Welcome to MacKillop Catholic College

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Penola House

empathy and community

Inspired by the Josephite tradition


House Leader:  Mr. Jamie Di-lenno


Penola House is named in honour of the small township of Penola in South Australia where Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop started her first school, named St Joseph’s School. The little school opened on the Feast of Saint Joseph, 19 March 1866. Penola was also the place where Mary accepted Fr Woods’ invitation to become the first Sister of St Joseph. In this welcoming community, Mary found friendship and hospitality. She taught all children in the Penola region; however, it was Aboriginal children to whom she gave particular attention. The dream of an education that was available to all children was embraced by Mary’s sisters Annie and Lexie, who taught classes in the Penola church and part of their rented cottage. Later their brother John transformed a disused stable into a schoolhouse, so that on the Feast of St Joseph, 19 March 1866 the school opened. It was at Penola that Mary MacKillop, Fr Tenison Woods and others nurtured a vision for Catholic education that was inclusive, where all were respected and everyone experienced hospitality.

Today the Woods MacKillop Schoolhouse in Penola is on the Heritage and State Register as a schoolroom museum. It is a very special place where Mary MacKillop's youthful presence can still be felt. The schoolhouse is evidence of her commitment to God through a life devoted to others, her vulnerability and self-doubt, her competence as a teacher, her vitality, her sense of humour and her serenity.


Penola House members are friends to everyone. They serve God in the poor and value education. Everyone in Penola House is committed to their own educational journey while advocating for educational equality for children in rural Australia. Penola House does all the good it can, and when members see a need they do something about it.

Value:          Empathy

Motto:          Empathy and Community

Penola House motto is Empathy and Community. At the heart of the house is empathy where resilience and compassion are nurtured. Principally, Penola House is responsive to the educational needs of children in rural areas of Australia and communities who are in need.

Colour:         Golden Yellow

Penola House colour is golden yellow. This colour has stood for wisdom and intellect throughout the ages. It reflects the warmth of the sun, the embrace of friends, happiness and self-confidence.

Symbols:   The Tasmanian little penguin and hand of empathy

The Tasmanian little penguin is unique to our waters. Its strength comes in numbers. It is a determined, self-disciplined and purposeful animal. Master of the waters it gives up much for the sake of others. It takes pride in its own appearance. The penguin inspires every member of Penola House to be proud, have self-confidence and to sacrifice much in order to become better people.

The hand within the hand represents the compassionate side of Penola House. Members are responsive to the needs of others, always providing a hand up. We are resilient, proud and, with the strength of numbers, together support everyone in the community.

Serving: Penola House is of service to children and rural communities in Australia.

House Prayer:

Penola Prayer

God of new beginnings,

at Penola you set fire in the hearts of

Mary MacKillop and Julian Tenison Woods,

a vision and dream to meet the urgent needs of their day.

They founded a community of Catholic Sisters, the Josephites,

who would bring freedom and justice to many thousands of Australians.

We pray today that we may know deep within us what you desire for each of us.

We pray for the whole Josephite family, of whom we are a part,

that we will live the Josephite values of compassion, tolerance and love

with empathy.