Campus History

Signadou Campus

The name “Signadou” derives from a legend associated with Dominic de Guzman, who founded the Dominican Order in the thirteenth century.  Praying for guidance in his life’s work, Dominic was given a “Sign of God” (Signe de Dieu) directing him to teach the truth throughout the university towns of Europe.  Following the tradition of Dominic, the Dominican Sisters assumed the work of education and established schools and colleges in five continents.

In response to the invitation of the Catholic bishops, the Sisters came to Australia from Ireland and England.   They arrived in 1867 and established their first school in Maitland, NSW.  The Teacher Training College for Dominican Sisters was founded in Maitland in 1926.  After the devastating Hunter Valley floods in 1955, the College was relocated to Wahroonga, Sydney.   The Dominicans agreed and the College was moved to Canberra, opening in 1963.

From 1966, in response to changes in Catholic Education, especially the decline in the number of religious sisters teaching in the schools and the corresponding demand for lay teachers to replace them, Signadou admitted lay people to its courses.  The campus has become a major provider of primary teachers for the Canberra and Goulburn archdiocese and for the dioceses of New South Wales and beyond.  The Schools of Education, Theology and Social Work offer undergraduate and postgraduate courses at the campus.


The Dominican Fathers opened the Blackfriars Priory in 1967 at the time when in keeping with the Second Vatican Council, Religious houses were to be established in the capital cities of each country.

The Dominican life of the Order is a simple, joyous spirituality centered on God’s Grace and Mercy.

Saint Dominic was born into the family of a Spanish Nobleman in the year 1170.  Dominic founded an order for men preachers and for women religious, this was approved by the Pope Honorius III.  Dominic sent the preachers to the Universities throughout Europe.

The architect for Signadou and Blackfriars was Fr Bonaventure Leahy O.P., a man of great precision, he paid meticulous attention to every detail.  The mosaics in Blackfriars are the work of Fr Maurice Keating O.P., these depict the great men and women of the Dominican family whose lives helped to shape the Order.