From the desk of Gerry Crooks, Principal, St Jimmies College
“One of the time-honoured traditions at St James College is to touch the school crest on your way into the school grounds each morning. As the principal, I watch hundreds of students do this every day, an instinctive sign of gratitude for the family that welcomes and supports them within the schoolyard, and beyond.
I’m really proud to introduce you to Catherine*, one of our current Jimmies students. Catherine has experienced a lifetime of trauma in her 16 years, like so many of our Jimmies students. She and her seven siblings were born in the Democratic Republic of Congo. When Catherine was young her parents, who were government workers, were set upon by rebel soldiers in their own home and murdered in front of their children. Catherine and her siblings ran away in search of safety.
Priests and nuns cared for them in a convent for three years. Catherine said that during this time, “We lived in fear of being abducted by soldiers. After some time soldiers came back to look for
us and killed two priests and two nuns who had been caring for my brothers and sisters and me.”
Catherine and many of our Bursary Program students have suffered greatly and overcome enormous challenges at heart-wrenchingly young ages. Their stories share common threads of hope, perseverance and strength. Will you please contribute to the education of these students whose determination is intricately woven into the fabric of the Jimmies community, who care so genuinely for their peers and who so fully embody our motto, Faithful Forever.
Did you know that over 20% of current students require fee concessions due to financial hardship? Demand for assistance is constant and growing. The College fees are currently $6,700 per annum, per student. Despite being lower than many other Catholic secondary schools, this precludes many students and their families from enrolling. As you know, St James has always prided itself on opening the door to young people who have been turned away from other schools but we cannot afford to provide fee concessions for additional students without your help.
St James has welcomed students from an array of cultural, socio-economic and academic backgrounds. We’ve launched a past student monthly giving program, the Faithful Friends Fund (a nod to our Faithful Forever motto), to provide tuition bursaries to students whose families are facing significant financial hardship. A gift to this Fund will ensure that vulnerable or very poor young people like Catherine are given an education that helps them to flourish.
Would you prayerfully consider making a regular monthly donation to give young people like Catherine a chance to reach their unique potential?
After witnessing the callous deaths of her parents and living in various refugee camps across the Congo, Catherine and her siblings moved to Uganda. “We had kept a photo of our older, adopted ‘sister’ Anne who we thought had been killed after our parents were murdered. With the help of a priest, we discovered that Anne was alive and living in Australia!”
Catherine’s story then thankfully took a different turn: “The whole family is now together again. We love calling Anne and her husband our ‘mum and dad’ and Australia home! Some of my brothers and sisters and I came to St James in July of 2016 shortly after arriving from Uganda. We love feeling safe again and having the opportunity to attend school. St James has helped our whole family, Anne included, to settle into life here, to become part of the community.”
Today, Catherine is thriving at school. The College welcomes many students like her who are from refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds. These children bring with them many challenges – over half of all Jimmies’ students have English as a second language and many have a learning disability. At Jimmies, these differences are celebrated through the College’s rich pastoral care, academic, sporting and cultural curriculums. A Jimmies education – founded in authentic Gospel spirituality, reflected through compassion, respect, social inclusion and understanding – represents the gift of transformative education, hope and inclusion.
As Jimmies approaches its 150th anniversary, the College is seeking the support of at least 150 generous people to consider making a monthly gift to the Faithful Friends Fund, to help provide bursaries to our most disadvantaged students. By making a regular, modest monthly gift you can have a significant impact on a student’s future. Catherine summarises it best,
“I know that I and my siblings are just a few of a large number of vulnerable young men and women who attend St James and who cannot afford fees or uniforms. We so are grateful that Jimmies has welcomed us so warmly and that the teachers and my friends help us in every way they can.”
The Jimmies Family is one of true multiculturalism and inclusion. The College ethos makes it uniquely able to welcome students like Catherine, in a way that no other school could. We are, and always will be, proud to provide a Catholic education to young people whose families could not otherwise afford it.
All donations to the Faithful Friends Fund are tax-deductible and can be made online. Your support will provide Catherine and other Jimmies students like her with an education that they could only otherwise dream.
When Catherine touches the crest on her way into the schoolyard, she has a lot to be grateful for. Your generosity will make it possible for more children to proudly touch that same crest and be welcomed to St James.”
*Student names have been changed for privacy.