A HISTORY OF JESUIT EDUCATION IN AUSTRALIA
The Society of Jesus has pursued an educational ministry in Australia since 1856 when St Aloysius’ College, Sevenhill was opened as the first Catholic boys’ school in South Australia. It was closed in 1886. Towards the end of April 1873, two Jesuits came from Sevenhill to Adelaide to open a school called Collegiate School of St Francis Xavier. This school was short lived and closed at the end of 1874.
After these initial beginnings in South Australia, over the last 150 years the Society of Jesus established a number of schools within Australia, sometimes as a work of the Society and at other times in partnership with the local diocese.
With the arrival of the Irish Jesuits in Melbourne in 1864, there was a strong commitment to providing Catholic education, initially in Melbourne and then subsequently in Sydney. During this time Fr Joseph Dalton SJ was the driving force in establishing the following Jesuit schools:
In 1865 the Jesuits were entrusted with St Patrick's College, East Melbourne. This school, adjacent to St Patrick's Cathedral in Melbourne had a distinguished history until it was closed in 1968. The website of the St Patrick's old Collegians Australia can be accessed HERE; An online collection of digital images spanning the history of St Patrick's and SPOCA is now hosted by Museums Victoria and can be viewed HERE;
Xavier College, Kew was opened in 1878, and continues to provide Jesuit education to students across Melbourne, regional Victoria, other parts of Australia and some students whose families are living overseas, including 55 boarding students;
St Aloysius' College, Sydney was established in 1879, originally operating in Woolloomooloo, then Darlinghurst, before moving to its current site in Milsons :Point in 1903. Enjoying a spectacular stunning central harbourside location, with access to ferries and the nearby train line, the College educates students from many different parts of Sydney; and
Saint Ignatius' College, Riverview, was established in 1880. Today it educates students from Sydney, regional New South Wales, other parts of Australia and some students whose families are living overseas, There are over 300 boarding students at the school.
The Jesuits also had a school in Darwin, Stella Maris, for a number of years around the turn of the twentieth century from 1898 until 1902.
In 1938, the Jesuits established a school in Perth called St Louis School. In 1971, the Jesuits transferred the proprietorship and governance of the College to the Archdiocese of Perth who established a school council to organise and run the school. In 1976, the St Louis School and Loreto Osborne were amalgamated to form a new co-educational school, John XXIII College. This new school began in 1977 and Fr Daven Day SJ was its founding Headmaster. John XXIII College continues its association with the Society of Jesus as a Jesuit Companion school while also being a Loreto Associated School.
In 1951, the Jesuits opened another school in Adelaide with the establishment of Saint Ignatius’ College in Adelaide. The College began in Norwood, adjacent to the Jesuit parish. In 1967, the secondary year levels were moved to a new campus at Athelstone. In 1996 the College began offering co-education from Reception until Year 12. The College continues to offer co-education today with the primary years being conducted at Norwood and the secondary years at Athelstone.
In 2013, the Jesuits established Redfern Jarjum College, a small co-educational primary school for indigenous students in inner city Sydney.
In 2020, the Society of Jesus continues to govern the following five schools: Xavier College; St Aloysius’ College, Sydney; Saint Ignatius’ College, Riverview; Saint Ignatius’ College, Adelaide; and Redfern Jarjum College. Jesuit Education Australia is the sole member of each of the companies responsible for operating these schools.
These schools operate within both the Catholic and Independent school sectors.
Catholic Diocesan schools established in partnership with the Society of Jesus
From the late 1970’s until recent times, the Jesuits helped established a number of diocesan Catholic schools in different parts of Australia. These included:
In 1979, Thomas More College, Salisbury, in South Australia was opened. Fr Phil Hosking SJ managed the setting up of the school in 1978 and Fr Jim Hawkins SJ was the first principal of school. The Jesuits left the College in the late 1980's.
In 1982, Catholic Regional College, Sydenham, Victoria began with Fr Gerry Healy SJ as the founding Headmaster. The Jesuits left the College at the end of 1983.
In 1993, Loyola College Mount Druitt in western Sydney was opened. The founding Headmaster was Fr Ross Jones SJ. In 1997, Fr Brendan Kelly SJ became the Principal (1997-2006). In 2004, the College subsequently became known as Loyola Senior High School. The Jesuits remained involved with the school until it was closed at the end of 2019 by the Diocese of Parramatta. From the beginning of 2020, a new Catholic school called CathWest Innovation College operates at this site. The parish priest of Emerton, who is a Jesuit, continues to be the chaplain to the College.
Jesuit Companion Schools
Since the mid 2000’s, the Society of Jesus has continued to work in partnership with a number of Catholic diocesan schools. These relationships, along with the ongoing relationship with John XXIII College in Perth, lead to the formation of formal ‘Companion’ school arrangements. This arrangement is based on a commitment that the Companion schools will remain congruent with the Ignatian vision, spirituality and pedagogical paradigm associated with Jesuit education. Jesuit Education Australia supports the schools in this commitment.
The Jesuit Companion schools are:
• John XIII College, Perth;
• Loyola College, Watsonia;
• St Ignatius College, Geelong;
• Xavier Catholic College, Ballina; and
• Xavier Catholic College, Hervey Bay.