Celebrating 130 Years and more
On 2 July this year we celebrate 130 years of Marist College North Shore. In 1884 the Parish Priest of North Sydney, a Jesuit, Fr Kelly (Kelly House) invited the Marist Brothers to open a school on this site. It would, in fact, be only the fourth school opened by the Marists in Australia.
It was another 4 years, in 1888, that the school was opened with three Marist Brothers at the helm. The Principal was Br Walter Moore (Moore House). He was a good leader and teacher but unfortunately was very sick with tuberculosis, and sadly died in 1891 at the age of 31. The youngest brother was Br Michael Murphy, aged 20 , and the third brother was Br Wilfred Priestman, aged 41, who had no training as a teacher.
It would be reasonable to think that with such a relatively inexperienced staff and a very unwell principal that the early years would have been a struggle and the school slow to progress. This, however, was not the case. By the end of 1888 the enrolments had grown to over one hundred students.
North Sydney in 1888 was a very different place than today, it was a very poor town with a poor community. The workforce was made up of workers, labourers and tradesmen, building up this side of the harbour. As school fees were not paid regularly, to stay financially viable each year the parish priests had to support the principal of the time, helping to manage the college debt.
1888 was one hundred years after the First Fleet arrived in Sydney Harbour. There would have been members of the Cammeraygal, Gorualgal people still living in the area. There was no Harbour Bridge and only ferry transport from Sydney.
There was no Federation of Australia, the Northern Territory and ACT did not exist as States. Rugby League did not exist - No Manly Sea Eagles! There were very few roads in this area, no railway, no radio and no TV.
What was present from the beginning of the school was a great relationship between the Jesuit priests of this parish and the Marist Brothers. The Jesuits have been a constant influence on this school over all of these years and are still influencing us in ways of their Ignatian Spirituality.
When I look at photos of boys from this early school they looked a bit rough not the dignified young men that we work with today. But in other ways they could be our students today.
From the outset, this school grew with the care of the Marist Brothers. Their charism was present and I believe that we owe a debt to the founders of this school and to the teachers and students over the years. It is the value they placed on family spirit and their relationship with Jesus and his good Mother that have carry us through many years and it still continues today.
Here we are today. The beneficiaries of 130 years of the Marists and of Marist College here at North Sydney. We have traditions and values in our school that have been handed down through generations, from older brothers and from older students to younger brothers and younger students over the many years. To today where we are seeing great strength in our current senior leaders and our 2018 Year 12s who have begun so strongly as a group.
We have this legacy of a great school and it is up to our school community to make sure that our values and beliefs get passed onto to as many students for future years.