Following enrolment, each girl is allocated to one of six Houses for sports and cultural competitions in the school. The House community provides a lively and exciting element to each girl’s life beyond the classroom with the annual House Parades a highlight on the school calendar. Below is a little about the people after whom the Houses are named:
AMIENS is a town in France, north of Paris. The first Mother House of the Society of the Sacred Heart was here. There was a high school and a "poor school", free for primary children.
The convent at Amiens was known as "Le Berceau" - the cradle, because it was associated with the beginnings of the Society of the Sacred Heart, where Saint Madeleine Sophie and her companions began working out and living what they wanted the Society to be.
BARAT is named for Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat, the foundress of the Society of the Sacred Heart. She was a French woman, born in a small town, called Joigny, in 1779. Sophie never went to school but was taught very well at home by her brother who eventually became a priest in the Society of Jesus (a Jesuit).
Under the guidance of Louis and Father Varin S.J. she consecrated her life to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. At first she had three companions. Some left but others joined her over the next few years. Madeleine Sophie, although the youngest of the group, was recognised as the wisest and holiest and was made the Superior and later "Mother General".
Together at Amiens in France, they formed the Society of the Sacred Heart, a world-wide religious order of women consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and dedicated to the education of children and adults. Today there are over 4,000 religious in 41 countries.
ERSKINE is named for Janet Erskine Stuart. Erskine College was a sister school at Island Bay in Wellington. It opened in 1905 and closed at the end of 1985.
Janet Erskine Stuart, a strong educationalist and a writer of some note was born into a strongly Anglican family. She became a Catholic as a young woman and soon after joined the Society of the Sacred Heart. She eventually became Mother General of the order - the second from an English-speaking country, and the first to visit New Zealand, which she did in 1913, travelling from Rome by ship just before the first World War.
She had several books published, among them "Sons and Daughters", "The Society of the Sacred Heart" and "The Education of Catholic Girls".
LORETO is named for Loreto Hall, the Catholic Teacher's College in Benson Road, Remuera, Auckland, founded by Archbishop James Liston. It was started in 1950 and lasted until the end of 1984. Loreto Hall was entirely residential and trained only nuns to be teachers, many from Pacific Island countries. The different orders came to appreciate each other's traditions and spirituality.
Two Scottish Sisters came to New Zealand in 1950 to help with the new foundation and a New Zealander, Sister Patricia Mackle taught classes there, was later Mistress of Studies and eventually Principal of the College.
Another rscJ who was especially loved by Loreto Hall students was Sister Margaret D'Ath who travelled around the country and helped the newly trained teachers in their own classrooms.
Later lay women were admitted and still later, young men. The College thus prepared the way, especially in the schools, for the collaboration of laity and religious which has developed in the church now. In its time Loreto Hall was the only tertiary institution open to lay people in the church - the only way they could be educated in their faith at that level.
PHILIPPINE is named for Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne. A French woman, Rose Philippine grew up in Grenoble in the south of France. She became a novice in the Order of Visitation nuns but during the French Revolution all religious orders in France were abolished so the community that Philippine belonged to was dispersed. After the revolution she bought the convent and tried to start the Visitation life again but the other nuns were elderly and found life too hard. At this stage she joined the Society of the Sacred Heart.
Sister Philippine Duchesne longed to carry the Good News of Jesus Christ to the Indian people and finally landed just south of New Orleans with four companions in 1818. They began a school in St Charles but most of the people were very poor and after a short time they closed that school. They moved to Florissant where the Bishop, with money sent by Mother Barat earlier, had a three-storey brick convent built. A high school was established there. Soon Mother Duchesne was able to start a noviceship and Mother Barat sent two more nuns from France to start another school at Grand Coteau. Four more convents were started in other parts of the United States but still there was no work with the Indian people for whom Philippine had come. It was 1842, when Philippine was 71, that she was finally sent to Sugar Creek, Kansas, where a school for Indian girls was opened.
She was declared a Saint on July 3rd, 1988.
STUART is named for Janet Erskine Stuart. She was born in 1857, the youngest of a family of thirteen children in an Anglican rectory at Cottesmore in Rutlandshire, England. She was a serious, sensitive child who was educated at home "indoors by thought-provoking books in many languages, outdoors by the whole countryside with its fields and trees and hedges and gardens."
When she was twenty-one she was received into the Catholic church and three years later joined the Society of the Sacred Heart. She was a great educator, wrote several books and trained novices in the Order.
Twelve years later she was asked to be in charge of the English-Irish part of the Society and in 1911 she became the Mother General. She set out on extensive travels by sea, visiting over one hundred communities, including the ones in New Zealand, in three years. She died just as the first World War was beginning.