Put New Zealand on the map

Saint Ignatius of Loyola Catholic College in Auckland will open its doors to students next year. On a recent visit to Rome, the deputy principal had the chance to tell Fr Arturo Sosa SJ, Superior General for the Jesuits, how the long-held dream finally came to fruition.


During the recent Easter holidays I was blessed to be able to visit Rome. As part of this trip, I was invited to a private dinner with Fr Arturo Sosa SJ, Superior General for the Jesuits, Father José Magadia SJ, Regional Assistant for Asia Pacific, and Father David Holdcroft SJ, Education Specialist with Jesuit Refugee Service.

This was an important moment in the life of Saint Ignatius of Loyola Catholic College, as it was an opportunity to formally thank the Superior General and the Jesuit family for the gift of the Ignatian charism for our new school. It also marked another important step in our growing relationship with the Society of Jesus here in Aotearoa New Zealand. 

As I entered the Jesuit Curia, a large building just off St Peter’s Square, I was struck by the large map on a wall which identified over 2,300 Jesuit schools around the world. What was striking to me was there was no school (yet!) in New Zealand on the map.

Fr Arturo Sosa SJ and Catherine Bamber-O’Malley meeting in Rome. Photo: Saint Ignatius of Loyola Catholic College, New Zealand.

We were warmly welcomed by Father Arturo, who was keen to hear about our school. I felt incredibly proud to be able to tell him of the many families who have been dreaming of a Catholic school in this area for well over twenty years, as well as the support we have received from the Diocese of Auckland.

I told him there are families who had initially hoped this school would serve their children, but they can now look forward to accompanying their grandchildren. I spoke of families who have prayed on the site of the school for many years and even buried miraculous medals on the soil. He was impressed with the commitment, dedication and tenacity of these families.

Father Arturo, Father José and Father David were keen to hear about the families that our school would serve. I was able to tell him about all the wonderful people and students we have met during our enrolment interviews and the many gifts and talents that they will bring to our school.

Father Arturo was particularly keen to hear about our students as culturally located and our partnership with Manawhenua iwi, Ngaati Te Ata Waiohua and Ngaati Tamaoho. Furthermore, we celebrated the diversity of our enrolled students as being reflective of our diverse and rich society here in Aotearoa New Zealand. Everyone was truly excited to hear that the Ignatian charism was beginning to take root in New Zealand soil and about the benefits and opportunities a holistic Ignatian Education will bring for our students.

Construction site of the new college in New Zealand. Photo: Saint Ignatius of Loyola Catholic College.

We presented Father Arturo with pounamu carved into a Kopae. This is a symbol of the new beginnings of our Ignatian School in Aotearoa New Zealand and the continuity of the Jesuit tradition, which spans almost 500 years. In presenting this gift I was reminded again how significant the opening of Saint Ignatius of Loyola Catholic College is.

Through the support of the Diocese of Auckland and in partnership with the Jesuits we have become part of something much bigger than ourselves and become part of a story and a network of schools across the world with a deep and rich history. We become part of an international community who seek to find God in all things.

Next time we have the privilege of visiting the Jesuit Curia in Rome it will be exciting to look at the large map of Jesuit schools once again and see a dot in New Zealand where our school is! Through all these partnerships, the dreams of our families and the aspirations of our foundation students, Saint Ignatius of Loyola Catholic College is truly putting New Zealand on the map!

Inveniens Deum in Omnibus!

By Catherine Bamber-O’Malley

Catherine Bamber-O’Malley is Deputy Principal of Saint Ignatius of Loyola Catholic College in Auckland, New Zealand.

Read more about the events that led to the foundation of the college.