Student well-being is central to life at St Mary's College.
To fully engage boys in life at St Mary’s College, the Student Engagement team pursues three key goals:
- The creation and maintenance of a SAFE environment for all. Boys who are safe are able to take risks in their learning, come to school with curious and open minds and thrive in their development.
- The fostering of a strong sense of BELONGING to the College, to their House and the wider Christian community. Boys who are connected, are grounded and steady in an ever-changing world. The House identities provide a vehicle for the development of pride, loyalty, achievement and teamwork.
- Provide and pursue opportunities to CHALLENGE boys in their growth. Growth is an essential component of a boy’s time at the College, and this does not happen in places of comfort, but in places of challenge. The College camp and retreat program, our expectations regarding behaviour and presentation as well as engagement in outreach and social justice initiatives are all vehicles for challenge.
House & Mentor System
Our four Houses are the foundation for our pastoral system. Bowdler, McGoldrick, Purcell and Waterford Houses have all developed their own identity and spirit. Each of our four Houses comprises approximately 220 students from Years 5 to 12. Belonging to a House provides all staff, students and their families with the opportunity to form positive and lasting relationships with students across all year levels.
Mentor groups are at the heart of our pastoral system. To ensure students’ individual needs are met, each House is divided into mentor groups comprising of approximately 20 students. Students remain in the same group with their mentor teacher throughout their entire schooling journey at St Mary’s College, offering continued support and guidance throughout their time here. The relationships within each group are unique yet all groups exemplify a familiar quality where our older students also mentor the younger boys in their group.
Under the direction of the House Leaders and Mentor Teachers, students are encouraged to become involved in all aspects of College life. Belonging to a House provides many avenues for students to interact on a social level, to support each other, to learn from each other’s strengths and weaknesses, to develop leadership skills and to actively serve the College and wider community.
Frank Bowdler was College Captain in 1938 and 1939. The son of a first day student of the College (Considine Bowdler), Frank was a dedicated and successful student and sportsman.
In 1949, Bishop Roper appointed Frank as the President of the Old Boys’ Association which he set up to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the College. The association has continued since that time and Frank was instrumental in the purchase of property that extended the school grounds eventually to where it is today. For many years, Frank was President of the Association.
He was a very successful and highly regarded businessman in Toowoomba who remained committed to family and his faith. He gave generously of his time to the Church including membership of a range of community service organisations. One of our very significant awards, the Edmund Rice Award for service to the College is presented in Frank’s memory to students who follow Frank’s example. Frank Bowdler is a representative of the host of old boys who have made a significant contribution to school, community and Church.
One of the first day students on the opening of the College was Fr. William McGoldrick.
He decided to become a priest and studied in Sydney and Innsbruck in Austria as there was no seminary in Queensland at the time. He was ordained in 1911, the first in a long line of old boy priests and was appointed as the secretary to the Bishop in Brisbane. He joined the Columban Society of Missionaries and was appointed to China in 1923. He spent some time promoting the society in America before returning as Director of the Columbans in China from 1931 -1937 and then Regional Director for Asia from 1937 – 1947. Interned by the Japanese in Shanghai during World War II, he remained in China but was expelled by the Communist regime in 1951. He returned to Australia for the first time since 1923 and was the Spiritual Director for students at Banyo Seminary and other duties until his retirement in 1973. He died in 1976 as the oldest Columban priest and one of the first to join the society in Australia.
Brother Desmond Ambrose Purcell was one of many old boys to dedicate their lives to be followers of Edmund as Christian Brothers and the first old boy to become Principal of the College.
A dedicated teacher possessed of a calm, strong personality which flowed from his commitment to his faith, Ambrose was an inspiration to all who came in contact with him. On completing his six-year term as Principal at St Mary’s College in 1988, Ambrose worked in Sudan where he died in 2006 in the remote town of Yambio of meningitis, Br Gerry Bourke cfc said in Ambrose’s Eulogy:
He was fully alive to each person, addressing her or him by name, while being fully attentive to personal accounts of joy or sorrow – no matter how important or how menial. Through his personal attention, the love of God shone forth. His advice in matters small or great were always sound and reflected a total lack of selfishness. In fact, his utter humility in all situations was legendary.
Many past students remember his visits to the College during their school years. His life will stand the scrutiny of young men seeking to find belief backed up by action in every way as a key to deep learning of the most important things in life.
Waterford is the city where Edmund Rice began his educational ministry in Ireland over 200 years ago for the poor boys of the city.
In his suffering, Edmund stepped beyond the walls the rich and powerful divide us by, to be with the poor, uneducated children from all races of his and our times. He meets them and gets down in the mud, embraces them and then lifts them out. Compassion restores their dignity and education breaks down the walls of poverty and exclusion and provides them with the way forward to freedom and to new life.
Waterford today has many direct links with the legacy of Edmund Rice. On the site where he established his first school Mt Sion, an Edmund Rice school exists today with the same name. At the end of the current building is the Memorial Chapel constructed by the citizens of Waterford the year after Edmund’s death in 1845, in gratitude for what he had done. The boys and tailors’ shop which he built still stands. Here, bread was baked daily for the boys and they were provided with clothes.
The name Waterford is a fitting link to this powerful and fundamental legacy from our history and to a man whose educational purpose was surely one of recognising, developing and nurturing potential.