The church-school was named after the soldier-saint, Sebastian. It was built on the corner of Kadumba and Rome Streets in the grounds of the presbytery (Kadumba House).
Built in the post depression years, the year 1937 was said to have marked a new beginning for this small church school when past achievements intertwined with future visions. Funding to pay the debt on the building, as with other Catholic Churches, was heavily dependent on the financial goodwill of the parishioners.
The two-storey brick building was designed to serve the dual purpose of church and school. It was described in some detail in the Catholic Leader, which reported on the opening ceremony. The building was designed by Frank L Cullen, architect and erected by K D Morris of Holland Park. The ground floor embraced a spacious schoolroom divided into three classrooms by sliding partitions. A verandah ran the full length of the northern side of the building to provide additional classroom space when needed The church (which could accommodate 200) was located on the upper storey that could be accessed by a ‘handsome double flight of stairs’. The interior of the church was described as ‘particularly handsome’, have a low-vaulted ceiling, ample lighting conveniences’ and confessionals.
The contract price for the building was £2,300. With the addition of a septic system, furnishings, tiled roof, ‘fine ornamental fence’ and architect’s fees the total price was £3,100.
Archbishop Duhig said at the opening ceremony that the impetus for building the church-school had been to meet an urgent parish need for a Catholic place of worship and education in the area. He said that the Sisters of St Joseph would run the school and had started teaching two weeks ago and now had between 60 and 70 pupils. The Golden Jubilee publication for the Church School published in 1987 stated that Sister Pancratius and Sister Catherine had enrolled 38 pupils, ranging from 4 to 13 years of age on 27 January 1937.
Archbishop Duhig said the church-school met an urgent parish need, which he described as the “finest building in Yeronga” in its elevated position with views to the Brisbane River.
He said the Catholic Church was most active on Brisbane’s southside at the time with the construction of church buildings at the Mater Hospital, Buranda, Holland Park, Darra and Graceville.
Prior to this date the temporary church of St Sebastian was originally located in Kadumba House. The Catholic Church had purchased Kadumba House in May 1925 for just over £3000 from the four spinster daughters of William Douglas Grimes, (who was the original owner of the house). The women subsequently moved next door to 131 Kadumba Street where they had a smaller house built for them on the subdivided half-acre block.
Kadumba House became the presbytery for Father Steele and was opened and blessed on 19 April 1925 by Archbishop Duhig who was assisted by Rev. Fr. Owen Steele and Rev. Fr. Maloney.
This was a boom period of growth and construction for the Catholic Church in Brisbane. When Archbishop Duhig arrived in 1912 there were 36 catholic schools educating 6,700 children. By 1928 there were 100 Catholic schools educating 19,000 children.
Kadumba House was used as a presbytery until 1937 when it took on a new role as convent for the Sisters of St Joseph. Lay teachers were employed from 1955 onwards and in 1976 the first lay principal was appointed.
An Infants School was opened on the site in 1967 and a classroom complex was opened in 1985. This complex includes three classrooms, central hall/community area with kitchen facilities. Covered walkways look out to the central grassed area where Kadumba House once stood. Kadumba House was demolished in 1985 to make way for more playground space and these new facilities.
The ground floor of the brick church-school building is now used as an assembly hall and the upper floor as a church for St Sebastian’s School
The sanctuary was redesigned in 1987. This included creating two new vertical windows which were built in stained glass and located on either side of the altar. Other changes included redesigning the alter and repositioning the Tabernacle.
A large complex of classrooms on the site facing Kadumba Street is being constructed.