Following delays due to COVID-19, Archbishop Peter A Comensoli officially blessed and dedicated the newly established Iona College Geelong, Charlemont, with a celebratory Mass on Friday 16 September.
The college opened in 2020 with 150 Year 7 students and 23 staff, and has quickly grown to include 560 students in Years 7−9 and 78 staff in its first three years of operation, with anticipated growth to 1,400 students as it expands to Year 12 by 2025.
The college campus will be fully built in three stages over six years, delivering a $65 million investment in state-of-the-art facilities that will serve the educational needs of the Geelong area well into the future. It has been built with significant contributions from the Catholic community, along with support from the federal and state governments (contributing $15 million and $5 million respectively).
In his homily, Archbishop Comensoli drew on the inspiration of patron saint of the college Columba of Iona.
‘Columba was a man of warmth, humanity, gentleness and a heart for the poor. Above all, he was a man of prayer.
‘He established a monastery on the island of Iona to take Christ to the people of Scotland and northern Britain.
‘Just as Columba brought Christ to the people of Scotland, Iona College can be a Columba for Geelong, a standout missionary for our times’, he said.
Principal Damian McKew welcomed and paid tribute to the many people who have contributed to the establishment of the college.
He says Iona College is aiming to be a distinctly Catholic school with a strong emphasis on community.
‘We are building a school where wellbeing and community are at the forefront of what we do.
We want our students to not only be the best that they can be academically, but also to be forces for good in the world, support the marginalised and make a difference in their communities.
‘We aim to offer leading-edge programs and put into action the latest advancements in educational thinking to ensure our students are well-equipped for the demands of the future.
‘Our college motto is “Learning to change the world” and we hope that our students will make valuable contributions to society,’ he said.
Concelebrating the official blessing with Archbishop Comensoli were Fr Jim Clarke, Parish Priest at St Mary of the Angels Basilica, Geelong; Fr Darien Sticklen, Priest Administrator at Holy Trinity, Queenscliff; and Fr Daryl Montecillo, Parish Priest at St Francis Xavier, Corio and Lara.
Mirijana Jovic, Director of Finance and Infrastructure Services, represented Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools (MACS) on the occasion.
This article was originally published by Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools (MACS) and has been republished with permission. All photos courtesy of MACS.
Justin McLellan (CNS)26 February 2024
Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools (MACS)26 February 2024