The early education centre, one of five operating throughout the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, is the largest built to date with places for 124 children.
It brings to three the number of new early education centres opened this year.
There are plans to open another six early education centres in the next two years. The aim is to expand the number of centres under the St Nicholas banner to 20 within five years.
Kerri Armstrong, General Operations Manager for St Nick’s, welcomed guests and praised the directors and educators of the centres for their hard work and dedication.
“St Nicholas prides itself in providing enriched learning platforms for the very young in our community. Our facilities are not only incredible areas of wonder and discovery, but also provide authentic and meaningful relationships with valued educators.
“We endeavour to create infrastructure that is built on Early Childhood best practice and bench mark ourselves as a premium service in the Hunter region,” said Kerri.
Guests who attended the opening were impressed by the architecture and landscape design with the outdoor play areas honouring the rural feel of the area with mud-pits and barn-like structures taking centre stage.
In his homily, Bishop Bill referred to John 13:31-35: “My little children, I give you a new commandment. Love one another just as I have loved you. By this all people will know that you are my disciples.
“The opening of St Nicholas Early Education represents the Church’s commitment to supporting families as the foundation of our society. Small children evoke what is best in us. Their goodness comes naturally but is also the result of the love and commitment of their families and carers.
“Lochinvar is a place that’s always been dedicated to the education and development of young people, with the Sisters of St Joseph central to this legacy,” he added.
Sean Scanlon, the CEO of Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, said that St Nicholas at Lochinvar provides families in the Lower Hunter region with quality, affordable care for children aged eight weeks to five years.
“We are excited to open a new St Nicholas Early Education centre in the Lower Hunter area in such an iconic location. Co-located on the same block as St Patrick’s Primary School and St Patrick’s Catholic Church, and across the road from St Joseph’s Catholic College, this new early education centre is now part of the premier education facilities in Lochinvar.
“It will be fantastic to witness the connection of St Nick’s with St Patrick’s and St Joseph’s and the collaborative bond that will only grow over time.
“We look forward to welcoming families looking for exceptional care and quality education for their children to St Nick’s at Lochinvar,” Mr Scanlon said.
A special part of the blessing and official opening was the Smoking Ceremony and Welcome to Country led by Johnny Robinson and Wonnarua man and student of St Joseph’s Catholic College, Wil Avery. They were assisted by students from St Joseph’s. The school choir from St Patrick’s Primary School sang a medley of songs to entertain guests.
To learn more about St Nicholas Early Education centres, visit their website.