A new chapter in history

St Ignatius of Loyola Catholic College in Auckland, the new
Jesuit companion school, held its Inaugural Mass on 13 February.

 JOURNEYING WITH YOUTH 

In the words of Foundation Principal Dean Wearmouth (above): “I would like to acknowledge all who have been involved in the vision, planning and work to establish St Ignatius of Loyola Catholic College. I acknowledge all who cannot be here today who have contributed; all living and all who have passed. Finally, I acknowledge the Lord our God, through our almighty and loving Lord, all things are possible.” All photos: Ben Campbell / BC Photography

Bishop Steve Lowe, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Auckland (above), presided at the Inaugural Mass with twenty priests and bishops as concelebrants. He also blessed the House candles, the school badges and all staff members as they took up their important roles in forming and accompanying all the students. He called out one of the students with a very significant name: “Sorry to drag you out, Ignatius, but you’ve got such a great name. Ignatius is looking at me as if he could kill me but I met him last week. I asked him his name and he said ‘Ignatius’ and I responded with, ‘Wow, they’ve named a college after you!’ A long time ago, that’s the name your parents gave you and that’s the name they know you by and love you by. You’re going to be the most famous guy at St Ignatius in the first weeks. But not only that. Ignatius is the name that God knows you by and loves you by, throughout eternity, not just in this life but forever.”

Teacher Stacey Harrison said: “It is with gratitude and profound joy that I stand before you today. For the past two decades, I’ve been working in a state school (where) each day was a journey filled with challenges, triumphs, and countless moments of growth. However, 2024 marks a new chapter in my journey, one that fills me with immense appreciation and humility. I am deeply grateful to now find myself a part of this wonderful community within a Catholic school in the Ignatian tradition. I feel incredibly blessed to be able to share my Catholic faith in this environment, where it’s not just welcomed but celebrated. The transition from a state school to a Catholic one has deepened my appreciation for the transformative power of faith in education. It reminds me that our work extends far beyond the confines of the classroom; it touches hearts, inspires minds, and instils values that endure a lifetime.”

In the words of John Mills (above, in dark suit) the original chairman of the Faith Committee: “Wow! We now have an Ignatian college. We are very blessed to have the spirituality, the richness and the knowledge of nearly 500 years of Jesuit education as part of our College. We say a very special thank you to Fr Quyen and we especially acknowledge that you commissioned two of your outstanding men, Fr Michael and Fr Eka, to be part of our college. I would also like to honour two men who said yes to this project of an Ignatian college. Had they said no, we would not be here today. The first was Fr Chris Gleeson, the steering committee’s first contact with the Society of Jesus. The second was the Emeritus Bishop of Auckland, Bishop Patrick Dunn DD, who believed in what the community and the steering committee were trying to achieve. We saw the Eucharist as being at the heart of our Ignatian college. Our gift back to God and to St Ignatius must be vocations from this college to the Society of Jesus.”

In the words of Fr Eka Tanaya SJ (above, extreme left), the Deputy Principal for Religious Identity and Mission: “Like Ignatius of Loyola, all of us, individually and as a community, are called by God to be the best version of ourselves every day, to find God in all things and to carry out God’s mission of love, justice, truth and reconciliation in our world. May this also be the prayer for every student, every staff member and every parent and friend of the school for the many decades and centuries to come.”

Students’ voices were clearly heard, not just raised in song, but in speaking from the heart as well. Year Nine student Annabelle said: “St Ignatius means to me a new start at this amazing school; a new family and new opportunities for everyone and everything.” Echoing that sentiment, fellow Year Nine student Sebastiano said: “I’ve been able to witness the growth and balance between education and our religion. I’ve been grateful to have the opportunity to attend this diverse, unique school which has benefited me with new friends and to grow a closer connection with our God. I thank you for the teachers for being compassionate and showing us all equality. And thank you to the priests for making this day a possibility.”

Among the 20 concelebrants were nine Jesuits: Fr Quyen Vu SJ (Provincial), Fr Paul Mullins SJ (Socius), Fr Rob Davoren (Province Treasurer and JEA Board member), Bishop Emeritus Greg O’Kelly SJ (Port Pirie), Fr Tom Renshaw SJ (Rector of Saint Ignatius’ College, Riverview), Fr Chris Gleeson SJ (a longtime friend, mentor and supporter of the College Establishment Board and Xavier College Chaplain), Fr Richard Shortall SJ (Hamilton Diocese) and the two Jesuits working at the College: Fr Eka Tanaya SJ (Deputy Principal) and Fr Michael Smith SJ (Ignatian Coordinator). Also attending from Australia were JEA Board members and executives Beth McConnell, Danielle Cronin and Jennie Hickey, as well as Jesuit and JEA-affiliated school representatives Mark Tannock, Michael Morgan, Paul Hine and Kevin Lewis.

In the congregation were staff members, 330 students, Establishment Board members and the executives of the Auckland Diocese and the Catholic Education Office as well as more than 100 distinguished friends, guests and donors who had contributed to the establishment of the College and all of whom are committed to ensuring the legacy of the College in giving greater glory to God. In the latest issue of ‘The Gonzagan’, Mark Tannock, Principal of St Aloysius’ College Milsons Point wrote: “Please keep St Ignatius of Loyola Catholic College Auckland and its community in your prayers as they undertake their sacred work. It was inspiring to be at the opening of a new Ignatian school and to see the joy in those who have worked so hard over so many years to see this vision realised in bricks, mortar, teachers and students. It is a reminder to us that the Catholic Church is at its best when it is seeking new opportunities to ‘build the kingdom’ and taking roads less travelled to do so.”

To enquire about becoming a Jesuit in Australia, contact vocations@sjasl.org.au and for more info, visit our Vocations page.