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Bishop Hugh Ryan
Hugh Ryan was born on April 25, 1888. Before becoming a Bishop, Hugh studied in Rome and was a priest in many towns around Australia.
He was appointed Bishop of Townsville in 1938. Bishop Hugh Ryan is remembered for his fellowship with his priest, and for encouraging lay people to take on roles in the Church. In his 29 years as Bishop of Townsville, he grew the Catholic community to be an important fabric in the life of Townsville and North Queensland, in the fields of education, health, and social welfare.
Bishop Hugh was noted for:
- responding to the needs of the people,
- his pastoral care during the war years,
- passion for the education of children,
- a readiness to accept advice from the laity (he engaged with ‘ordinary’ people, not just priests and religious),
- an ecumenical vision (he looked to engage all Christians in celebration and service),
- and the building of the Mater Hospital and Ozcare Villa Vincent.
Bishop Hugh’s motto, Stay with us Lord, taken from the Emmaus story, remains the College motto. His personable nature and commitment to the importance of Baptism in the Catholic tradition informs our current practice of calling each community member by their first name.
The Emmaus Story
The Emmaus Story is found in the Gospel according to Luke (24:13-35), which provides the central image for the three-day experience and follow-up. Luke describes the afternoon of Jesus’ resurrection, when the risen Christ appeared to the two disciples who were walking together along the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus. The disciples were preoccupied with their sadness and hopelessness and they had lost their faith in God’s promises..
Even so, Jesus "came near and went with them," but they did not recognise him. As they walked to Emmaus, Jesus explained to them the meaning of all the scriptures concerning himself. When they arrived in Emmaus, the disciples invited Jesus to “Stay with us”. He did, and whenJesus "took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them," and their eyes were opened. They recognized him as Jesus, the risen Lord, and they remembered how their hearts had burned within them as they talked with him on the road. Within the hour, the two disciples left Emmaus and returned immediately to their friends in Jerusalem. As they told stories about their encounters with the risen Lord, Jesus visited them all and gave them hope.
Ryan Catholic College was established by the Catholic Diocese of Townsville in 1979 to serve the rapidly developing areas on the outskirts of the city and the corridor development of the Upper Ross area.
In order to foster a sense of community and to provide a support for family life, the College was planned as a co-educational institution from its inception. It was Townsville’s first co-educational Catholic College for children from Preschool to Year 12.
Named after Bishop Hugh Ryan (the long-serving Catholic Bishop of Townsville), Ryan started in January 1979 with 74 boys and girls in Years 1, 2, 3 and 8. Early newsletters called for parents’ help with tree planting, the first school fair, playground equipment and outdoor seating. It truly was a community effort in establishing the school. The first Principal was Barry Taylor, who led a staff of 5. By 1980, Years 4, 5 and 9 had been added and, as our reputation grew, additional groups followed until we received full Year 1 to 12 status in 1983. In 1992, a two-stream pre-school was added. A separate kindergarten is situated on the expansive premises.
The Junior Campus was opened in 2001, beginning with a new intake of Year 1 students. 2004 saw a full complement of students from Preschool (later Prep) to Year 4. In 2015, a dedicated Middle School Precinct for years 5 to 8 was opened and blessed, comprising both general and specialist learning areas, including state-of-the science and art textiles. The Precinct is located on the Junior Campus, with four streams in each year level.
The past 40 years have seen rapid growth in the Townsville outer suburbs, and Ryan Catholic College is now Townsville’s largest Catholic College, with enrolments of almost 2,000 students and 255 staff. The school’s size means students are offered a great depth in academic, sporting and extra-curricular pursuits. The school maintains a special caring culture by supporting individual students and their families and offering students the broadest range of academic, sporting and pastoral care available.
From humble beginnings as a small community school which opened in 1979, Ryan Catholic College has become Townsville’s leader in the provision of Catholic education.
We would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land, the Wulgurukaba people. We also acknowledge their neighbouring brothers and sisters on the land, the Bindal people. We pay our respects to elders past present and emerging. May we walk gently and peacefully on this land together.