The Columban Fathers had a long history in Australia, having established a branch there in 1920.
In fact, some other earliest Columban Fathers were from Australia. Fathers Luke Mullany and Romuald Hayes (who later became a bishop) were the first Australians to join the Columbans in 1922.
In spite of this, the Society had never maintained a seminary in Australia or New Zealand until 1952, when the Columbans established an Australian major seminary in Wahroonga, a suburb of Sydney.
Prior to that, Columban seminarians from Australia or New Zealand had to go to Ireland or the U.S.A. for their studies. Within a few years, the number of Columban students in the Australia/New Zealand region was increasing, and the small Wahroonga seminary could no longer accommodate them.
On January 29, 1958, a grand ceremony took place for the groundbreaking of a new Columban major seminary at North Turramurra in the Australian state of New South Wales (North Turramurra is also in the Sydney area).
The guests at the celebration included the Archbishops of Sydney, Australia and Auckland, New Zealand, along with many other regional Catholic hierarchy and lay people.
Father Timothy Connolly, the contemporary Columban Superior General, thanked the guests and announced the dedication of the North Turramurra seminary to Bishop Romuald Hayes, who had died in 1945.
The Columbans had taken another step forward in the Australian continental region and paved the way for many more vocations from “the land down under.”