Although Mt Maria College, Mitchelton and Mt Maria College, Enoggera have shared the same title since 1992, each had its own identity and culture which have contributed to the development of the Mt Maria College of 2010 and beyond……
The History of Mt Maria College…
1930 – 1978:
As far back as 1930 the site at Mt Maria Mitchelton was established as a home for girls by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd. It became home to a diverse mixture of young women, ranging from orphans and the intellectually impaired to others who had been declared as “uncontrollable”. To a large extent the Sisters were supported in this undertaking by volunteers until the State Government agreed to contribute some much needed funding.
By the 1950’s and 60’s there were up to 60 girls in residence, some as young as 12. Around that time a legend grew surrounding the supposed presence of ‘Theresa’ the convent ghost. To this day the story of the ‘ghost’ is passed on to new students as part of their induction into Mt Maria College.
By the early 1970s changing government and societal attitudes, along with financial difficulties, brought about the closure of the Good Shepherd home. However, the laundry managed by the Sisters remained operational on the site for another eight year.
In 1970, Marcellin College was established at the Enoggera site as a Marist School for Boys, commencing with students in Years 5,6 and 7. Over the following six years, class levels were added and enrolment numbers grew. The first Year 12 class from Marcellin College, Enoggera graduated in 1976. Over the years, Marcellin College phased out its primary schooling and became a school for Year 8-10 boys.
In 1978, responding to the rapid growth of Marcellin and its “sister” school, St. Benedict’s at Wilston (run by the Good Samaritan sisters), Brisbane Catholic Education purchased the Mt Maria site at Mitchelton. Their intention was to provide a “flow-on” from the single sex colleges of St Benedict’s and Marcellin to a separate senior campus in a co-educational setting for Years 11 and 12 – a concept that was then considered quite revolutionary in Queensland, although examples existed in New South Wales, Tasmania and Canberra. The only similar entity in Queensland at that time was Frawley College at Scarborough.
1978 – 2005:
Under the leadership of Foundation Principal, Brother Terence Heinrich, Mt Maria Senior College commenced operations in 1978, and the College was administered by the Marist Brothers until Brother Mark Farrelly completed his tenure in 1993. Mrs. Gabrielle Power West followed Brother Mark as the first lay principal of Mt Maria Senior in 1994.
In December 1991, after an 18 month process of consultation, St Benedict’s College, Wilston, and Marcellin College, Enoggera officially closed their doors and consigned their names to the pages of Mt Maria’s history. With the traditions of the Good Samaritan Sisters and the Marist brothers as its cornerstone, the new college – Mt Maria Junior Secondary College – emerged in January 1992 at the Enoggera site as a co-educational college for students from Year 8 to Year 10. Within a few years the titles of the two schools changed to Mt Maria College, Enoggera, and Mt Maria College, Mitchelton. The senior students of 1996 were the first graduates to complete their schooling from Year 8 to Year 12 under the “Mt Maria” title. The adoption of the “Mt Maria” title to identify each campus was a significant step on the road to eventual amalgamation into one College.
Until the end of 2005 the two colleges continued to operate as separate school communities. Although there was a clear link between the campuses, a natural progression from Year 10 to the senior college, and many activities were combined, each community had its own uniform, a separate administration and principal. However, more change was in the air, and during 2005 extensive planning was carried out in preparation for the amalgamation of the two Colleges to become one College across the two campuses.
2006 – 2010 and beyond:
Commencing in January 2006, the teal and white of the Senior College and the jade and white of the Junior College were replaced by the new uniform of maroon, navy and white of the newly amalgamated Mt Maria College. The College continued its colourful history as a combined Catholic coeducational school, using both campuses and allowing for greater strength in both educational and pastoral aspects for students. This new Mt Maria College was united under one Principal and administered by Brisbane Catholic Education.
In 2009, after consultations with all the stakeholders, the decision was made by Brisbane Catholic Education to re-locate the Enoggera community to the Mitchelton site. Plans were drawn up and architects engaged to enable the next steps to be taken to redefine Mt Maria College from 2010 as one entity: a coeducational Catholic secondary college located on one campus – the beautiful site of the original Mt Maria Senior College.
Speaking on behalf of the Marist Brothers at the end of their era of administration in 1993, Brother Mark expressed his hopes for the future of the college: “For fifteen years a dozen Marist Brothers have contributed to the foundation and early formation of our beloved Mt Maria Senior College. I sincerely trust that we have helped you to embed in the college community, and in your lives, at least something of Marcellin’s dream.”
Inspired by these hopes and Marcellin’s dream, and recognising also the earlier contribution of the Good Samaritan Sisters to the development of its identity, Mt Maria College continues to hold steadfastly to the traditions, values and spirit of St Benedict and St. Marcellin Champagnat which were an intrinsic part of its establishment and history.
The Marist tradition of education has evolved over 200 years and forms the basis of Marist schools which operate in 75 countries across the globe. The Marist Brothers are also known as the Little Brothers of Mary. They are a diverse group of men committed to the common principle of making Jesus Christ known and loved, in the way of Mary, especially amongst the young and neglected. The passion for Christ and humanity these men exhibit is a living example of the inspiration Marcellin Champagnat used to respond to the challenges of his time. ( http://www.maristoz.edu.au/ )
As a Marist School, Mt Maria College derives its ethos from the founder of the Marist Brothers, Saint Marcellin Champagnat (1789 – 1840). The Christian education of youth, particularly those of rural areas, was his first love, following the terrible religious persecutions of the French Revolution. That is why he founded the Marist Brothers in 1817 at La Valla, a little village in the Loire region of France.
Foundational characteristics of Marist Education are:
Mt Maria College is a School community built on the relationships and principles of a loving Christian family. This means the needs of each student are addressed in a spirit of partnership, shared responsibility and mutual support.
There is a sense of life being shared across the College community, with successes and limitations being readily acknowledged. There is a commitment to the development of the ideals of mutual trust, forgiveness and reconciliation. The College family spirit respects the dignity and recognises the needs of the young people who attend the College, particularly those who are most vulnerable. Where special needs of any type are identified, these become a particular focus of care and concern.
Mt Maria College reinforces the Christian values children learn from their loving families – values we believe are an essential part of Christian education and of every child’s healthy development. Our pastoral care program under the care of our Year Coordinators, Pastoral Care Program Coordinator and Pastoral Care Teachers work actively to foster this sense of family spirit.
The approach at Mt Maria College is to educate by being present to young people in ways that show all students are cared for personally. Relationships built on care, trust and respect foster a positive environment for the development within students of a commitment to the living out of Christian values within their lives. Teachers make time to get to know their students and their presence to them extends beyond the classroom in a multitude of activities and experiences, Champagnat Day and sporting carnivals. In this way relationships of openness and trust are established and developed. Within such an environment students receive the social and emotional support they require to continue to grow into the fullness of their humanity as desired for them by Jesus Christ.
Our Campus Ministers takes time to circulate through the College at breaks, and support the activities of the many Senior Committees run by Year 12 students. College Counsellors are available to both staff, students and their families to support them when in need.
I have come that you may have life and have it to the full” JOHN 10:10
Love of Work
The Marist Brothers follow the example of their Founder, St Marcellin Champagnat, who came from a hardworking rural background. He gave himself wholeheartedly to every undertaking whether it was personal studies, building houses and schools, visiting established schools, training and forming the Brothers or communicating with church and government authorities.
Mt Maria College approaches the concept of love of work in a similar way. Students and staff are encouraged to set high standards and apply themselves in the pursuit of excellence commensurate with their ability. Through love of work, students develop strength of character and solid values on which to base their lives. They are also guided in discovering the dignity of work and the satisfaction that comes from achievements reached through genuine effort.
For our College’s teaching staff, love of work ensures they strive to be innovative, flexible and creative when responding to the needs of students.
In a Marist school, simplicity is expressed primarily through interaction with young people that is genuine and undertaken without pretence or dishonesty.
The College recognises that while education is about literacy and numeracy it is also about teaching young people to be sincere and to maintain their integrity in all that they do. Classroom activities focus on the individual as well as the group. The way of educating is personal, practical and based on real life examples and experiences. Students are encouraged to retain a sense of humility and modesty in all that they do, to accept success with dignity and to learn and grow from their mistakes. We believe that encouraging students to be open, truthful and to have the strength of their convictions will assist them to develop into individuals who value themselves and others.
Through the practice of simplicity, our students achieve an integrated, balanced and loving approach to life.
In The Way of Mary
St Marcellin had a profound confidence in Mary, the Mother of Jesus, entrusting all his projects to her and looking to her for guidance and support. He joined the newly established Order of Marist priests and founded a group of teaching Brothers under the name “Marist”. In the language of the time he referred to Mary as “our Good Mother and Ordinary Resource.”
The Mt Maria community endeavours to imitate Mary’s tenderness and concern for others, particularly the manner in which she lived out her faith in the face of great pain and adversity. Students are encouraged to reflect upon local, national and world events and other issues from the perspective of Gospel Values, social justice and the dignity of human beings. Such reflection leads to a deepening of the spiritual dimension of students’ lives and is reflected in their personal relationships, their commitment to the support of fund raising drives for appropriate charities, involvement in service learning and mission immersion.
St. MARCELLIN CHAMPAGNAT
Born in France in 1789, the year of the French Revolution, Marcellin Champagnat was to lead an extraordinary life, and leave an even more extraordinary legacy. Marcellin dedicated his life to founding the Marist Brothers and establishing a way of life for his followers. Marcellin’s early life was simple and unspectacular. The region in which he grew up was badly affected by the turmoil of the French Revolution. His local community was run-down, materially poor, and opportunities for education were sadly lacking. In 1813 Marcellin attended the major seminary in Lyon for his spiritual and theological formation as a priest. After his ordination as a priest on 2 July 1816, Marcellin was appointed curate to the parish of Lavalla-en-Gier.
Towards the end of 1816 Marcellin visited a young man – Jean Baptiste Montage – who was gravely ill. It distressed Marcellin that this desperate teenager was not only poor and uneducated, but also lacked any knowledge of religion and God. From this experience arose Marcellin’s fierce determination to act to redress the plight of the young people that Jean Baptiste represented. And thus the idea developed to found an order of teaching Brothers who could work to better the lives of children affected by disadvantage and lack of opportunity.
On 2 January 1817, Marcellin encouraged two young men, Jean-Marie Granjon and Jean Baptiste Audras, to join him in forming the nucleus of the Marist Brothers. Others soon followed, and La Valla thus became the birthplace of the Marist Brothers. Between 1817 and 1824 he started a primary school at La Valla which became a teacher training centre for his young Brothers. Many of these first Brothers were teenagers themselves who were attracted by the warmth, happiness and family spirit which Marcellin engendered in his communities.
Marcellin’s enthusiasm for teaching and spreading the gospel motivated his Brothers. He lived among them, teaching them how to live as a religious community, and how to care for and educate young people. His educational philosophy was a simple one: to teach children one must love them.
So from the start, Marist schools became happy places, with a friendly teaching atmosphere in which relationships among teachers and students were easy and open, and inclusiveness was the benchmark – everyone was welcomed and loved. This is what Marcellin referred to as “the family spirit” which, to this day, touches all who come under the influence of the Marist charism.
Marcellin continued his work of establishing Marist communities over the next 20 years. At the age of 51 he succumbed to the effects of continuing ill health. Marcellin died on 6 June 1840, at Our Lady of the Hermitage in the Gier River Valley, about 30 kilometres from where he had commenced his work. At the time of his death more than 320 young men had already chosen to follow his example and work. Within 20 years this number had grown to over 2000, and today Marist Brothers continue to follow Marcellin’s dream, caring for and teaching students throughout the world.
Marcellin was declared Venerable in 1920 by Pope Benedict XV, beatified by Pope Pius XII on 29 May 1955, and canonised by Pope John Paul II on 18 April, 1999.
Marcellin Champagnat was a man of simplicity, compassion, open-mindedness and trust in God and Mary his Mother. His life is a witness to the truth that the actions of one man can make a difference. His legacy is the Marist charism which is the essence of the Marist school community – a family and an accepting place where all students, teachers, parents and helpers work together for the common good.
May Marcellin’s dream continue to inspire our Mt Maria family:
“Let me say once again: may it be said of the Marist Brothers and of all who work and learn in our schools: see how they love one another. That is my greatest wish for you in the last days of my life”