Ambitious plans

Due to growing numbers of students, in November 1954, Archbishop Mannix and his brothers on the Episcopal Board of Trustees, purchased a 70-acre property in the new and fast growing suburb of Glen Waverley, for the purposes of a new seminary. The elevated site, situated on the junction of Waverley and View-Mount Roads, afforded a magnificent panorama of the city, Port Phillip Bay, the Mornington Peninsula and the Dandenongs.

The plans for the theologate were amibitious. Dominating the design was the chapel, situated at the centre of the building and designed to accommodate 500. The 200m ceiling and 480m length evoked God’s majesty, while the marble reredos and baldachino focussed attention on the main altar and tabernacle. Fourteen side altars were fitted into the cloister behind the main sanctuary, and another thirteen side altars in the nave catered for priestly guests and retreatants in the days before concelebration of the Holy Mass became common. Cloisters connected the chapel to the residential wings of the building.

Immediately in front of the chapel was the five-storey administration block and faculty residence, surmounted by a 490m tower. North and south wings, each four storeys, would flank the central building.

The lower floors of the South Wing housed the dining room, kitchen, and common rooms, while the upper floors accommodated 100 students. Connecting the South Wing and Administration block were music and meeting rooms. On the extreme south a convent for the Sisters of St Joseph of Cluny was planned, but never built. A completely self-contained single-storey home for the twelve nuns who constituted the domestic staff, the plans included an oratory, dining rooom, parlours and common rooms.

The North Wing would furnish classrooms, lecture theaters, and an assembly hall on its lower floors, and accommodate another 100 students on its upper floors. The College library would connect the North Wing and Administration block. Like the convent, the North Wing was never built.

Student life

The seventy-three seminarians who arrived at Glen Waverley on 1 March 1960, were pleased to learn that on four nights a week, they were permitted to stay up until 10:30pm, while their Werribee brothers continued to retire at 9:45pm. The hour for rising, however, was unchanged: 5:55am.

Within eighteen months, the students transformed 3300 square meters of brick-strewn clay into newly seeded lawn, planted two hundred and fifty trees, and leveled enough ground to start work on a basketball court and two tennis courts.

In addition to the efforts of the Grounds & Building Committee, the Sports Committee, committed to the construction of a nine-hole golf course, but was hindered by the prolific growth of blackberry bushes. The Committee found greater cause for encouragement on the footy field. The ‘Wave’ theologians were the victors at the inaugural inter-College Footy Clash, hosted by the philosophers back in Werribee. However, the theologians were resolutely defeated at rematches throughout the rest of the 1960s.

Having settled into the new College, the seminarians felt the first effects of the Council occurring in Rome. During this time the teachings of the Second Vatican Council began to be implemented at both Werribee and Glen Waverley, changing the academic curriculum, the liturgical life and the model of priestly formation of the seminary.

“Dialogue Masses” were more frequently used and a special course in liturgical music was provided “to keep pace with the trend for lay participation.” Following the advice of the Council Fathers, outside pastoral experience was incorporated into the formation programme. In Scriptural and Theological Studies, too, one student recalls “the fresh winds of change blowing through the lecture halls.”

Closure and Sale

Sadly, a decline in priestly vocations accompanied these winds of change, and it was decided to reunite the two faculties of Werribee and Glen Waverly. In 1969 the Board of Trustees announced plans to reunite the philosophy and theological faculties, and relocate Corpus Christi College. Both the Glen Waverley and Werribee Colleges was sold in 1972.

The Glen Waverly site was redeveloped by the Victorian Police Force as a training college (The Glen Waverley property was soon remembered by its former residents as “Copper Christi”). The Werribee site was also purchase by the State Government of Victoria and is now a museum run by the National Trust.