School celebrates 200 years of Catholic community

Bicentenary mass celebrated at St Columba’s College.

Bicentenary mass celebrated at St Columba’s College. - Credit: Adam Hollier

St Columba's College in St Albans has held two bicentenary masses in celebration of 200 years of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart - who have been running the school since 1955.

The independent co-educational Catholic day school, is the only UK school within the Brothers of the Sacred Heart’s global community.

The Brothers marked the 200th anniversary of their foundation on September 30. The Catholic religious community, which was founded by Father André Coindre in Lyon, France in 1821, is now a worldwide institute with more than 1,000 Brothers in 33 countries.

Founded in 1939, St Columba's College has been under the care of the Brothers since 1955, when they came from New England in the US to establish St Columba’s as a unique school within a worldwide community. 

Today, the Brothers of the Sacred Heart of the United States Province also sponsor or work in 10 schools in the United States, one school and college in the Philippines, and two missions -- one on the Navajo nation in Klagetoh, Arizona, and the other in Amatongas in Mozambique.

The St Columba's masses were presided over by Bishop Paul McAleenan and were concelebrated by College chaplain Brother Nelson Dionne and several members of the clergy from St Albans and beyond.

Dignitaries attending the senior school mass and drinks reception afterwards included  Deputy Lieutenant of Hertfordshire The Countess of Verulam and St Albans Mayor Cllr Edgar Hill.

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Invited guests attending included the daughters of St Columba’s founding headmaster Philip O’Neill, alumni, governors, parents and friends of the college. Many former staff members also took part in the two-day celebration, including James Coughlan, who started teaching at St Columba’s in 1949.

Headmaster David Buxton, said: “Our bicentenary masses were an appropriate way for the college and the local community to show their appreciation to the Brothers of the Sacred Heart who have now been educating children in many countries around the world for the last 200 years and for 66 years here in St Albans. It is a significant landmark.”