Born in West Leinster, Ireland in 543, Columban (or Columbanus) entered the monastery of Bangor, east of Belfast, at a young age. He belonged to the first great age of Celtic missionary activity when a stream of monks set out from Ireland to preach the Gospel in the chaotic war lord world of what was later to become Europe. Columban is one of the ‘white martyrs’, becoming a missionary and spending his life spreading the faith among the barbarians living in the ruins of the once great Roman Empire. He died in 615 aged about 73 years, which was a great age for that time.
On Sunday 29 January 1928 St Columban’s College was officially opened. The property, Highlands, was one of the stately homes of Brisbane. The site was spectacular, looking out over the Brisbane River and the city of Brisbane. Highlands was purchased by Archbishop Duhig in 1926 and passed into the hands of the Christian Brothers, whom he invited to run the College for the purpose of providing a Catholic education for young boys. As founder of St Columban’s College, Archbishop Duhig supported the Christian Brothers in their educational endeavours with large sums of money, especially in the late 1950s when the College had to expand dramatically. In the early days of the College the boys came from predominantly working class Catholic families; with parents making great sacrifices to send their boys to Columban’s where they would receive a sound Catholic education.
Driven by dynamic leadership and an enthusiastic and extremely hard working parent body St Columban’s College thrived throughout the 60s and 70s. Parents built by hand the College Swimming Pool in 1962, and continued to work tirelessly to raise funds for the construction of many buildings to add to the opportunities offered to its students. For two decades the College hosted ‘the event of the year’, the well known Colana Carnival (the Monster Fair), which was the biggest show to be held in Brisbane outside of the Ekka!
In 1985 the Congregation of the Christian Brothers formally handed the College over to the Brisbane Catholic Education Office. Shortly after, the primary school was phased out with St Columban’s focusing of the offering secondary education in Years 8-12. To ensure the viable future of St Columban’s College a decision was made in 1995 to relocate the campus to Caboolture. Preparations commenced for a new co-educational campus with an inventory created of how and what to move from the Albion site in order to preserve the best qualities of this remarkable College with its long history.
Introducing girls into Year 8 at the Albion site in 1996 laid the foundation for the opening of a fully co-educational College in Caboolture at the commencement of the 1997 academic year. The grief expressed by the Albion community was met with equal joy by the Caboolture community, as St Columban’s was warmly welcomed into its new locality. Many challenges faced the developing College including the notion of remaining true to its roots and yet, being able to be responsive and adaptive to the needs of its new community of learners. The celebration of the College’s 75th Anniversary in 2003 marked a coming of age and defining moment for St Columban’s College, Caboolture. Students who had never attended at Albion were now becoming absorbed in the ever present Columban spirit, as this new community was truly recognised and affirmed.