A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Chanel College, Samoa, marks fifty years

Jubilee Mass

Jubilee Mass

While the whole country of Western Samoa celebrated 50 years as an Independent country in June 2012, Chanel College in Apia was also marking 50 years as a Catholic Secondary School.

The first flag hoisted over the independent government at Mulinu’u was given to Fr B.F. Doherty sm, the founding Rector of the College, in gratitude for his marching skills. This was an early sign of the contribution made by Chanel College to the new emerging democracy.

The early days of the college were more charactised by hard physical work than pomp and circumstance. Bishop Pearce favoured “a humble beginning and a temporary site”, and indeed the early classes were held near the building site where everyone pitched in.

Plantations were planted from day  one to support the college and feed the students all of whom were boarders.

The old Vanila school at Moamoa provided an early kitchen for the boarders, and later reverted to a primary boarding school which was a small feeder school for the College. Its latest incarnation is as a well-appointed HQ for COBA (Chanel Old Boys Association)

Fundraising was a constant necessity and occasionally money ran out. On 5 October 1962 all the workers were sent home. A successful fund- raising set the hammers ringing again. Again in 1964, the rector’s diary recorded on 28/2 “all funds exhausted”.

In 1965 the first lay teacher Bill Sharp-Dunn arrived for a long tenure, gifted in music and willing to teach anything if requested. By 1975 the decision was made to end the boarding school. The farm was given back to the diocese to manage and Chanel became a day-school for boys.

Fr Conrad Bryant sm

Fr Conrad Bryant sm

Along with Fr Doherty, Fr Conrad Bryant came from NZ to start the College. He stayed till 1965 when he contracted filariasis and was appointed to a school in  NZ. Fr Kevin Mears arrived in 1963 for a long stay. He had energy and stamina which has seen him return frequently over the years working on various projects for the college.

The second wave of teachers were led by Fr Rod Milne sm (rector 1974-5) and Stuart O’Connell sm., the third rector, as the day school grew and a 6th form was shared with other catholic secondary schools in the region. Frs Denis O’Hagan sm and Kevin Head sm  led the College in the 1980s until the first local Marists were ready to step up . Fr Falani Terry sm was the first Samoan Rector as well as the first old boy rector.He was followed by Fr JP Visesio sm.

Then in 1992, the decision was made to accept girl students at Chanel College. In the new millennium the College benefited from the leadership of College Marists from Oceania province in particular Fr Kevin Maguire who was rector from 2006 to 2010.

The needs of the diocese meant that the College had come full circle from  a boys-only boarding school in 1962 to a fully equipped co-educational College after forty years, and now fifty years on looking to be  a successful launching pad for the lives of young Samoan men and women.

Tagged as: , , ,

Comments are closed.