Sixty years ago, the Sisters of the Good Samaritan responded to the needs of the Belgrave community in Victoria, building a school for girls on the hill. Over the decades, that small school has grown far beyond what was initially envisaged by the Sisters and attracts students from well beyond the Dandenong Ranges.
By Maria Haggett
Our Good Samaritan heritage has empowered a learning community to evolve and change with the times. Yet, from generation to generation, while events and the world have shifted, there remains a constant theme of people committed to educating girls to ‘become informed, compassionate and creative’.
Mater Christi College is here today because we are part of a story that has been told, retold, heard, and passed down through the centuries. It is incredible and wonderful that this story is still alive and that we are part of it.
College learning began in 1963 with students attending St Thomas More and St John the Baptist primary schools in Ferntree Gully, and officially opened on the Belgrave site once the building was completed in 1964.
But our history stands on a story of 166 years since Archbishop John Bede Polding and Mother Scholastica Gibbons established the Good Samaritan Sisters. Even more, we stand on the 1500-year-old Rule of Benedict and, of course, the parable of the Good Samaritan, which gives us our compass.
In 2023, we celebrate all Mater Christi College has been, continues, and strives to be.
Celebrations began with a whole College Mass in Term 1. We were blessed to be joined by the first Mater Christi College Captain, Loretta Gamley (nee Peterson); her daughter Antoinette Burford (nee Gamley, Class of 1990); and Antoinette’s two daughters, Lexi and Adelaide.
Just as Mater Christi prides itself on its sense of community today, Loretta remembers the same feeling in the early years of the school’s establishment.
“I would say Mater Christi offered everything a girl needed. We were cared for; we had good examples of the importance of education, and the nuns had a great sense of fun.”
In addition to Mass and the launch of a new celebratory 60th Anniversary logo, we have been reaching out to, and sharing stories of, many of our alumnae to celebrate and acknowledge all that is possible in life beyond Mater.
From journalism to geology, floristry to zoology and much more, staff, students and visitors are thoroughly enjoying reading our Always a Mater Girl journeys.
Continuing the theme of connecting with our alumnae, we are launching a series of videos entitled: Spirit & Progress: Celebrating 60 Years of Mater Christi. These include memories and reflections of past and current students and tell the story of elements of the College that have changed over the years, as well as the underlying values and sense of community that have stood the test of time.
In October this year, we look forward to holding a reunion event for all past students, where there will be an opportunity to reconnect, reminisce, and tour the College.
To view the first of our Spirit & Progress – 60th Anniversary videos, click here.
Mater Christi College belongs to the community of 10 schools across Australia called Good Samaritan Education.
*Maria Haggett is the Principal of Mater Christi College, Belgrave.