Spotlight on Schools, 7
This is the next in a series of profiles of schools started in the educational tradition of Edmund Rice and his Brothers. Schools wishing to be featured are invited to write to the editor for a briefing – see CONTACT US.
St Patrick’s College is a school for boys from Year 5 to Year 12 in New South Wales, Australia. The College was established in 1928 by the Christian Brothers for the youth in Western Sydney and to provide teaching experience for student Brothers. It began with 39 boys and today provides education for approximately 1400 boys and young men, ordinarily aged from 10 to 18. The College seeks to educate men who are socially, critical, and spiritually aware, and who stand with the poor with empathy, compassion, and empowerment.
The St Patricks College community strives to connect with those who do not share the material wealth and educational facilities and opportunities that this community enjoys. We are proud of our immersion program, where students from Year 11 travel to St Mary’s Secondary School, Vunakanau, Papua New Guinea. St Mary’s is a fellow Edmund Rice school, and it is a powerful experience for students from both communities to spend time together and to learn about their shared faith and charism. Only a small number of staff and students can attend the immersion, but the whole College community shows support for the program by learning about the history, geography, and education of Papua New Guinea through the curriculum and also through fundraising and advocacy activities where students act and pray for their brothers at St Mary’s.
An exciting new development in the peace and justice program at St Patrick’s is an interfaith partnership with Sule College, a secondary school for students from the Turkish Muslim community. The first event in this partnership involved a forum where a small number of senior students from each school were able to meet, hear presentations, and discuss issues that are relevant to each community. These meetings aim to increase students’ awareness and understanding of their peers from a different faith perspective and to foster a sense of solidarity between the two groups. As with all of these peace and justice activities, students are struck by and speak afterwards of those things which they have in common with the people they meet.
Like many schools in the Edmund Rice charism, St Patrick’s College is challenged to be a community that is truly accessible to and connected with the materially poor. The school enjoys a strong reputation in the local community and a long waiting-list for enrolment. This position, while fortunate and deserved, raises difficult questions for the St Patrick’s community about whether this is a place that is truly accessible to the poor. As the community grapples with these questions, we hold true to our social outreach and education program, which we believe produces men who stand with the poor in empathy and advocate on their behalf with a passion founded on faith and on the charism of Blessed Edmund.
More information about the College, together with contact details, can be found at www.spc.nsw.edu.au.
Director of Identity: St Patrick’s College
Published November 2011