Principal's Welcome

It was with a great sense of relief that we welcomed back to the College Year 11 and Year 12 students this week. I know the students were very excited to be returning to school and even those who may not have school as one of their favourite pastimes were happy to be back with their mates and teachers. The excitement was palpable and infectious with smiles and laughter once again filling the rooms and hallways.

Over the next two weeks we will welcome back the remaining students and we are all very excited to be planning for their return. I will keep our families informed as we move closer to the date of the students returning on Monday 25 May.

St Thomas of Villanova Learning Centre
The new St Thomas of Villanova Learning Centre will be handed over to the College on Monday 18 May at 5.00 pm. Following the hand-over of the building we will commence the commissioning process to prepare for occupancy.

Details of the plan appear below:

Tuesday 19 May – Thursday 28 May:  Furniture and teaching equipment will be installed.
Tuesday 19 May – Monday 8 June:  Audio-visual equipment and IT infrastructure including internet, bells and security cameras will be installed, tested, and commissioned.
Monday 8 June – Friday 12 June:  Staff teaching materials and administration materials transferred across to the new building.
Monday 15 June – Building ready to be occupied.

I am confident the students and the staff will be thrilled with the new facilities and teaching spaces once they become available. It has been a massive project and I wish to acknowledge the support of the College Board and the Building and Capital Committee. In particular, the Chair of the Building and Capital Committee, Mr Michael Schaumburg, has provided sound and reasoned advice throughout the project and has assisted enormously in his own time to deliver an excellent building.

Eighth Avenue Drop-off/Pick-up Zone
I understand the frustration of our parents when cars from builders and neighbours park illegally in the zones in Eighth Avenue reserved for morning drop-offs and afternoon pick-ups. I have personally communicated our concerns with the building company and also informed Brisbane City Council of the need to patrol this location, especially in the morning.

When we move the Junior School to the new building, we will work with Brisbane City Council to re-design the drop-off/pick-up zone to allow a more efficient flow of traffic.

While this planning is taking place, I ask for your patience and understanding. Please do not park in a manner which may put young lives at risk. We must all be aware we are sharing the streets with our neighbours and as such we should never park across someone’s driveway or block the street.

Parent-Teacher Conferences
Following the Mid-Semester reporting period, it was planned to hold Parent-Teacher Conferences in April. Unfortunately, due to the gathering restrictions this was not possible. The College is currently seeking the best method for meeting with parents face to face.  Once our planning is completed, I will communicate home how we will conduct Parent-Teacher Conferences.

Prayers
We are certainly fortunate in Australia, and in particular Queensland, not to have experienced a high  number of deaths due to the Coronavirus. We are thankful for our island nation and the care of our medical staff. Let us keep in our prayers those in our world who have lost loved ones and continue to deal with severe restrictions.

You have made us for Yourself O Lord
And our hearts are restless until they rest in You.

God bless
Mr Mark Stower, Principal

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Teaching and Learning

It has been fantastic to see our Year 11 and Year 12 students back on campus this week. The Premier’s decision to allow Senior students to return to classes was a welcome relief for both staff and students alike. After three weeks of Learning@Home, the desire to again engage face to face with their teachers was made very clear to me by a large number of students over the past few days. Connection is paramount. Within many educational conversations relating to boys’ education, it is not uncommon to hear an individual state that ‘Boys don’t learn subjects, boys learn teachers’. This comment is based on one of the many principles of boys’ education whereby the teacher-student relationship is vital. Although the content in many subjects could quite easily be delivered in an online environment, it is discussions, the going deeper with particular concepts, the questioning and the enquiry that makes face to face learning so important.

Whilst Year 11 and Year 12 have re-commenced classes, we are still mindful that the remainder of our students are still Learning@Home. I speak on behalf of all of our teachers in saying that we are hopeful of the rest of the College returning on 25 May. In the meantime, our hard-working teachers continue to deliver the curriculum remotely.

There are a number of events and activities in the College calendar that have been postponed or cancelled due to the COVID-19 situation. From an academic perspective, the College is currently considering its options when it comes to parent-teacher interviews and reporting. I will communicate with parents next week the College’s plan to give parents and students feedback on their learning across Semester 1.

In the midst of what has been a gloomy time, there is certainly something significant on the horizon for the College to celebrate. In approximately three weeks, the College will have the fully completed St Thomas of Villanova Learning Centre to use for teaching and learning. Whilst Junior and Year 12 classes will likely move in for the start of Semester 2, it is with excitement that our teachers will be able to start accessing the building to prepare these spaces. I have been fortunate enough to have had a couple of tours and I am excited by what I have seen. Classrooms have been designed with flexibility in mind, breakout spaces have been attached to provide smaller group and collaborative opportunities, whilst a larger foyer and a variety of amphitheatres will provide larger areas for students to gather. The use of glass will allow all who enter the building to not only feel a connection to the outside environment but experience a vista of the city that is second only to those students who study in the Veritas building classrooms. The photo below shows a view from Eighth Avenue. More to come over the next few weeks as we start to occupy the building.

Mr John Christie, Dean of Teaching and Learning

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Junior School

It is officially beginning, and we now have some boxes arriving into classrooms so teachers can start packing resources.  The new Junior School precinct is taking shape with cupboards, IT connections and spaces coming to life.  This is so exciting and is the fruition of four years of staff research, visits around Australia to Learning Centres, Collaborative and Reflective Pod discussions, and trials conducted in Junior School spaces.  This is something to wake us from our Learning@Home phase and shine a light for over 300 students looking forward to innovative and 21st century skills within our curriculum.

Physically, the spaces allow plenty of natural light and connect the outside world (gardens and city views) with our boys.  Glass panels between shared teaching spaces will connect year levels like never before – all Year 5 classes are side by side, as are the Year 6 classes.  It is a presence in community like St Augustine wanted!  Each learning space is U shaped – the potential for groupings in instruction, teaching, learning, and reflection are limited only to what the students can manage according to their needs and abilities.  Teachers are excited about continuing to work with their professional partnerships and having the chance to showcase their research and tools for accountability, completion and tracking of student progress in meeting targets across learning with more flexibility.

Socially and emotionally, we are ready for the St Thomas of Villanova Learning Centre experience to begin.  After weeks of Learning@Home we have found that our skills in problem solving and communicating have already improved greatly, because they simply had to with social distancing, but also this time has given us more information about how the boys self-manage, organise, regulate their motivation, focus, and follow instructions.  21st century skills in full view!

Our world managing a pandemic with COVID-19 has brought the importance of critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, communication, information/media/technology literacy, and flexibility to a conscious state for us all as learners.  The “how do I?” part of learning online has seen students take calculated risks, work out alternative ways to show their results, and understand that communicating effectively can make sense out of any situation.

The interiority (one of our College values) of learning has come to light – can I apply myself, trust my instincts and achieve my best if given the right details and guidance?  Am I someone who can work to capacity on my own – or do I work best with a partner (thanks Mum/Dad/teachers) – or am I craving the contributions of working in a team situation like in Term 1?  Whether our sons can articulate it or not, every “I’m bored,” or “I’m over this,” means, “I’m ready for working with others” and “I work best watching/listening to others”.

More than ever, teachers now can appreciate the art of their verbal instructions, and the timely use of feedback to keep boys on task, working to their true potential and consolidating the learning goals set for each lesson.  Staff have also learned that there are many ways they can set a platform for learning and Learning@Home has shown us what works best for some, is a lot less talking at the “front” of the classroom.  Our challenge in the St Thomas of Villanova Learning Centre – no designated “front” – rather, points of access and support stations.

Over the remainder of Term 2, we have a designated plan, so that we are ready to permanently reside in the St Thomas of Villanova Learning Centre as a Junior School.  In my time here at Villanova College, I am returning to the corner of the grounds where the Junior School used to be!  This will be the third relocation of Year 5 and Year 6 in my 16 years here.  Boys’ education has changed an incredible amount in this time, and in my career, I have seen many ways to work with young students.  I strongly believe that the Junior School community is ready, willing, and able to work wonders in our new spaces.  I look forward to finding ways so that you can all visit and see first-hand how learning has changed, for the better, since the days in “the old schoolyard”.  How fortunate the boys are to be a part of history at Villanova.  How grateful we are as professionals to every Villanovan who has paved the way for us to be doing this in 2020.  What would that class of 1956 say if they could see us now?  We are worth it, we deserve it, and now we make it something to be proud of.

Mr Stephen Rouhliadeff, Head of Junior School

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Senior School

Year 11 and 12 School Return
The energy and enthusiasm witnessed in the Senior School precinct and Veritas classrooms throughout this week with the return of our Year 11 and 12 students was certainly infectious and it was comforting to commence the pathway back to some modicum of normalcy. The reunion of students with their peers and teachers also reinforced how fundamental relationships are to the fabric of boys’ education. Boys are relational learners and the classroom is the arena where ideas are explored, challenged, and tested in discussion, debate, and dialogue.

Learning@home, however, provided our Senior students with the opportunity to develop as independent learners and offered a degree of flexibility within their daily program which was certainly appreciated in the feedback I have received in talking with students in the yard across the week. I am hopeful that such conditioning to a pseudo-tertiary environment will stand our young men in good stead in their Year 13 beyond the College gates.

Student Wellbeing
Continuing with a focus on the four pillars of positive health and wellbeing, I would like to emphasise the importance of our Senior School students re-establishing consistent sleep routines as we return to onsite learning. Given the workload demands associated with the rigour of Senior studies, students need to be conscious of sustaining their focus in order to perform at their best throughout the duration of the school day. One driving force in maintaining focus is good sleep.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, teenagers require eight to ten hours of sleep a night to function at optimum levels. But are our young men consistently meeting this target? The impact of sleep-deprivation is quite alarming. Not only do sleep deprived teens perform more poorly academically, they are more likely to exhibit risk-taking behaviours, moodiness, aggression, and poor decision making.

The website www.helpguide.org provides students and parents with practical tips for getting a good night’s sleep. They recommend the following:

  1. Make sleep a priority
  2. Avoid foods and beverages that may interfere with your sleep, especially from the afternoon onwards (especially caffeine)
  3. Avoid physical exercise late at night
  4. Limit electronic devices in the bedroom – light exposure from mobile phones and computers cues the brain to stay awake
  5. Have a regular routine in place – consistent bedtimes and wake-up times and organise everything for school the next day (uniform etc…) the night before.

Student Resilience
The unprecedented Covd-19 pandemic has thrown the gauntlet down to our students and has tested their resilience and mental fortitude in how they have responded to the disruption to their studies and overall school experience. Building and maintaining student resilience, grit and emotional muscle continue to be key priorities in our care and development of our young men.

According to Dr Andrew Wicking, co-founder of Resilient Youth Australia (RYA), the greatest impact on enhancing educational engagement and in turn increasing the probability of positive academic outcomes, is to maintain and look to improve student resilience. Furthermore, RYA consider resilience as the feeling of being connected, protected, and respected- the CPR of wellbeing.

By building resilience in our Senior School students, we are empowering and equipping them to face the obstacles in their path- such as a global pandemic- with greater optimism and self-assuredness.

“Enthusiasm is common. Endurance is rare.” – Dr Angela Duckworth

Mr Matt Levander, Head of Senior School

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Ministry News

AFAS News
I would like to give the first words this week to AFAS President, Nathan Farrelly:

As you would know, the Coronavirus situation is ever changing; and in countries like the Philippines, this is a constant source of fear and anxiety. Combined with the struggles many face in everyday life, those living there have been finding it tough to survive. AFAS has heard stories of incredible acts of solidarity within the Filipino community, and whilst all deserve to be recognised, I would like to draw your attention to the story of one of our scholars, Althea Victoria.

Althea and her two brothers

Althea is a lot like you or I; she is in Grade 9 and attends Divino Amore Academy in Cebu – one of our sister schools. What separates her from the crowd is that she has no parents; she and her two brothers live by themselves and she has taken up motherly duties; cooking, cleaning, and taking care of her siblings whilst being a full-time student. This is why AFAS decided to give her a scholarship, because of her incredible actions. The scholarship means that the generous contributions of Villanova families pay for Althea’s education each year.

She asked, and friends of AFAS delivered. Specifically, essential groceries and safe drinking water so that she and her brothers have what they need as she cannot go out during lockdown. AFAS gives a future, not just for Althea, but also for her siblings.

Other students of Divino Amore Academy have shared their experiences as well. Giselle Marie and Crystal Catherine May C Bollo have provided us with an idea of what it is like in the Philippines. Many are afraid for loved ones who work away from home, and all have to stay indoors, which, as you would expect, can get VERY boring.

What gives them hope is God; their knowledge about his love and trust has assisted them in persisting in these tough times, and for many, the stories of God’s care are a source of hope and comfort, and they find solace in God’s plan for them, however uncertain times seem.

Nathan Farrelly, AFAS President, 2020

Real Presence
One of the more penetrating Social Distancing cartoons depicts the risen Christ tiptoeing into a locked Zoom meeting of the 11 Apostles:

Doubting Thomas’ point is a good one, and his doubts seem to me to be sensible. When you think about it, our situation as a Christian community today, 2000 years later, is like being in a Zoom meeting and asked to believe that the risen Christ is in the meeting, with both mic and camera turned off.

So how would we reach the conclusion that Christ is in the locked room? My feeling is that the answer is a life-long faith journey, and that it is far easier to reach a working conclusion that Christ is in the room if you are part of a faith community.

Not every aspect of a community Mass can currently be shared, especially receiving Communion. But what the College is able to do is to break open the Gospel readings, and share in prayer and  ritual, whilst gathering virtually as a community. Maybe the most important sign that these practices create a faith community is seen in works of service. As soon as the Year 11 and 12s returned, over 25 of them chose to go into a St Vincent de Paul meeting in their lunch break, because they want to reach out to local people who may need some practical support and compassion during the time of social distancing.

May 22 – Service for the Feast of St Rita
Next Friday, May 22, is the Feast of St Rita. The College will produce a special video service for the occasion, including a homily by Fr Peter Jones OSA, the Prior Provincial. Fr Peter was to have been our special guest for a whole College Mass next Friday. Instead, he will offer his insights from Sydney about the importance of St Rita as a model of Christian courage and reconciliation. As with our ANZAC Service, other elements of the video will include community prayer, music, and the Gospel reading. There will also be a special procession in the St Rita of Cascia featuring red roses which are associated with St Rita.

St Monica’s Kitchen
On the subject of deliveries of gifts to the community, St Monica’s Kitchen has had a great week. Fr Saldie was able to deliver much-needed meals to one staff family where the regular family “chef” has had to receive hospital treatment. He has also made deliveries to the Archbishop Romero refugee centre in Dutton Park and this is what they said in reply:

“Thank you so much for bringing the donations to Romero Centre! Please pass on our most sincere gratitude to all your staff and students for their ongoing support!

For the period from the beginning of April to now, we have distributed over 150 emergency food/toiletry parcels to families and individuals. We cannot do this without your support!!! Big thank you from Romero Centre team!” (Sarah Pan, Community Support Co-ordinator).

Importantly, many of these donations have gone to international students. Such students are cut off from home and do not have access to Job Seeker nor Job Keeper allowances. The Romero Centre are short of the essential supplies which they give to international students, like rice, tins of tuna, sugar, cooking oil, flour, hygiene items, and tinned food.

Many of you would know the story of St Oscar Romero, who was shot dead by military police in El Salvador whilst celebrating Mass. Even if the host cannot be delivered, I am absolutely certain that both he and the risen Jesus would recognise sacramental presence in these deliveries of bread and frozen meals.

If you would like to take some of the free frozen meals, e.g. for a family member or a neighbour, please email stmonicaskitchen@vnc.qld.edu.au

YCS – Brothers in Arms
A few Year 12 students joined the Junior School last Friday for handball and then a General Knowledge quiz about the College with Freddo Frog prizes. This was a small and practical way of preparing the ground for sharing the St Thomas of Villanova Learning Centre when it opens.

Letters to residents of local nursing home: teamwork with Lourdes Hill
We have posted the first batch of letters to elderly residents in our community who are appreciating this way of reaching out the hand of friendship. We have now teamed up with students of Lourdes Hill College, setting ourselves the target of sending a letter to each resident at Lorocco Nursing Home. Please email me if you would like to join in with this initiative – jholroyd@vnc.qld.edu.au

The Villa Man Podcast
The Villa Man podcast will return next week, continuing the conversation about how to form fine young men with some of the student leaders from 2019.

Domestic Violence week prayer
This is part of a prayer created by Campus Minister Fr Saldie Resolado OSA for our community this week: Let us pray that we may understand how domestic and family violence starts; may we recognise different kinds of abuse; may we find the right help for victims; may we appropriately support people affected by abuse; and may we encourage perpetrators to change their behaviour for their own sake and the children’s. We make this prayer through the heart of the risen Christ, Amen.

You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.

Mr John Holroyd, Dean of Mission and Identity

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Sport

As the weeks progress, more and more information come to hand regarding the plans for the return of community sport in Queensland. Earlier this week the Government released a document:  Queensland Government Roadmap to Easing Queensland’s Restrictions.

This roadmap outlines a staged approach to giving Queenslanders more freedom to travel, participate in more activities and hold more gatherings. This includes some limited information about the return of community sporting events as well.

The road map outlines three gradual stages. At each stage, the restrictions are eased more and more. This document outlines the type of restrictions the government will put in place at each stage and more specifically, what activities and numbers are permissible.

Over time key stakeholders across many sporting bodies (including school and club sport administrators) have been eagerly waiting a ‘green light’ from the government with regards to what sporting activities can recommence and when. As quoted from the Queensland Government website “The Queensland Government is currently working with key industry bodies and organisations to develop a set of guidelines and a process for consideration of COVID SAFE plans for the Chief Health Officer. Following consultation, the Queensland Government are working to release the guidance material on Friday 15 May for community sporting bodies. The Government will assist community sporting organisations to complete COVID SAFE return to play checklists, monitor implementation and respond to any community enquiries about the arrangements.

This information will be released by the Government tomorrow.

The AIC Management Committee and AIC Directors of Sport are waiting to learn the details found within the ‘guidance material’ which will be laid out from the Government in their press release tomorrow (Friday 15 May). This information will provide more detail to all sports administrators across the state to enable them to prepare for their respective sporting seasons ahead.

As reported in the last two Villa View’s, the AIC Association hopes to offer a program in Term 3 whereby basketball, tennis, cross country, rugby union, football, chess, and rugby league sports are all offered. In order to fit this in, the thinking presently is that the basketball/tennis season and the rugby union/football/chess season will be played over a half season each, that is, only four – five  weeks in length. Rugby league could be played in a tournament style format, perhaps over a two – three day period in the September holidays. All of this will be confirmed in the coming weeks.

According to the Queensland Government Roadmap to Easing Queensland’s Restrictions document and if all goes well within our community we may well commence trials for whatever sports are played first up in Term 3 on Saturday 11 July. This is the last Saturday of the June/July holidays. All going to plan, Round 1 of whichever sports are played first in Term 3 will occur the very first weekend back in Term 3 on Saturday 18 July. Therefore, we have limited time to get teams organised.

As we cannot trial before 10 July and may play Round 1 on 18  July it is imperative that all students who want to play AIC sport in the first half season of Term 3 (whatever sports they are, but very likely to be tennis and basketball) must attend trials on Saturday 11 July. It will be a one session trial only, after which teams will be selected and all teams will have a further two training sessions in Term 3, Week 1 to prepare for Round 1. We are keen to keep these as training sessions and not further trial sessions. If students do not attend the trials on Saturday 11 July, they are likely not to make a team. Please keep this date free.

Unfortunately, given the timeframe and circumstances, we have no option but to follow the proposed schedule above. We are hoping for your understanding.

As time progresses, I hope to provide you with further updates in next week’s Villa View.  Once the season and dates are sorted, the Sports Office will then publish all information regarding sign-ons/trials/training schedules etc.

In the meantime, I encourage all boys to keep fit, because when games commence, we plan to go full bore!

 Mr Craig Stariha, Director of Sport

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Music

Tuned In Podcast – Episode 4
We released the fourth episode from our Tuned In podcast this afternoon.  This week Strings Captain Oliver Timms, Brass Captain Dylan Crouch, and Woodwind Captain Joel Henders take time to discuss their involvement with music throughout their schooling careers.  From communicating what grabbed their attention in their early stages, to what has maintained their interest across the past eight years or more, we learn a little about what music has afforded these students through their time here with us.  The boys were joined by Eli Capra, one of our fantastic Year 5 musicians, who shared his musical experience here and before his time at Villanova. We really hope you enjoy this week’s episode – click on the image to begin listening.

Message from the Director of Music
As restrictions are released and students all start heading back to school and regular activities, we will experience what may become known as ‘the new normal.’  Life will resemble that which happened before the Covid-19 lockdown, but it will not be the same.  We will be experiencing an interesting juxtaposition of freedom with restrictions.

You will have seen many protests for different reasons across the globe, most particularly against the lockdowns people are experiencing and how this is impacting their personal liberties.  I empathise where people are angry or frightened because they have lost livelihoods; I am also cognisant of the fact that we have a personal responsibility to keep our community safe, particularly the vulnerable.

Whilst our Senior students (excepting Year 10) returned this week, we look forward to Week 6 when, hopefully, we will have everyone back on campus.  However, we will be working in a ‘new normal’ context.  This will be different to before and we will require greater awareness and consideration of others as we operate in this new space.  I know that as we return to rehearsals and lessons in person, we will embrace the change and stay the course for the greater good of our community.

I hope you enjoy this week’s message:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HWrEsCKb_jI

Ensemble lessons and rehearsals from Week 4
Correspondence emailed home to families late last week communicated some changes to our routine in the Music Department due to the return of students to the College.  For the remainder of this week and next, we will continue with the following:

  • Students onsite will meet their teacher in person, or Zoom for their music lesson, from the Augustine Centre. Students sign in as per usual and move to one of the tutorial rooms in the AC.
  • Rehearsals will commence with hygiene practices and social distancing for Year 11 and Year 12 students on campus using our usual rehearsal schedule.
  • Middle School and Senior School ensembles will commence rehearsals at 7.50am before school, and 3.15pm after school. All Junior School ensembles will continue their rehearsals at either 8am or 2.20pm.

Information regarding processes from Week 6 onwards will be communicated home next week.  Please note that there may be some adjustment of the rehearsal schedule to allow access to rooms at the appropriate times ensuring physical distancing.  We thank you for your continued patience as we work through this process.

Stay in Touch
We will be maintaining contact via email, through the Villanova Music Facebook page, and through your son’s OneNote music diaries.  Should you require assistance or consumables for your son’s instrument, please do not hesitate to contact the Music Office on 3394 5691.  Leave a voicemail if it’s unattended – we will get back to you!

Thank you all for your continued support of Villanova Music.  We are glad to continue to be of service to you and your son as we navigate this challenging time together.

Mr Michael Jones, Director of Music

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Parent Information

Uniform Shop – Revised Trading Hours
The Shop will be open each day between 8.00am and 12noon in the week Monday 18 May until Friday 22 May by appointment only.  Parents/caregivers are asked to book their appointment using this link to avoid over-crowding in the Uniform Shop.  Please do not turn up un-announced as the wait time will cause frustration. Normal trading hours will resume when all students have returned to school.

Villanova Business Directory
We’ve had some new entries in our Villanova Business Directory. Let’s support Villanova family businesses and College sponsors where possible.
https://www.vnc.qld.edu.au/our-college/villanova-business-directory/

 

 

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Archive Anecdotes

Villanova House System: James Dominic Murray (Bishop of Cooktown)
This is the third article about the Villanova House system

James Dominic Murray was born in Ireland in 1847 and in 1883 was sent from Ireland to the Vicariate of North Queensland.  He served as Parish Priest at Herberton from 1884 until 1887, then established a parish at Croydon.  Father Murray served at Cooktown until 1890, then transferred to Echuca in Northern Victoria  to the Augustinian parish there.

In 1898 he was appointed as Bishop, and returned to far North Queensland.  Cooktown was almost a ghost town after thousands of miners had fled the gold mines, so Bishop Murray moved the centre of the Vicariate to the small parish of Cairns.  At this time, only two centres had Catholic schools run by religious Sisters, and  his challenge over the next 16 years was to provide four new schools staffed and administered by the Sisters of the Good Samaritans and the Sisters of Mercy.

Bishop Murray is remembered as being gregarios, outgoing and an extrovert, often making house visits which was most unusual for a Bishop.  Over a five month period in 1911, he attempted to visit every known Catholic family in the Vicariate.

He died in 1914 and is acknowledged for developing and reinforcing the Catholic presence in far North Queensland, and making a significant contribution in preparing it for elevation into a Diocese.

Here at Villanova College we acknowledge his contribution to education in Queensland and his dedication to the Augustinian faith through Murray House.

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