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Damascus College and St Francis Xavier Primary School to transfer Canonical governance to DOBCEL
Friday 12 March, 2021
Damascus College, Mount Clear and St Francis Xavier Primary School, Ballarat East, have both announced that they will transfer their Canonical governance to Diocese of Ballarat Catholic Education Limited (DOBCEL), commencing in 2022.
This announcement coincides with the celebration of 140 years of Mercy ministry in Ballarat. Damascus College was formed in 1995 through the amalgamation of three foundation colleges – Sacred Heart College (established in 1881), St Paul’s Technical College (established in 1948) and St Martin’s in the Pines (Sacred Heart Senior College) (established in 1967). The Damascus College junior campus was originally located in Victoria Street and moved to join the senior campus on the current Mount Clear site in 2011.
The Sisters of Mercy purchased land on Mount Xavier in 1902 and named it Villa Maria. In 1905 they opened the Villa Maria boarding school for junior boys, and registered St Francis Xavier College in 1914. The school has operated under the joint governance of the Sisters of Mercy and the Ballarat Diocese since 2011.
The opportunity to review future governance for the schools arose when the Sisters of Mercy recently made the decision to consolidate their ministries. The move to join DOBCEL heralds an exciting new chapter for both schools and will enable them to continue providing students with quality learning in a contemporary school environment, whilst honouring and respecting their Mercy traditions and values.
“We believe that Damascus College and St Francis Xavier Primary School’s move to the new governance structure reflects much careful consideration and great care for their future on the part of their present leaders,” says Sr Eveline Crotty RSM, Leader of the Institute of Sisters of Mercy of Australia and Papua New Guinea.
“We are confident that DOBCEL will be enriched by the presence of these excellent schools and that the Diocese of Ballarat will continue to be well served by them,” says Sr Eveline.
DOBCEL was established in 2019 as the governing body for schools in the Ballarat Diocese and currently governs 56 of the 64 Catholic schools. As the company’s founding member, Bishop Paul Bird has welcomed the decision.
“Under DOBCEL governance, Damascus College and St Francis Xavier Primary School will continue to be quality schools where strong management is assured. They will continue to be staffed by teachers committed to sound teaching practice who implement an effective curriculum. They will continue to be safe places where children and young people can flourish,” says Bishop Bird.
Ms Tracey O’Neill, DOBCEL Board Chair and Company Director, has expressed the Board’s delight with the announcement, and has acknowledged that Damascus College and St Francis Xavier Primary School will both be very welcome additions to DOBCEL.
“The Board appreciates the time and consideration taken by both schools to reach this important decision for the future direction of their school communities. We look forward to supporting them to flourish into the future whilst honouring and respecting their rich heritage,” says Ms O’Neill.
Both Damascus College and St Francis Xavier Primary School will continue to honour the charisms on which they have been founded. The place of the Sisters of Mercy in Ballarat and the legacy of Catherine McAuley will underpin the spiritual and educational settings available to their communities. This will be enhanced by a spirit of service to the parishes from which the students enrol.
The partnerships between Damascus College and St Francis Xavier Primary School and DOBCEL respectively will commence with the practical process of transitioning governance over the coming months, with 1 January 2022 as the intended date of transfer.