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St. Columba's College, Essendon

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

St. Columba's College
Essendon, Victoria
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; 121 years ago (1897)
Founder Mother Ursula Bruton
Headmistress Ms. April Honeyman
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 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.

Notable alumnae

External links

This page was last edited on 11 August 2018, at 23:06
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