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St. Columba's College, Essendon

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

St. Columba's College
Essendon, VIC
Coordinates 37°45′27″S 144°54′51″E / 37.7574°S 144.9143°E / -37.7574; 144.9143
Type Catholic all-female secondary
Motto Latin: Fidelis et Fortis
("Faithful and Strong")
Established 1897
Founder Mother Ursula Bruton
Grades 7–12
Enrolment ~970
Colour(s) Green, Navy Blue and Gold             
Affiliations Roman Catholic, Sisters of Charity

St. Columba's College is an all-female Roman Catholic secondary school in the Melbourne suburb of Essendon.


After taking responsibility for St Monica's Parish Primary School in Moonee Ponds in 1896, Mother Ursula Bruton purchased the property at 139 Buckley Street to provide secondary education for the girls from St Monica's. She believed that this was needed so that young women could take their rightful place in society. Mother Ursula was the first Principal and named the school St Columba's.

Columba was an Irish saint and a great scholar, who lived in the sixth century. The College motto chosen was "Fidelis et Fortis" meaning "faithful and strong", and the shield with its crown and dove reflected the Sisters of Charity's crest and Columba's name ("colm cille" meaning "church dove" in Irish). The first classes were held on 13 July 1897 for 47 students.

The initial educational program provided a broad and liberal education for young women and in 1900 presented its first candidates for matriculation. The school has a proud history of excellence in education and the history books indicate that music, languages and the visual arts have always been central in the curriculum.


St Columba's community is large and diverse. The school has evolved throughout its history into a living and working community where the many activities offered connect all members and create a sense of belonging. The College staff work in partnership with students and their parents to provide valuable learning and life experiences. St Columba's aims to educate young women to be compassionate and confident, and who are well equipped to face the challenges of the 21st Century. Parents are invited to become involved in the community. They are part of the consultation process on future directions of the school, attend organised functions and activities, or participate in the formal parent groups that support the work of the school. These are the Parents and Friends and Ladies Auxiliary, The Columbines who support the Dance Program and the Friends of Music (FOM). Students are provided with a wide range of out-of-classroom activities which link them with their peers, teachers, their own and other parents. Leadership programs provide opportunities for enhancing school life, participating in decision making, supporting peers and organising activities. Relationships of respect are fostered, as is a social responsibility - in the local, national and international community.


The seven Houses and their associated colours are:

  • Cater (Purple) - After Sister Mary Lawrence Cater, who was the youngest of the five Pioneer Sisters and became the Head of a school for orphans at Parramatta.
  • Cahill (Yellow) - After Sister Mary John Cahill, who was the eldest of the Pioneer Sisters and whose special ministry was with prisoners in Sydney, Parramatta and Hobart, as well as giving religious instruction in churches in Sydney and Hobart.
  • Cunningham (Green) - After Sister Mary Xavier Cunningham, who was the first Australian to enter the Sisters of Charity. She was also the Matron of St. Vincent's Hospital for twenty two years.
  • Williams (Blue) - After Sister Mary Xavier Williams, who was a Novice at the time of arrival in Australia and her Profession of Vows was the first Profession in the colony. She was one of three Sisters who went to Hobart in 1847 where she visited gaols, hospitals and the homes of the poor.
  • O'Brien (Orange) - After Sister Mary Francis de Sale O'Brien, who was sent by Mary Aikenhead to Paris to be trained in nursing and hospital management. She also left Sydney and ministered in Hobart.
  • Bruton (Red) - After Sister Mary Ursula Bruton, who was the first Principal of St. Vincent's College, Potts Point and opened St. Columba's College, Essendon in 1897.
  • De Lacy (Pink) - After Sister Mary Baptist de Lacy, who was the only one of the Pioneer Sisters who entered the Sisters of Charity, specifically for the Australian Mission. She was trained in Nursing and was the Foundress of St. Vincent's Hospital, Sydney, which was the first hospital opened by the Sisters in Australia.

Previous houses

Prior to the current houses, the eight Houses and their associated colours were:

  • Caritas (Purple) - The Latin word for Charity, in recognition of the fact that St Columba's is a Sisters of Charity establishment.
  • Chisholm (Yellow) - After Caroline Chisholm who was noted for her many social service activities.
  • Columba (Navy Blue) - After St Columba, the patron of the College.
  • Cuthbert (Green) - After Betty Cuthbert, one of Australia's great sportswomen.
  • Franklin (Light Blue) - After Miles Franklin, well known for her contribution to Australian literature.
  • Gilmore (Grey) - After Dame Mary Gilmore, another Australian literary figure.
  • Lyons (Red) - After Dame Enid Lyons, a politician in her own right, and wife of an early Prime Minister.
  • Melba (White) - After Dame Nellie Melba, the Australian world-famous soprano.

The Sisters of Charity

In establishing the Religious Sisters of Charity in 1815 Mary Aikenhead was committed to responding to the needs of the poor in Ireland and she confirmed this commitment by having her Sisters take an additional vow of service to the poor. Mary and her fellow Sisters became the first walking nuns breaking with a tradition of religious orders by moving out of their convents and going to the poor. Mary Aikenhead believed in Divine Providence and the importance of the best education and training for new ministries. She went to York in England for her own training before being professed and when she decided to establish a hospital in Dublin, she sent some of her sisters to France for training as nurses. In 1838 five Sisters of Charity arrived in Sydney from Ireland, the first religious sisters to arrive in Australia. Their arrival was the result of an invitation to Mary Aikenhead to send some sisters to work with the Catholic convicts. Their first Ministry was to female convicts in the Parramatta jails. They then extended their role to establishing schools in the Sydney district. The Sisters of Charity (now separately constituted as the Sisters of Charity of Australia) have remained in education on the East Coast of Australia since this time and have been involved in Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Institutes. Today the Sisters of Charity have four schools: St Vincent's College Potts Point; Mount St Michael's College Brisbane; CLC Eltham; and St Columba's College. Inspired by their founder Mary Aikenhead, the Sisters of Charity have had a tradition of over 150 years of leadership and innovation in Health Care, Aged Care, Research and Education in Australia. The Sisters of Charity Health Service is now the largest non-government, not-for-profit health care provider in Australia including St Vincent's Hospitals in Melbourne and Sydney.

Notable alumnae

Co-curricular program

Co-curricular activities are highly valued and all students are encouraged to participate. They are seen as an integral part of the learning experience at St Columba's and a broad range of activities are maintained to ensure that all students have opportunities to pursue new challenges and have experiences of success. The College enjoys an excellent reputation for its Performing Arts program. Music, Dance and Drama are offered through to the VCE level. The Instrumental Music Program involves 150 students having lessons in singing, and a wide range of instruments; and 300 students from Years 8 to 12 have private dance lessons. There are many opportunities for student performance in all areas within the College and in the wider community. The College has had significant success in the Rock Eisteddfod Challenge reflecting the strength of the Dance program. St Bernard's College and St Columba's combine to put on a very successful Drama and Music performance and there are three choirs and two bands as well as a number of ensembles for students to join. The School is part of the Secondary Catholic Girls Schools Association and Catholic All Schools Sports Competition and enters a wide range of inter-school sports competitions throughout the school year. The Interhouse Athletics and Swimming Sports Days are an integral part of the school calendar. There is an annual bike ride, and run, that combine the opportunity for physical exercise and support for social justice initiatives. The Student Representative Council (SRC) is an important group in the school and provides a formal opportunity for student leadership. The SRC members work enthusiastically to represent their peers and organise school activities such as St Columba's Day.

Rock Eisteddfod

In 2003, St. Columba's College were named the national winners with 'Cabaret Australia'. In 2006, St. Columba’s College were named the winners of the Go For Your Life Hot 30 Rock Eisteddfod Challenge Melbourne Premier Final. The performance ‘Fear or No Fear’ looked at the state of fear our society exists in as a result of continuing acts of terrorism and war and the spirit of humanity triumphing over this. The judges praised their incredibly professional level of performance skill, detailed costumes ability to meaningfully convey a powerful message.The 2006 National TV Special crowned State Finalist St Columba's College as the National 2006 Winners, earning them a cheque for $1000. On December 13, 2008, St Columba's College won the National Finals of the Rock Eisteddfod Challenge with their performance 'Women's Rites', which looked at the issues that surround women's rights in societies today. In September, the school came second in the Melbourne Premier Division Grand Final. They then went on to win the nationals.

Rock Eisteddfod Results







-2008 -2012

External links

This page was last edited on 5 December 2017, at 10:56.
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