Monday, 7 December 2020

Catholic Education: A new Catholic School. St Peter's International College

During the course of this year, I have been working away at a new and exciting project in France, as part of the founding team of a new International Catholic School. 

Since it's conception we had chosen the name of Saint Peter as the Patron, giving expression to the bedrock on which it was to be built - our Catholic Faith. After looking at various sites, it can only have been Divine Providence that led us to a village of the same name: Saint Pierre de Maillé nestling in the beautiful region of Poitou deep in the heart of France, an the former Convent of the Daughters of the Cross, founded by the village's very own saint, Saint André-Hubert Fournet. 

In the aftermath of the French Revolution ‘Le Bon Père’, as he was known, sought to educate children and care for the sick. His Daughters of the Cross still care for the elderly and infirm, and now Saint Peter’s is continuing his work of catechising the young. In his life Saint André-Hubert persevered despite great trials, including exile and arrest, we want our students to learn to trust God in all things. Our task is to lead them to a closer knowledge of God and themselves. Indeed, in founding the school, such trials have already beset us and yet we have already come so far.

Pope Benedict taught that faith must be “tangible in our schools” and “given fervent expression liturgically, sacramentally, through prayer, acts of charity, a concern for justice, and respect for God’s creation”. Through our daily cycle of prayer, we seek to instill in our boys a rhythm of prayer that will stay with them for life. But we also emphasize that action can also be prayer. They are encouraged to care for one another, and perform acts of charity both within and without the College. Saint André-Hubert often said to his Sisters: “Have courage! You work for Heaven!” Two centuries later, we make this our message of hope to the young people under our care. 

Although the school this year only took on boys as we started up, we hope very much to be welcoming girls, on a separate site, as soon as possible. 

You can see more of our fascinating project on our website at:

Saint Peter's International College, France (

A view of our chapel - Our Lady of the Rosary - from across the River Gartempe.

It's been a very challenging process to move so quickly from conception to reality, especially in this Covid year but we can only believe that it has been through God's Providence that we managed it. We received such a warm welcome from the village; from the good Sisters who still have a small house next door and from the Archbishop. The whole project has only been possible with the support of generous benefactors and investors, as well as our patrons, governors and advisors

We still have great challenges ahead, to grow our numbers, to get the Girl's School up and running and to continue the refurbishment of the main House (long named St André, with the statue of the Sacred Heart surmounting the front door). The next stage will be upon us immediately after Christmas, so we are reaching out to those who share the vision of a truly Catholic education who may be interested in either donating or who might consider joining our other investors who have seen the potential growth in building a school for the future.

The courtyard by night.

I will post some more about various aspects of school life and our journey on this amazing project. Despite the challenges, it's been a great jolt of joy for my own personal faith: to be part of building and growing something with other like-minded Catholics in these days, when so much in the Church seems to be shrinking and closing, has been an inspiration. I'd like to say a huge thank you to all those who I have worked beside over these months of preparation for their support, their generosity and the example of their faith. We have laboured together with the words of Saint Edmund Campion in our hearts:

“The expense is reckoned, the enterprise is begun; 

it is of God, 

it cannot be withstood. 

So the Faith was planted: so it must be restored.

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