It has been a pleasure to welcome students and staff back on site, and I know that everyone is looking forward to a productive and engaging term ahead.
I provided an update regarding our COVID-safe measures, as we commence the term, in the letter emailed to all families on 26 April. Please take the time to review these measures.
We opened the term with a wonderful assembly, celebrating the achievements of Term 1, and acknowledging Anzac Day with a special service. At this time, when war rages in Ukraine, it is especially pertinent for us to remember, and learn from, the conflicts of the past. It was a privilege to welcome Bradley Clark, Bill Anderson and James Cooper, past servicemen who are either friends or family members of our students. They participated in the wreath laying ceremony, and joined us for the remainder of the assembly. Their presence made this an especially significant service.
In this special anniversary year for the College, I spoke to the students about the first call for students in 1897, and the characteristics of the first Principal, Mother Ursula Bruton.
This is the advertisement for the College that appeared in the Essendon Gazette on 1 July 1897.
ST COLUMBA’S LADIES COLLEGE
BUCKLEY STREET ESSENDON
Conducted by the Sisters of Charity.
Under the patronage of His Grace the Archbishop of Melbourne
The course of studies embraces all the branches of a high-class English Education: Latin and the Modern languages; Elocution and Calisthenics; Vocal and Instrumental Music, including Pianoforte, Organ and Violin; Painting, Illuminating, and Needlework in all its branches.
Pupils are prepared for the Matriculation Examination, Melbourne University, and also for the Theoretical and Practical Musical Examinations, Royal Academy, London. Every attention is paid to the Moral and Religious training of the pupils, and the acquirement by them of natural and refined manners is made the subject of constant watchfulness.
The College will open on Tuesday 13th, July, 1897. Prospectus forwarded on application to the Superioress.
Does that look like anything we do today – in parts yes. I want to focus on who the Superioress was – Mother Ursula Bruton.
At the end of 1895, Mother Ursula was transferred to Melbourne from Sydney. She was commissioned with the task of establishing a convent for the Sisters of Charity in Essendon. She also took responsibility for St Monica’s in Essendon and found herself with a primary school which catered for students only as far as eighth grade. She began an enthusiastic and tireless campaign. With resources secured by convincing local community members about the importance of a quality Catholic education for all, a commitment to hard work and an endeavour to make a positive difference to others through education, she purchased the Gillespie Mansion (now known as the Bruton Building) and opened as St Columba’s Ladies College on 13 July 1897. Sadly, she was not permitted to see St Columba’s College flourish. She died rather suddenly on 4 November 1899 after developing pneumonia. The report in the Essendon Gazette of the time states:
Simple in her life, beautiful in her mind, her remembrance will be long cherished by the Catholics of Essendon, by folk of other denominations and particularly by the scholars of the convent, who adored her and were deeply affected by her death.
From writings about the establishment of our College, this is what we know about our first College Principal – Of strong and resolute character, she was blessed with a uniformly calm and gentle manner, her very presence commanded attention and respect. She was renowned for her discipline, tempered by a loving heart, and a warm concern for each one under her care. She had a special gift of making each student feel that she had a personal interest in her and all her concerns.
We are grateful to this legend of a woman for what we enjoy today, for her visionary leadership, her belief in the power of education, especially for girls, for her commitment to partnership and for using her talents and the resources at hand to empower and lift others. Remember, the quote I shared with you at the beginning of the year – one of my favourites:
“start where you are, use what you have, do what you can”
Mother Ursula Bruton all over, I believe. Today, we remember Mother Ursula Bruton, and give thanks for a woman of unconquerable spirit whose vision to educate young women beyond early secondary school blazed a trail for girls’ education years before its time.
Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Election Statement 2022
I have attached a statement
from the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference. It encourages us to consider how our vote can best support the principles of Catholic Social Teaching. Some food for thought. The statement offers a different perspective about the key issues for our society as we consider the best way to exercise our democratic right to contribute to the future of our nation.
“As we offer this statement, we acknowledge no one political party fully embodies Catholic social teaching. Nevertheless, we offer this statement to encourage Catholics and people of good will to reflect on the good they can do for their community by using their vote for the good of all.”
Global Mentoring Program
As part of our association with the Alliance of Girls schools Australasia, we have two current students who will participate in the 2022 Global Student Mentoring Programme. This is a mentorship program for Year 11 students designed to help them fulfil their potential, build skills for the achievement of future goals and create international connections with like-minded young women.
We congratulate Monique Davood and Sarah Truccolo who expressed interest in the program and have been selected to participate in the pilot program this year.
Monique Davood and Sarah Truccolo
The program was also seeking past students to act as mentors, and after advertising amongst our Alumnae, Emily Abdilla, a past student of the College, has been selected to mentor Monique and Sarah. We look forward to hearing about the opportunity that this provides for our students.