Our Story

Located in beautiful surrounds of Springwood, St Columba's serves the parishes of St Finbar's, Glenbrook; St Thomas Aquinas, Springwood; Our Lady of the Nativity, Lawson; Mary MacKillop, Upper Blue Mountains; and Sacred Heart, Blackheath.

There are currently over 1040 students enrolled at St Columba's, with 49 homeroom classes from Years 7 to 12.

The school itself also offers many attractive features including:

  • state-of-the-art learning facilities
  • comprehensive wireless coverage
  • extensive playing fields and courts, including a cross-country track
  • large agriculture plot
  • chapel
  • outdoor performance spaces

Our Story

Our history and heritage are unique. St Columba’s was originally built as a seminary for candidates of the priesthood in 1909.

Although our architecture reminds us daily of our links to the past and our connection to St Columba, the staff and students are an active part of the contemporary world in terms of academic studies, vocational education and faith development.

In 1979, St Columba's Catholic College was re-established as a Years 7 to 10 Catholic school by the Catholic Education Office. It was restructured as a Years 7 to 12 school in 1993.

Always a vibrant community, our students are noted for their involvement in all aspects of school life. From the fun and enthusiasm of the swimming and athletics carnivals, to entertaining the community with drama, music performances and lending a hand to the less well off members of society, the students of St Columba’s are always full of energy ready to involve themselves in extracurricular activities.

 

Timeline of school history
1839 William Lawson acquired the land
Later Sir Henry Parkes owned the land
1884 S. Lees purchased the site
1908 Cardinal Moran bought the property
1909 St Columba's Seminary opened
1910 26 seminarians begin studying
1923 Brauer Hall extensions
1933 Main Porch extensions
1957 North Building opened
1960 Chapel opened (Doc Joiner Library)
1977 St Columba's Seminary closed
1979 St Columba's High School opened
1982 First Year 10 class
1992 Cregan Building opened
1994 Dunne and Kelly Buildings opened
First Year 12 class
1996 Doc Joiner Library opened
1997 Iona Chapel opened
2003 'B' Block Building demolished
2004 25th year Anniversary – St Columba's
Launch of the School Mission Statement
Launch of the School Song

School Principals
1979 – 1984 Sr Anne Henson
1984 – 1992 Mr Jim McCartan
1992 – 1998 Mr Geoff Hicks
1998 – 2001 Mr Alan Moran
2001 – 2005 Dr Anne Wenham
2005 – 2013
Mrs Delma Horan
2014 - Mr Paul Ryan

Columba, the latinised version of his name by which he is best known, may well be the archetype of the Celtic saint.

Stained Glass St Columba 
Stained glass depicting St Columba

He is a mass of contradictions:

  • spending his life for the Iona mission to Scotland, yet with his heart secure in Derry
  • he was a bringer of a reconciling Gospel to the Irish of the Dalriada colony and the Picts, but his pride and arrogance caused a bloody battle in his native Ireland
  • he was gentle to the weak and hospitable to the stranger, but his discipline was hard on himself and his community
  • he forswore his won noble heritage to become a wanderer for Christ, but continually involved himself in the politics of Scotland and Ireland.

From his community of Iona, the Gospel traveled to the pagan Angles of the south and across the disintegrated remains of the Roman Empire. Columba, in an odd fashion, may be the patron saint of countless small churches which flagrantly violate copyright laws in copying music and documents.

The story of Columba's exile (or at least one version of the story) has its roots in a conflict between Columba and Finnian of Clonard, his master.

The conflict centred on one of the most precious items in Ireland at the time - a book. As books were inscribed on animal skins (papyrus not being suitable to the damp Irish climate), and as cattle was the basic form of currency (the value of a person in the social order was not infrequently reckoned in cattle), a book was a symbol of wealth as well as prestige. Further, a book of Holy Scripture had particular value. Finnian owned a Psalter, the Book of Psalms.

 Cross
Cross

Columba snuck into Finnian's study each night to copy Finnian's treasured possession. When Columba was discovered he was brought before the local high king, unfortunately a rival to Columba's own powerful clan. King Diarmit, hearing the case, pronounced the judgment that still echoes in our litigious time: "To every cow its calf, to every book its copy."

Columba was humiliated and when Diarmit violated the law of monastic sanctuary in order to arrest and execute a kinsman of Columba, the saint took the opportunity to rouse his own clan, the Ui Neill, to battle. Columba's clan won the day - and by chance the Psalter as well, but three thousand men lost their lives in the process.

Columba was excommunicated for a time - the normal penance for a monk who takes up arms, and was sent into exile. It wasn't a particularly effective exile as Columba did return to Ireland several times, once to defend the bards when the nobles, tired of the bards' political satire, sought to have the order suppressed. However, Columba's exile had enormous repercussions for the Church in England, as the result of the exile was the founding of the Iona community.

From that community, Celtic monks travelled through the remains of the old empire and beyond, living and sharing the life of the Gospel. From that community, less than forty years after Columba's death, an Irish monk named Aidan was sent to the kingdom of Northumbria to bring the Gospel of the people of King Oswald.

 Stained Glass
Stained glass depicting the Cathach is the battle standard of the O'Donnells and contained a psaltery said to have been written by the hand of Columba himself

While Columba created a vibrant Christian community, and served as a sort of Patron Saint of the Celtic tradition in England, the year of his death also saw the arrival of one whose values would ultimately triumph over the Celtic style, Augustine of Canterbury. The continental pattern of the Church, based more on structure and order than on passion and relationships, found its foothold in the southeast of England. In less than a century after Augustine's landing, the way of Columba and Aidan was rejected by the Anglo-Saxon kings in favour of the way of Augustine and the old imperial church. Yet Augustine's mission needed the vitality and community orientation of Celtic Christianity, the tradition of Columba, to penetrate and convert the Saxon kingdoms.



The institutional breakdown of the current era creates a climate where passion and relationships speak more powerfully to the contemporary soul than order and structure. Columba's foundation at Iona has been restored in this century. God grant his style of discipleship with return to the Church as well.

Columba died on June 9, 597.

 

Religious Education

  • St Columba’s Catholic College has a rich tradition of prayer and liturgy. As a Catholic community, we celebrate with a sense of the sacredness of people, time and space.
  • The Angelus is prayed each day at noon, by the entire school community, and classes pray at the commencement of each period.
  • All Year 7 to 12 students undertake the Religious Education program, Sharing our Story.
  • Each Religious Education lesson begins with prayer. Classes regularly visit the school’s Iona Chapel for reflection and prayer, linked to themes of their program.
  • Preparation for aspects of Year group and whole-school liturgies occur in Religious Education classes, e.g. prayers of the assembly, offertory elements, artwork.
  • Year level retreats flow from stage-specific focuses of the program.

Pastoral Care

Programs and activities related to pastoral care include:

  • Student Leadership
    All students are encouraged to develop leadership skills through groups such as the Student Representative Council, House Captains, Year 11 and 12 Councils.

  • Anti-Bullying Programs
    All Year 7 and 8 students participate in these. Content is delivered through Religious Education classes and pastoral days.

  • Transition Programs
    Years 11 & 12. Students in their senior years are supported in decision-making about post-school pathways by senior staff and the College’s Careers Advisor.