The Kostka Chapel at Xavier College, Melbourne – it’s more than just a building!

Father General visiting the Australian Province – Blessing of the Kostka Building

In the spirit that animates the paradigm of Ignatian pedagogy, Xavier College offers young boys a programme from Years 6 to 12 of secondary education. The institution portrays itself as authentically Jesuit, stating that “a Jesuit education encourages independent thought, reflection and discernment”. January in Australia is the height of summer, and when Father General visited the institution, the students were still on their holidays. However, the choir took part in the Eucharist presided by Fr Sosa, and a welcoming committee including other students ensured a warm welcome for the distinguished visitor.

An important moment during the visit was the blessing by the Superior General of a plaque marking the construction of a new building: Kostka Hall with its chapel. This building now houses the 7th and 8th grade students who were previously housed in another part of the city. The rector, Fr Christopher Middleton, points out that the new building will enable the students to become more integrated into the life of the College. The older students, in grades 11 and 12, will be called upon to mentor the younger ones. In addition, there will be advantages for extracurricular activities in music and sports.


The Kostka Chapel, a sacred space with around 70 seats, includes high-quality stained glass windows representing the Stations of the Cross. These were part of the chapel in the former Kostka Hall, which was recently closed. The chapel will be used for Friday Eucharistic celebrations, to which parents and grandparents are always welcome. It will also provide a dedicated space for religious education and youth ministry activities.

A chapel, Masses, pastoral activities... are Australian teenagers all fervent Catholics? Here’s what Christopher Middleton has to say:

“Xavier faces many of the same challenges as others in nurturing the spirituality and faith of our students in a very secular context. There are, though, good signs of life. We have a retreat programme across all years, and in their last year, the voluntary Kairos retreat is offered four times a year in holiday time, and it has waiting lists. There is a very strong Ignatian service programme with most of our boys involved, and this is complemented by immersion programmes with our indigenous peoples, and in Thailand, India and East Timor. The celebration of the Eucharist plays a key role in all aspects of school life, with excellent support from our Music Department. The promotion of the Ignatian Examen and reflection more generally, as well as drawing links between, on the one hand, wellbeing and spirituality and, on the other, cultivating a sense of generous service, are significant influences on the boys – they take to the motto ‘men for and with others’. Our Religious Education programme seeks to promote an intelligent approach to faith that is unafraid of questions.”


Fr. Christopher Middleton.

The rector also mentioned elements of Xavier’s programme that are clearly linked to the Society’s Universal Apostolic Preferences. In addition to the Kairos retreats already mentioned, follow-up is offered in sharing groups. Elements of Ignatian spirituality are adapted to the staff as well. The Spiritual Exercises in Daily Life are offered throughout the year and invitations are extended for pilgrimages to Ignatian places in Spain and Rome. The “Ignatian service” plays an important role: almost all the students are involved in service activities with people in need. For example, providing educational support for the children of refugees, accompanying children with disabilities and visiting aged care facilities. The Xavier Social Justice Network involves some 200 parents in a variety of social services. Finally, environmental considerations were taken into account in the construction of the new buildings.

To conclude, here is an extract from the homily given by Fr Arturo Sosa, Superior General, at the Eucharistic celebration with the Jesuits and their partners in the mission after the blessing of the new Kostka building.

“We must remind ourselves of what the Lord’s power is really all about. In his Christmas homily just last December, Pope Francis reflects on the infant Jesus in Bethlehem and tells us that ours is not so much a god of accomplishment and worldly success, but a god of Incarnation, of presence to His people. The Holy Father says that Jesus ‘does not eliminate injustice from above by a show of power, but from below, by a show of love. He does not burst on the scene with limitless power but descends to the narrow confines of our lives. He does not shun our frailties, but makes them his own.’


Our God is not a god who waves a magic wand to make all problems disappear, but one who accompanies wounded humanity with tenderness and mercy. As St Paul says, ‘... neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.’

You and I, we are invited to entrust our lives in the hands of this loving God, especially in times of distress and adversity. (...)

We are always truly in God’s hands, even when we think and feel that we are on our own. We pray today for the grace to remember this always, and for the grace of a stronger faith, so that we might not fear to move forward in service to all.”

Share this Post:
Posted by Communications Office - Editor in Curia Generalizia
Communications Office
The Communications Office of the General Curia publishes news of international scope on the central government of the Society of Jesus and on the commitments of the Jesuits and their partners. It also handles media relations.

Related Posts: