HistorySt David's Marist Old Boys' Association
The history of St David’s Marist Inanda is more than just the story of bricks and mortar through a period of time. St David’s is the heritage of a young French priest, Marcellin Champagnat, who founded a congregation in 1817 to teach poor children in country areas devastated by war and revolution.
St David’s is the heritage of his ideals: of humility, modesty and simplicity, of a desire to share and to educate spiritually, academically, culturally and in sport. It is this heritage that provides the fabric of St David’s history and makes it what it is today: a school that is more than an academic institution – it is a caring, learning environment.
From the ashes of the French Revolution rose an institution now founded in countries on every continent, flourishing on the legacy of faith left by Marcellin Champagnat: The Marist Schools.
The Marist Brothers opened their first school in Johannesburg in Koch Street, on 9 October 1889. The three Brothers, who had travelled under arduous conditions from Port Elizabeth, had only a school building and plenty of faith, when they began this first ‘boys only’ school. They had no applications for admission but simply opened their doors and waited for pupils to appear! The school flourished and soon established itself as the leading school in the Transvaal in the last years of the 19th century.
In 1926 Marist Brothers Observatory opened as the second Marist School in the Transvaal.
In the late 1930’s both schools were full to the point of bursting and the Brothers were invited by Bishop David O’Leary to open a new school. They acquired a beautiful 21-acre property, outside the municipal boundaries of Johannesburg, in the Inanda peri-urban local authority area. St David’s opened in 1941 and by 1948 had its first Matric class.
By 1953 the school consisted of 475 pupils, 200 of them being boarders. The boys were now participating competitively in athletics, swimming, tennis, rugby, soccer and cricket. In 1953, Ian Kerley was the first St. David’s recipient of the coveted Provincial Blazer. The year 1955 was an exciting one for the Marist Brothers; Marcellin was beatified on the 29th May. The boys from Inanda attended a Pontifical High Mass in the City Hall, in celebration of this special event. In 14 years St. David’s had gone from being a dream to becoming a flourishing and successful school housed on one of the prime sites in South Africa.
The Brothers managed to acquire the adjoining 45 acres of land in 1963, thus making the school the largest Marist establishment in South Africa. On the property is the house “Maryknoll”, the original Sandton farmhouse. The house is now the residence of the College Chief Executive.
By 1982 the number of Brothers in education had dropped. The needs of township and rural schools were becoming critical and so the decision was taken to hand over the well-established schools to the laity. The Brothers moved into areas where they believed they could alleviate some of the pain and frustration.
The school is privileged to have a College Chaplain, in the person of Father Teboho Matseke. All boys attend Mass once a week and holy days are celebrated as a Family. Father Teboho holds special services such as Ash Wednesday Mass and distribution of Ashes, Stations of the Cross every weekday morning during Lent, confession for the boys, as well as beginning and ending each term with a Mass for the entire school. The spiritual dimension at St. David’s is a high priority amongst pupils and staff and Father Teboho is an integral part of the school.
St. David’s has gone from strength to strength. The whole school presently numbers close to 1400 pupils; both the Prep and College are full to capacity.
St. David’s has regular contact with the Marist Brothers, despite their Headquarters being moved to Malawi. They are still actively involved in the governance and oversight of the school. The Province has now become Southern Africa, and no longer just South Africa. It is a privilege to belong to such a rare institution as the Marist family.