The Swiss Ingenbohl-based Sisters of Mercy of the Holy Cross established themselves in Hungary in 1865. Their first novitiate was founded in Zsámbék, a village 30 kilometres west of Budapest, in 1901.
In 1904 the order got a derelict building from the municipality for educational purposes. They undertook the task of renovation and founded a Roman Catholic girls’ school and a kindergarten, where the language of education was Hungarian. The higher elementary girls’ school opened in 1905. In the years 1921-25 the sisters also ran a higher elementary school for boys. The scope of education widened continuously, and in 1929 a teacher training institute was started.
The sisters turned the Baroque building of the one-time Zichy mansion into one of the most modern, best equipped teacher training institutes of the country. Not only did they rebuild the ramshackle mansion but also extended it with new wings, more storeys and bought additional buildings, gardens, a park, a lake and some land.
The first graduation ceremony took place in 1934.
In 1938-39 the sisters opened a lyceum and on a newly acquired land they had a playground and a tennis court built.
On 30 June 1948 the teacher training institute and the lyceum was brought under state control, its equipment was taken away and given to other, state owned teacher training institutes.
In 1948 the process of teacher training in Zsámbék was broken.
In September 1977, in order to reduce a teacher shortage of long years, the Minister of Education gave permission for the establishment of an affiliated department of the Esztergom Teacher Training College in Zsámbék. The firs academic year was started with 78 students and 10 teachers. The institute developed year by year, and soon there was a new, 16-classroom school built in Zsámbék, which complied with the contemporary requirements of practical training.
From 1 September 1983 the institute could perform its activity as an independent college called the Zsámbék Teacher Training College. It trained primary school and kindergarten teachers.
The third period began on 1 July 1993, when the College was taken back by the Catholic Church in Hungary. The properties were returned to the previous owners, the Sisters of the Holy Cross. Management duties were undertaken by the Székesfehérvár Diocese. As a further stage of development, five new departments were established between 1992-94 in addition to the already existing seven.
At that time the number of students attending primary school and kindergarten teacher training, the newly started social pedagogy training, the religious and postgraduate courses was nearly 1000.
The ever-increasing number of the students of teacher training required a continuous development of the system of practical training. In 1993 the college management decided to establish a practice school of its own the first year of which started on 1 September 1995. Later on, two more church-owned primary and secondary schools became the practice schools of the College.
From the mid-1990’s kindergarten teacher training played an increasingly important role. To establish a practice kindergarten was a pressing necessity, as the Zsámbék local kindergarten was not able to see to the growing needs. This plan was only realized in 2001 when a Budapest kindergarten was taken over by the College.
In the year 2000 the College was named after the martyr bishop Vilmos Apor. So, the College is now called Apor Vilmos Catholic College.
August 2004 brought a dramatic turn in the life of the College. The roof of the building caught fire and more than 50% of it was burned down. Because of this extensive damage the school could not be run any longer in Zsámbék.
The College moved to Vác, a town 25 kilometres north of Budapest, where buildings of suitable size were provided.
Similar to other institutes of higher education, Apor Vilmos Catholic College has also switched to the BA and MA training system. Besides kindergarten and primary school teacher degree programs, the college also offers a church cantor training program, courses in the field of infant and early childhood education, social pedagogy, vocational training programs of higher education, and postgraduate courses in adult education.
The College is developing continuously. First time in its history, in 2015, it began to establish training facilities of its own in Budapest.