A Catholic Monthly Magazine

The Faith of our Fathers

The History of St Bede’s College

1911 – 2011

by David McCarthy

[Published by the Centennial Organising Committee 2011]

This impressive book of 458 glossy pages and weighing over 2 Kg does worthy justice to the hundred years (1911 - 2011) of history of this Catholic secondary school for boys. It is the work of former pupil and journalist David McCarthy, drawing on a vast array of narrative and anecdotes backed by careful research into its Marist origins. It was originally planned for the May 2011 Jubilee, but this celebration was postponed by the Christchurch earthquake of 22 February 2011.This event is now part of the history of the College, and is included in the final pages of the book.

The structure is simple and easily navigated. Each chapter contains a decade of College life, including keynote articles on high-points, personal profiles of prominent pupils, old boys and staff and finishing with several pages of Snapshots- a short digest of prizewinners, scholars and sportsmen and key fixture results.

Fr Charles Graham sm

Fr Charles Graham sm who founded St Bedes College twice, at Ferry Road in 1911, and at Papanui in 1921

The pages are rich in anecdote and humour, and the language captures the tone of each era. It does not read like a formal record but more like a family saga with an amazing range of character and talent. There are hundreds of photographs, mainly b&w, giving a good idea of the life of the college. There is even a picture of the Mothers and Sons event on Sports Day 1937.

This book is a must for anyone interested in the informal history and spirit of the College.

A Family Secret Shared

One of the deep mysteries of the early College history was the disappearance of the Founding Rector Fr Charles Graham en route to Europe for holiday leave in 1923. This event was shrouded in deepest secrecy for 80 years. Charles Graham had been Rector for 14 years of the College he founded as well as financial controller, and Religious Superior. He was a rising star of the Marist Order and was a renowned teacher and academic. His disappearance was a deep shock to the College Community and Order, especially when it was realised he had not gone alone. He disembarked in San Francisco, and married Winifed Barcock in Vancouver 10 days later. She had been matron of the College in 1920.

Nothing was heard of Charles until this millennium and the author of this book began to dig and finally found the trail. It is a great piece of investigative journalism, and makes fascinating reading. The only surviving daughter of Charles and Winifred (they had three) was Pauline Newhouse,85, and she visited the College by invitation on 22 March 2011 with two of her sons, Chuck and Ross. Pauline was able to fill in much of the details about her parents whom she loved and admired. She and her sisters had never been satisfied with her parents’ story about leaving NZ.

As for the Church superiors, the message must be that this talented man was grossly overworked, and unfairly burdened. The sadness for us was expressed neatly by one of his students “we never had a chance to thank him.”

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