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Take hold of life and make the best decisions


St Norbert College Queens Park Principal Annette Morey gives the opening introduction at the 50th anniversary Mass. In his homily for the occasion, Archbishop Costelloe encouraged the school community to take hold of their life and make the best decisions they can, rather than just going along with what everyone else is doing. PHOTO: Jamie O’Brien

By Jamie O’Brien

Archbishop Timothy Costelloe celebrated the 50th anniversary Mass for the St Norbert College Community last week, encouraging them to take hold of their life and make the best decisions they can, rather than just going along with what everyone else is doing.

Students, teachers and the St Norbert College Queens Park community were encouraged by Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB last week to take hold of their life and make the best decisions they can, rather than just going along with what everyone else is doing.

“In many ways, we might say that Norbert did exactly what St Paul, in today's second reading, is telling every Christian to do: that is, to make sure that you don't model your thinking and your behaviour on the patterns and behaviour you see all around you,” the Archbishop said.

“You can be quite sure that no-one in Australia, or even in Norbert's native land, would be remembering him today if he had simply been another one of the gang.”

The College community came together at St Mary’s Cathedral on Friday, 5 June to celebrate the feast of St Norbert, which was officially celebrated on Saturday, 6 June, and were joined by a number of concelebrants, including Abbott General Emeritus Fr Hermenigild Noyen O Praem, Rt Rev Peter Joseph Stiglich O Praem, Fr Stephen Cooney O Praem, Fr Joshy Chacko O Praem, Fr Michael Raymond OFM Cap, Mgr Tim Corcoran and recently ordained priest and former student, Fr CJ Millen.

The 900 members of the congregation were also joined by a number of former students and teachers for the occasion, including three past principals of the college: Desiree Grzenda-Day, Peter Hayes and Tom Corcoran.

At the commencement of the Mass, students processed into the Cathedral with the flags of the various college groups, with the entire celebration strongly supported by the music performed by the College choir and accompanist.

In his homily for the occasion, the Archbishop spoke about the life of St Norbert, saying that it was because St Norbert was courageous enough to change his life and set out in a new direction that we still remember him even a thousand years after his death.

“And really we remember him, not simply because he was thrown off his horse during a storm: we remember him because he became the person he was created to be.”

Current Principal Annette Morey said the school community, as it stands today, is a remarkable tribute to the vision and hard work of the founding members of the college.

The school has a very active ministry team and Christian service learning program, with students working together this semester to raise funds for the Caritas Australia 2015 Project Compassion Appeal, as well as the Caritas Appeal for victims of the earthquake in Nepal, and The Shopfront.

Students also raised money for Norbertine charities in India, including orphanages and Echo Centre for Juvenile Justice and Human Rights in South India.

The school was founded in 1959 after a visit by three Norbertines, Fr Peter O’Reilly O Praem, Fr John Reynolds O Praem and Fr Stephen Cooney O Praem, from the Holy Trinity Abbey, Kilnacrott, Ireland, which had links to Tongerlo Abbey in Belgium (founded by St Norbert), with the intention of establishing a boys boarding school in York. Although this did not eventuate, the Norbertines have maintained a presence in the York parish to this day.

In 1964, then-Archbishop of Perth, Redmond Prendiville, invited the Norbertine Canons to establish a boys school in Queens Park.

St Norbert College was officially blessed by the Rt Rev F C Colwell O Praem, Abbot of Kilnacrott, on 7 February 1965. In that year, less than 30 students were enrolled in one Year 6 class.

The college expanded by one class each year until 1971, when the students of the first class began their Leaving Certificate examinations. By this time, enrolments in lower secondary necessitated double streaming of classes. The college enrolled boys only until 1976, when co-education was introduced. Initially, girls were enrolled at the Year 8 level, bringing the total number of students to more than 340.

Staffing patterns have reflected the changing nature of enrolments at the college. In 1966, two Norbertines formed the staff, with Fr Anderson as Headmaster.

On 1 August 2008, the Catholic Education Commission of Western Australia (CECWA) approved the extension of enrolment parameters for the college. In 2010, the college enrolled students in Year 7 once again.

The co-educational secondary school, which is located in Queens Park, is now made up of approximately 900 students and 100 teaching, administration and support staff, who are encouraged each day to live the message of St Norbert, in the context of the College motto, prepared for all good works - whether it be through daily morning prayer or at monthly Benediction, through the liturgical life of the college, or by raising money for those who are disadvantaged in our society.