31 March 2012
The legions of St Bede’s old boys spread around New Zealand will enjoy the very thorough and well-written history of St Bede’s produced for their centenary.
The Faith of Our Fathers, The History of St Bede’s College 1911-2011, all 458 pages of it, is a handsome, hard-covered history written by David McCarthy, an old boy of the school and a journalist by profession.
A history such as this is a major undertaking requiring an enormous amount of research and good informational architecture to guide the reader and maintain interest. With so much information to sort through, the ability to select and shape is of the essence.
The Faith of Our Fathers begins with St Bede himself and then onto an excellent chapter on Marist origins and the founding of St Bede’s as an offshoot of the Marist’s first college in New Zealand, St Patrick’s College, Wellington.
St Bede’s was first established in Ferry Road in 1911 but the lack of a boarding school led to it being re-established in Papanui in 1920.
This history charts the growth of the college from its small beginnings to today’s impressive college, flourishing under lay leadership, with its Special Marist Character to the fore.
This carefully researched history charts the college’s eventful journey through major social and religious change.
The narrative is blended with plenty of colourful anecdotes and a long list of profiles of rectors and old boys who have made a significant contribution to the college and New Zealand life.
One quibble only – the book’s photography could have been stronger in capturing the colour of school life through the ages.
Overall however, David McCarthy has done a great job. His professional skills as a journalist and his hard work as a researcher have resulted in a fluent and absorbing read which will be a very valuable reference book in years to come.
Michael Fitzsimons was the author of Sectare Fidem: a history of St Patrick’s College Wellington 1885–2010.