St Albans school celebrates 90th birthday of ‘esteemed and respected’ founder

Brother Clement of St Columba's College.

Brother Clement of St Columba's College. - Credit: Archant

A Brother of the Catholic church who has worked at a St Albans school for 64 years has celebrated his 90th birthday.

The four Founding Brothers on the steps of Iona House at St Columba’s College in 1955.
L-R: Brother

The four Founding Brothers on the steps of Iona House at St Columba’s College in 1955. L-R: Brother Clement, Brother Victor, Brother Eugene and Brother Peter - Credit: Archant

Brother Clement Pelletier re-founded St Columba's College in 1955 after it was bought by the Brothers of the Sacred Heart. He arrived on the Queen Mary at Southampton docks in 1955, along with his fellow founders Brother Peter, Brother Eugene and Brother Victor.

Since then, Brother Clement has completed 70 years as a Brother of the Sacred Heart, more than 60 years at the school and 25 years as a tour guide and canon at St Albans Cathedral.

Brother Clement and students at the opening of the new Junior School in 1970.

Brother Clement and students at the opening of the new Junior School in 1970. - Credit: Archant

During that time, St Columba's College has grown from having 55 pupils to 820, and Brother Clement has seen more than 6,000 pupils pass through the school.

To celebrate his 90th birthday on Saturday, June 29, the school held a weekend of celebrations including a mass, dinner and a family barbecue. Guests included former and current staff, pupils and parents.

Conor Burns MP joined Brother Clement on his 90th birthday.

Conor Burns MP joined Brother Clement on his 90th birthday. - Credit: Archant


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MP Conor Burns, who attended the school when Brother Clement was headmaster, took part in the celebrations and passed on a personal message of congratulations from Prime Minister Theresa May.

Michael Fox, a pupil from Brother Clement's first class in 1955, said: "I remember the arrival of Brother Clement, coming to teach us in what is now the headmaster's office.

A celebratory Mass for Brother Clement given by Brother Nelson was held on his birthday at St Columb

A celebratory Mass for Brother Clement given by Brother Nelson was held on his birthday at St Columba’s College. - Credit: Archant

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"It was so exciting to be taught by this clever young American who seemed to be an expert in so many subjects but also gave us a love for nature, sport, the church, and even housework and gardening!"

Brother Clement, who has worked at the school as both a teacher and headmaster, continues to work every day managing the school's archives. He also gives each pupil who arrives at St Columba's an induction on the school's values of courage, courtesy and compassion.

Brother Clement on his 90th birthday.

Brother Clement on his 90th birthday. - Credit: Archant

Headmaster David Buxton said: "St Albans has become Brother Clement's adopted home. He has inspired generations of pupils over the years, helping to deliver the primary mission of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart in creating young men of faith, hope and love.

"He is esteemed and respected by very many families in and outside of the college, and we were delighted to thank him for his service and dedication to the school."

St Columba’s College old boys were invited to celebrate with Brother Clement on his birthday.

St Columba’s College old boys were invited to celebrate with Brother Clement on his birthday. - Credit: Archant

Jim Coughlan (left) with Michael Fox who was one of Brother Clement’s first students from his first

Jim Coughlan (left) with Michael Fox who was one of Brother Clement’s first students from his first class in 1955. - Credit: Archant

Conor Burns MP joined Brother Clement on his 90th birthday.

Conor Burns MP joined Brother Clement on his 90th birthday. - Credit: Archant

Conor Burns MP joined Brother Clement on his 90th birthday.

Conor Burns MP joined Brother Clement on his 90th birthday. - Credit: Archant

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