Memories from the past: Jesuits

8 Sep 2021

Above: Principal Matt Smith and students from Redfern Jarjum College 2020.

The Jesuit Fathers arrived in Australia from Austria in 1848. The Society of Jesus established their first school in 1856 which was the first Catholic boys school in South Australia, St Aloysius’ College Sevenhill, which closed 30 years later.

In 1864, Irish Jesuits arrived in Melbourne with a strong commitment to providing Catholic education.

Students Xavier College, Kew circa 1901c.

The Society of Jesus worked to establish a number of schools across Australia as both the works of the Society and at other times in partnership with local dioceses.

St Patrick’s Jesuit College in East Melbourne was founded in 1854 by Bishop of Melbourne James Goold, who, in 1864, invited the Jesuit Fathers to take control of the diocesan school which they did until the school’s closure in 1968.

Fr Joseph Dalton SJ established three Jesuit schools in Australia in three successive years, these were: Xavier College, Kew in 1878 in Melbourne, St Aloysius’ College, Milsons Point in 1879 and Saint Ignatius’ College, Riverview in 1880, both in Sydney.

These three schools continue to provide Jesuit education to students. From 1898 to 1902, the Jesuits also ran Stella Maris in Darwin and in 1938, the Jesuits established St Louis School in Perth.

St Louis School was transferred to the Archdiocese of Perth in 1971 and in 1976, the school amalgamated with Loreto Osborne to form a new co-educational school, John XXIII College.

This new school began in 1977 with Jesuit priest Fr Daven Day SJ as its founding headmaster. It remains affiliated with both the Jesuits and the Loreto sisters.

Later, Saint Ignatius’ College in Adelaide was established in 1951, and the most recent Jesuit-owned school is Redfern Jarjum College, established in 2013. This is a co-educational primary school for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in inner Sydney.

In addition, there are a number of ‘Companion Schools’, both systemic and independent Catholic schools, who want to remain congruent with the Ignatian vision, spirituality and pedagogical paradigm associated with Jesuit education. Jesuit Education Australia supports the schools in this commitment.

These schools are John XXIII College, Mt Claremont WA, Loyola College, Watsonia VIC, Saint Ignatius’ College, Geelong VIC, Xavier Catholic College, Hervey Bay QLD, and Xavier Catholic College, Ballina NSW.

Jesuit Education Australia (JEA) was established in 2017 to provide strategic oversight and governance of the educational ministry of the Society of Jesus in Australia.

The education ministry includes Jesuit involvement in tertiary education, academic research, university colleges and university chaplaincies, including Newman College and Jesuit College of Spirituality, both in Victoria.

Australian Province of the Society of Jesus, 2020, Education, accessed 16 June 2021.
Jesuit Education Australia, 2020, Our Story, accessed 16 June 2021.
Jesuit Education Australia, 2020, A History of Jesuit Education in Australia, accessed 16
June 2021.
St Aloysius’ College, 2021, Jesuit Schools in Australia, accessed 16 June 2021.
St Patrick’s College SJ, History, accessed 16 June 2021.


Pioneer Catholic Educator remembered

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Image: Fr John Neill OP OAM with Blackfriars Priory School students in 2016.  For 200 years Catholic schools have been established and staffed by pioneer clergy, religious and lay educators, many of whom devoted their entire lives to Catholic education.  "Let us not...

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