BRISBANE Archbishop Mark Coleridge has blessed the site for Brisbane Catholic Education’s newest school on the Gold Coast – St Joseph’s College, Coomera.
Adding to the extraordinary story of Catholic education in Australia, Archbishop Coleridge joined BCE executive director Pam Betts, foundation principal Paul Begg and guests for the blessing and symbolic sod-turning ceremony.
During the ceremony, Archbishop Coleridge told those gathered on the construction site the celebration was not the beginning of the story for St Joseph’s, but an important step forward as the school looked to the future.
Archbishop Coleridge said the story of St Joseph’s, the 140th school within the Archdiocese of Brisbane, took place within a much larger story.
“A new school is an incredible achievement; so many people have to do so much to make it happen and to make it work,” he said.
“The parents, BCE, the parish priest, but what we say by blessing this site is that, in the end, the one who will do the real teaching, deep down, in this school is Jesus Christ.
“He is the only one who will teach the young what it means to be really human.
“So through Mr Begg and his staff, everything that goes on at St Joseph’s College, it will be through the power and the presence of Jesus Christ.
“That’s why when we bless this site we say it is holy ground.
“This will be a place where God speaks and listens to us.”
St Joseph’s will be one of three schools receiving pastoral support from the Coomera parish, along with Assisi Catholic College at Upper Coomera and Jubilee School at Pacific Pines.
In addition, the secondary year levels will attract students from Mother Teresa School at Ormeau and students from other Catholic and state primary schools on the northern Gold Coast.
The college was planned as a four-stream primary school (Prep to Year 6) and six-stream secondary school (Years 7 to 12).
The master-planned 10ha site on Kerkin Road South will cater for an eventual enrolment of more than 1800 students
It will open in 2019 with a smaller number of students in Prep to Year 3 and Year 7, with year levels added progressively until the first Year 12 students graduate in 2024.
Foundation parent Janelle Prendergast said she was delighted to have a school that would look after the academic and social needs of her son.
The steering committee member said she had loved her own experience at St Michael’s College at Merrimac and she wanted that same experience for her son Toby.
“This is a school he can grow with,” she said.
Ms Prendergast said Catholic schools had a sense of wellness to them.
“They’re interested in the holistic education of the students, and the community spirit that’s built amongst students is very important to me as a parent,” she said.
Mr Begg said the blessing and symbolic sod-turning was another milestone in the story of the school.
“To have so many people support what we are trying to achieve here is very important,” he said. “Schools are places that shape society, they are transformational.
“This is not about the buildings, this is about something that will transform young people’s lives.”
Mr Begg, who is based in the college’s enrolment office at Pimpama Junction shopping centre while construction takes place, said excitement was rising with nine months to go before the college opened the doors to its first students.
“We are in the process of recruiting leadership staff right now and then teaching staff through Term 3 and we’ll start building our educational programs from there so we can kick off next year hopefully with about two-hundred students,” he said.
Mr Begg said enrolment interviews were beginning, with lots of interest in being part of the historic first cohort of students at the college.
Ms Betts said the choice of the college’s name was reflective of the values the school would represent.
“The steering committee strongly advocated for the new college to embrace the charism of Australia’s first saint, St Mary of the Cross MacKillop, and of the order which she founded, the Josephites,” she said.
“The college’s motto – Courage to Love, Learn and Serve – beautifully encapsulates the values and example of St Mary of the Cross, and we are sure these values will inspire the students, staff and families of the new college community.”