Purpose of the House System
The opportunity to celebrate the core values of our school is provided through the School House System. Though this system is relatively new at St John’s the ideology that set the system in motion has a long, triumphant history.
When the Catholic community of Nowra formed a committee in 1986 to establish a Catholic High School for the Nowra community there began a dream. The closure of St Michael’s High School in 1967 meant that students who wanted a Catholic High School education had to leave Nowra and travel to the Southern Highlands or other regions.
When St John the Evangelist Catholic High School opened in 1990 twenty-three years after the close of St Michael’s, the Catholic community of Nowra had realised a dream for their children, grandchildren and future generations of Nowra children.
This dream for the children of the Nowra Catholic community reflects the hard work and vision of many of our Catholic ancestors. Some of these significant ancestors have been chosen as the patrons of our new houses; Chisholm, McCabe, Purcell, Benedict and MacKillop. The qualities and mission of these inspiring men and women are positive examples of what it means to live in the true spirit of our Catholic faith.
The values of hope, opportunity, peace, love, forgiveness, service, reverent spirituality, listening to the word of God, stewardship, hospitality, community, belonging, justice, truth and mission are not only the core values of our Catholic faith, but are also the values of St John’s. Our house patrons have been selected because they reflect these values and because they have had a direct influence on the establishment of our school and the Wollongong Diocese of which we are a part.
The House System is an aspect of the school that continues to be developed, improved, nurtured and cherished by all.
The House System is meant to simultaneously reflect both continuity and change in our community. While the House System represents a valuing of tradition and stability, it allows for the flexible, dynamic, ever-changing character of the school. Change is an integral part of our world. School communities, as a microcosm, must also adapt to change and deal with developments and challenges as needs arise. St John’s is no different.
Nature of the House System
Every student and member of staff of St John the Evangelist is allocated a House. For students, the House allocated is based on the home room. Students maintain their allegiance to their House from Year 7 through to Year 12.
The House System is supported through PALS groups (Pastoral and Learning Support), and rewards are accruable through participation in Sporting, Cultural, Academic, Liturgical and Social Justice pursuits.
Chisholm house is named after Caroline Chisholm and the patron saint is the Holy Spirit. Caroline Chisholm was born in England, married and moved to Sydney in 1838. Caroline assisted the female immigrants. She established the Female Immigrants Home, found work for women and she soon established a dozen employment agencies in rural areas. She went on to push for other reforms, undaunted by the constant battles with authority. She wished to know and follow God’s will. It appears she had no doubts that her work on behalf of young women migrants was divinely inspired. As she wrote: “I was impressed with the idea that God had, in a peculiar manner, fitted me for this work.”
The Holy Spirit was sent by God to complete the work of Jesus on earth, and to bring us to the fullness of grace. Jesus’ disciples were called to go into the world and make a difference with the gifts of the spirit. These gifts along with the lessons of Caroline Chisholm remind members of Chisholm House to uphold the core values of Hope, Opportunity and Peace.
McCabe House is named after Bishop Thomas McCabe and our patron saint is Mary Help of Christians.
Thomas McCabe was born in Northern NSW, 1902. He was ordained a priest in 1925. On the 15th November 1951, he was appointed as the first Bishop of the newly formed Wollongong Diocese. It was a mammoth task to establish the new diocese. For 22 years he worked to lay solid foundations for the rapidly growing diocese. The qualities of Mary 16 Help of Christians are reflected in the biblical images of Mary: willingness to say ‘yes’ to his mission, the mother of Jesus, the desire to help others.
These qualities of prayerfulness and service to the formation of faith-filled communities by both Mary Help of Christians and Bishop Thomas McCabe remind members of McCabe House to uphold the core values of Love, Forgiveness and Service.
Purcell house is named after Monsignor John Purcell and our patron saint is Saint Francis of Assisi.
John Purcell was born in Ireland in 1902 and came to Australia in 1929. In 1956 he was made the parish priest of Nowra and remained in this position until his death in June 1994 At the time of his death he held the honour of being the longest serving priest in the Wollongong Diocese. Monsignor Purcell is remembered as a great builder in the parish of Nowra. He saw Churches built at Bomaderry, Culburra, and Vincentia alone with extensions to St Michael’s and a new parish hall. His most favoured projects were five extensions at St Michael’s Primary School and the establishment of St John’s. These projects were always thoroughly prepared, and funded largely by Parish money.
Saint Francis, patron saint of this house, is portrayed as a man called for simplicity of life, poverty, and humility before God. Francis sought to follow fully and literally the way of life demonstrated by Christ in the Gospels.
In his life and preaching, Francis emphasized simplicity and poverty, relying on God's providence rather than worldly goods. These teachings remind members of Purcell House to uphold the core values of Reverent Spirituality, listening to the Wisdom that comes from God’s Word, and Stewardship of the world.
Benedict house is name after the patron saint, Saint Benedict.
Benedict was born in Italy to a wealthy family in 480CE, he gave up his inheritance. God called him to a quiet life with deep solitude. Benedict calls for a balance of prayer and work.
The words of our patron saint, Saint Benedict, remind us to, "consider our place in sight of God and of his angels. Let us rise in chanting that our hearts and voices harmonize." There was always a voice reading aloud in his communities at meals, to receive guests, to educate novices. Hearing words one time was not enough -- "We wish this Rule to be read frequently to the community."
These teachings remind members of Benedict House to uphold the core values of Hospitality, Community and Belonging.
MacKillop house is named after our Patron Saint, Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop.
In 1842 Mary MacKillop was born in Victoria. Mary met Father Woods who needed help in the religious education of children in the outback. Mary opened the first Saint Joseph's School in a disused stable in Penola.
Young women came to join Mary, and so the Congregation of the Sisters of St Joseph was begun. She also opened Orphanages, Providences to care for the homeless and destitute both young and old, and Refuges for ex-prisoners and ex-prostitutes who wished to make a fresh start in life.
Throughout her life, Mary met with opposition. In the most difficult of times she consistently refused to attack those who wrongly undermined her work and was always ready to forgive those who wronged her. Our patron saint, Mary of the Cross MacKillop is best remembered by her own words: “Never see a wrong without trying to right it”.
The qualities of Mary MacKillop are shown in her radical trust in God, her loyal service of the Church, her readiness to discern the urgent needs of the time, her faith and courage to risk suffering and failure for the sake of the Kingdom,
and a life of poverty and prayer. These lessons remind members of MacKillop House to uphold the core values of Peace, Justice, Truth and Mission.
Polding house is named after Archbishop John Bede Polding and our patron saint is St Vincent de Paul.
John Bede Polding was born in England. He was consecrated as Australia's first bishop in London in 1834. In 1841 Bishop Polding revisited England and then went on to Rome to report on his work and petition for the establishment 17 of a hierarchy, which was granted in 1842. Bishop Polding then became the first Archbishop of Sydney and Primate of all Australia. He spoke out about injustices in society and gave a voice to those who had no voice: the poor, the convicts, the Aborigines and women. During his 40 years in Australia he rode thousands of miles visiting Catholics throughout the colony.
Our patron saint, Saint Vincent de Paul, is remembered for his virtue of charity, which he extended to all people and all social classes. His work included calling others to minister to the poor, the young and the very old. His life focussed strongly on prayer and contemplation of God’s word and reaching out in mission to others.
St Vincent de Paul wrote “We must love our neighbour as being made in the image of God and as an object of His love.” This reminds members of Polding House to uphold the core value of celebration and thanksgiving. Like Polding we are called to proclaim the good news of the gospels.