St John the Evangelist Catholic High School, Nowra

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St John the Evangelist Catholic High School
East Nowra, NSW, Australia, 2541
Type Coeducational
Motto Pax Christi
Religious affiliation(s) Catholic
Established 1989
Founder Sr Carmel Bainbridge
School code 838
Principal Ms Sandra Hogan
Grades 7-12
Language English
Song Pax Christi

St John the Evangelist Catholic High School, or the colloquial St John's, is a non-selective, coeducational, Catholic systemic high school, located in Nowra, New South Wales, Australia. The school provides inexpensive education to Catholic and non-Catholic families alike.

St John's has approximately 1,000 students, most of whom come from Catholic families. This is in contrast to the local government high schools, which are well in excess of 1,000 students. Many of the school's students do not live in the Nowra area, and travel by bus each day from around the Shoalhaven.


St John's was founded in 1989, as Catholic families in the region wanted a secondary school for their children. Up until 1967 there was a Catholic secondary school provided at St Michael's school, but it was closed due to financial hardship, and Catholic students then had to attend the local state high schools, Shoalhaven High School and Nowra High School, with some families opting to send their children to the Catholic boarding school in the Southern Highlands, Chevalier College. For twenty years local Catholic families would be without a secondary Catholic school.

Local parishioners made efforts to re-establish a secondary school for the youth of the region; their efforts, with the support of Monsignor John Purcell, were largely responsible for the initial stages of development of St John's High School.

St John the Evangelist High School was founded in 1990. The first principal was Sr Carmel Bainbridge. The Sisters of the Good Samaritan had worked in the Nowra Parish since 1893, particularly in the area of the Catholic Education in St Michael's School and State Schools of the region. The Good Samaritans were founded in 1857 by Archbishop John Bede Polding to work with the female convict women, initially, and then moved into the field of Catholic Education generally. The Concept of the gospel parable of the Good Samaritan focuses on Christian Ministry with special emphasis on compassion - a characteristic which expresses itself in relating to persons in the reality of their situation. Polding's patron saint was St John the Evangelist, and as a Benedictine monk he adapted to the rule of St Benedict for the Good Samaritan Congregation; the Benedictine motto is pax the Latin word for "peace". The official feast day for the school is that of St John the Evangelist which is celebrated on 27 December each year. Since this falls during the summer school holidays, the feast day is celebrated near Pentecost.

St John the Evangelist High School is a Diocesan Catholic, co-educational secondary school whose purpose is to provide a Catholic education for students years 7 to 12. The School serves the Shoalhaven and surrounding regions.


Sr Carmel Bainbridge, 1990 - 1992
Mr Frank Leonard, 1992 - 1997
Mr Noel Meadows, 1997 - 2001
Sr Catherine Slatery, 2001
Ms Karen Young, 2001 - 2008
Mr Neil McCann, 2008 - 2015
Ms Sandra Hogan, 2015–Present

House system[edit]

Benedict- Yellow (formerly Cuthbert)
Originally named after Australian athletics great Betty Cuthbert, the House name was changed in 2005. Named after St Benedict.

Chisholm- Red (formerly Bradman)
Originally named after Australian cricketing legend Sir Donald Bradman, the House name was changed in 2005. Named after Caroline Chisholm.

MacKillop- Purple
Formed in 2005 as the fifth house and named after St. Mary MacKillop the founder of the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart

McCabe- Blue (formerly Goolagong)
Originally named after Australian tennis great Evonne Goolagong Cawley, the House name was changed in 2005. Named after Bishop Thomas McCabe, the first Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Wollongong.

Polding- Orange
Formed in 2006 as the sixth house and named after Archbishop John Polding the first Roman Catholic Bishop in Australia and founder of the Sisters of the Good Samaritan.

Purcell- Green (formerly Elliott)
Originally named after Australian athletics great Herb Elliott, the House name was changed in 2005. Named after Monsignor John Purcell, the Parish Priest at the time of the schools' opening and also one of the founders of the school.


St John’s offers a wide range of subjects, apart from just the core subjects outlined by the NSW Board of Studies. Students can select from studying a language, to cooking, or studying wood work, amongst many other subjects. In years 11 and 12, students begin to work towards the Higher School Certificate (HSC), which allows them to either enter university, TAFE, college, or the workforce. Whilst the HSC years are not compulsory in NSW, they are widely popular for students at St John’s, as many students leave St John’s post-HSC to study at the University of Wollongong. As with all Catholic schools in the Catholic Diocese of Wollongong, religious education is compulsory in all years. There is a focus, obviously, on Catholicism, but students learn about all the major religions and non-religions of the world.

Extracurricular activities[edit]

There are a great many number of extracurricular activities at St John’s, ranging from debating and mock trials, to sports, and year group camps. Whilst not all these events are compulsory, they are encouraged.

School camps are a focus for year groups, and years 7, 9, and 12 participate in these. For year 7, the camp provides students with the opportunity to begin socialising with students from other primary schools. Whilst the year 12 camp is to provide students with a short period of relaxation, to encourage them as they begin to study for the HSC. At all camps, students are encouraged to reflect on their spirituality and identity.

Notable alumni[edit]

  • Natalie Abbott - up and coming musical theatre talent [1]
  • Backwards Lemon Squeeze - pop group currently holding the record for most consecutive weeks at #1 in the Bora Bora Top 40 with their debut hit The Tribe Has Spoken
  • Jehnny Gash - of Melbourne radical feminist punk bands Jehnny Gash and the Dead Sea Molls and Sermon on My Mound

See also[edit]


External links[edit]