.
Old Scholars built and equipped the small kitchen for teaching Domestic Science to Boarders. Branch School opened at St.Therese, Colonel Light Gardens, the first Day School, with nuns travelling from Cabra daily.
Opening and blessing of St Brigid’s wing
Statue of the Sacred Heart was erected in front of grounds (gift of Mr. Kohff). The second Branch School opened at St. Anthony’s, Edwardstown.
Science Laboratory, outdoor stairs, scullery, classroom and dressing room were erected. Hot and cold water service was installed.
Cabra Kindergarten opened
St Vincent’s Classrooms (now part of St Dominic’s quadrangle) were built in 1950. Opening of new oval and first Sports Day on new oval. Weekly instruction of immigrant children at Woodside.
Equipping of a modern Tuck Shop
St Dominic’s Hall was built and Primary School at Cabra reorganised. End of 1958 – no more Primary Boarders taken at Cabra.
First lay sports mistress, Miss Anne Murphy
Blessing and opening of Aquinas building. First Prefects’ room in Aquinas
First Staff meeting with lay teachers in attendance
Cabra Athletics Club was established; Senior Library started
Cabra School Board formed. SRC re-formed. Building of O’Mara Wing was begun.
First Lay Deputy Principal – Tom Kendell Building began on new Biology Lab Installation of the new switchboard in Aquinas
Tom Kendell was appointed Co-Principal with Sr. Helen Northey
Primary Football team formed Cabra Boarders Football match against Rostrevor and Loreto Final intake of Grade 1 students
Co-education introduced into the Secondary School.
Siena & Canteen under construction
Feb 17: Opening and blessing of Caleruega Hall Management of school was handed over to Board of Directors – authority was formerly held by Provincial Council. Sr. Paul Henschke, last Nun as Boarding Mistress
St Mary’s Unit was established Community Living Week began
Establishment of the Learning Centre
First Lay Principal, Seamus O’Grady, was appointed
Admin. moved from Aquinas to the old Convent Building and Sisters moved to their new Convent
Boarding School closes are after 112 years (1886 – 1999)
First totally lay staff, as Sr. Anne Dolan left to be the new Congregational leader
Cabra Song was officially adopted.
Launch of the Cabra Dominican Heritage Museum on Open Night: Sr. B. Specht, Mrs. S. Hill
Celebrating 800 years since Foundation of the Dominican Order of Preachers and 130 years of education at Cabra Dominican College. Renovation of St. Catherine’s Wing to provide 10 refurbished classrooms. August: Inauguration of Dominican Education Australia Publication of Cabra Celebrates: Weaving the Threads of Dominican Spirituality.
New House System of pastoral care and student leadership: Boylan, Kavanagh, Moore and Murphy – named after founding Dominican Sisters. Replacement of roof of the Convent building, St Catherine’s and St Brigid’s Celebration of the Cabra Chapel’s centenary Amalgamation of the two libraries and the construction of the Monica Farrelly Atrium Refurbishment of O’Mara and Siena to create a purpose-built St. Mary’s Unit and a new Learning Centre Mr. Brian Schumacher left Cabra.
New Principal, Dr. Helen Riekie Official opening and blessing of the new St. Mary’s Unit, Learning Centre and Monica Farrelly Atrium, as well as the reburbished St. Catherine’s. Cabra Dominican College Facebook Page was launched.


Cabra Dominican College welcomes applications from all families seeking a Catholic education for their children.

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