Welcome to St Columba’s College. Story is a very important part of so many societies and communities, across our world, in the past and in the present. Our story centres on the life of Jesus Christ. He invites us to enter into a relationship with God and to encounter authentically all who share our world, as we strive to build a world of love, hope, compassion and justice.
This story is illuminated by the life, vision and spirituality of an Irish woman, born on 19 January 1787 in Cork, Ireland, named Mary Aikenhead. Mary was born into a privileged family. At the age of 16, Mary listened to a sermon on the parable of Dives and Lazarus (Luke 16: 19-31) and was left with a desire to serve God’s chosen people – the poor – rather than the call to monastic life in the convent. On 1 September 1815, Mother Mary Augustine Aikenhead founded the Sisters of Charity, with the motto ‘Caritas Christi urget nos’ – The love of Christ impels us. In 1838, Mary Aikenhead sent five sisters to Australia to assist the poorest of the poor. Since the Sisters’ arrival in 1838, the continued love for the poor has seen schools, orphanages, hospitals and outreach programs opened around Australia. One such school was St Columba’s College, opened in 1897 by Mother Ursula Bruton, a Sister of Charity.
The Sisters, at times called “A cause for trouble”, have challenged injustices since their founding. Working with the marginalised in society, the Sisters have supported and assisted many individuals and communities, including those affected by isolating illnesses such as HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, those in professions such as prostitution, the unemployed, prisoners and addicts. The Sisters have also continued to work in areas of need such as rural wellbeing in remote and drought affected areas and the support of refugees and asylum seekers.
In 2008, in order to preserve and continue the important work of the Sisters in Australia, Mary Aikenhead Ministries (MAM) was established, becoming the first in the world to combine health and education divisions under their governance. Mary Aikenhead’s legacy continues today, not only through the tireless work of the Sisters and staff within the MAM governance structure, but also through the students of St Columba’s College, who continue to make their mark on the world through advocacy and action.