Searching for St Columba

Julie Drake has been a staff member at SCAS for 17 years. In this time, she has assumed many roles and is currently the school’s Human Resources and Compliance Manager. As one of our longest serving members of staff, the SCAS community and its rich history has become a part of her life.

“I have been interested in the history of St Columba since I started working here. I became interested in where the name came from and visiting where it all started has been something I have wanted to do for a long time,” explained Julie.

That is why the Isle of Iona was on Julie’s itinerary of places to see when she headed to Europe on long service leave this year. Iona is a special place for our school as it is where St Columba and his 12 companions arrived in 563AD and founded a monastery transforming the island into a beacon of faith.

The trip was not without its challenges, namely, rough seas and inclement weather that resulted in cancelled ferries. Julie found it hard to imagine how such a journey might have been for St Columba.

“I was very much tired by the weather when I got there and it was probably the third day of cancelled ferries and that is even with our modern technology. St Columba and his colleagues were trying to get there in a little currach!” said Julie.

Julie made note she was by no means an expert on this history of Iona. However, her visit affirmed how fitting it is to have our school named after St Columba. Interestingly, the Island is also connected to the history of the wider Port Macquarie region with Lachlan Macquarie’s mausoleum located close to Iona.

“When the school council were looking at what they would call a Port Macquarie Anglican school they looked at the Scottish history of the area with the likes of Major Innes and Lachlan Macquarie hailing from Scotland. They went looking for a worthy saint to name the school after and they came up with Columba,” Julie explains.

Julie describes the island as having a very special feeling and this is created by the active Christian community that still inhibits the island.

“It is a community of artists and people working towards healing, developing Christian community and caring for each other. I think SCAS is very much about developing community and Iona is a nice connection to aspire to,” says Julie.

While her European adventure is over, Julie now brings back to the grounds of SCAS some of our history and sees a bit of the Iona community in our very own.

“St Columba and the whole Iona community had a focus on learning and were all about being a community. I think SCAS has a similar focus on community and learning and that is really valuable.”


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