Bowen's first Catholic School, St Mary's, was founded in September 1872 by two St Joseph Sisters, Sister M. Gertrude and Sister M. de Sales.
The first convent school was built in 1872 on what was then the outskirts of Bowen, now known as the corner of Powell and Sinclair Streets.
The Sisters of St Joseph remained in Bowen until they were recalled to Sydney in 1879. In 1880 a group of Diocesan Sisters were gathered together by Bishop James Quinn and given the name "Sisters of the Holy Family". These sisters were entirely under his authority and remained in Bowen until 1885.
The Sisters of Mercy arrived in Bowen in 1885. Three Sisters, the Superior, Sister Mary Modwena Taylor, Sister M. Stanislaus Kostka Harding and Sister M. Winifred Duggan came from "The Range" Convent in Rockhampton and were met by the Parish Priest, Father Weir.
In 1895, the Parish Priest, Father Jule Bucas, purchased and re-erected the old "Immigration Depot" buildings for use as a school. This new school was situated on the corner of Sinclair and Powell Streets, together with most other Parish buildings. In 1905, a new convent was erected next to the school.
A new Parish church was erected on the corner of Gordon and Sinclair Streets in 1911 and the "Immigration Depot" school was made into an extension of the Convent for the accommodation of boarders.
1927 saw another new convent erected between the church and the newly erected school. The new school "St. Mary’s" was also sited facing Gordon Street.
The new Diocese of Townsville was established in 1929. Sister Modwena and Winifred returned to Rockhampton and Sister Stanislaus stayed in this Diocese.
St Mary’s was a training school for pupil teachers up to the early 1940's and because of this, many aspiring young teachers boarded at the Convent. Many wonderful and successful teachers obtained their classification and the right to teach in state schools from St Mary’s. On Sunday 14th November, 1937 the new Montessori School, "Sancta Barbara" was officially opened by His Lordship Dr. McGuire D.D., Bishop of Townsville, in the presence of a large crowd of people. Father John Hegarty was Parish Priest at this time. Sister Mary Teresa Donoghue was the first Principal.
In 1943, Stella Maris Secondary School for Girls was set up by the Parish under the direction and leadership of Parish Priest Father Ormond Rush and given over to the expert care of the Sisters of Mercy. This Secondary School was conducted in the front room and side verandah of the existing St Mary’s School. Due to lack of vocations and a shortage of Sisters, this school closed in 1971.
In 1960, the original Convent building situated between the school and the church in Gordon Street was shifted to face Poole Street and altered so that the original Convent now forms the top story of our existing Convent and was built on underneath. The boarding facilities were added beside the Convent to form one large building.
In 1985, our new school on Poole Street, known also as St. Mary’s School, was opened. This school started operation on Monday 15th July and was officially opened by His Lordship Bishop Raymond Benjamin on Saturday 21st September. The previous St. Mary’s School facing Gordon Street was demolished, making way for extensive playing and sports areas.