It was on Tuesday January 29, 1996 that St. John the Baptist Catholic school was born. The Society`s priory in the Johannesburg had already existed since 1986, at first in Randburg, then from 1992 in Roodepoort, where the town school had been purchased and converted into a church and priory. However, there were still several classrooms available. Some of the families had dreamt of a school. In fact it happened very rapidly, and was put together by Father Sebastian Wall in the period of one week, starting with one trained teacher and nine students, from first to fifth grade. The Prior, Father Gerspacher, tells of how he came back from two weeks in Cape Town to find out that his quiet priory had been transformed into a busy school, but was delighted with it. Thus was accomplished the mission contained in the Society`s statutes: “Schools, truly free and unfettered, able to bestow on youth a thoroughly Christian education, shall be fostered and, if need be, founded by the members of the Society. From these will come vocations and Christian homes” (Statutes III, 4).

 

  The school continued over the years, but through many vicissitudes. Many of the original families lived a long distance from the school, and could only get to school through lift clubs organized amongst the parents.  Furthermore, there were the usual difficulties that are a part and parcel of the foundation of all the Society`s schools. Parents of a more liberal tendency object to certain aspects of school discipline, and taking offense at some point withdraw their children from the school. Then there was the particularly South African problem of the emigration of white families out of South Africa, due to the falling economic standards, and lack of future for their children. These children all found that their education at St. John Baptist was at a high level and prepared them well to continue in the Society`s schools in England and Australia. Consequently, the enrolment did not increase greatly with the succession of principals, Father Suresh following Father Wall, and then Father Esposito, and Father Thomas taking over from him. In October 2010, with the visit of the relics of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, there were still only nineteen children. But the miracle is that the school did continue.

 

 

  Over the years from 2007 until 2013, the school went through an unplanned but gradual metamorphosis to become much more of a missionary school. In fact, the first black children entered the school in 2007, and their number has increased as the number of white children has diminished, so that in 2013, when Father MacDonald was the Principal, out of 35 enrolled children in grades Kindergarten – 7, there remained only one family of European origin, a handful of children who are colored, and all the rest were black. It has become a missionary school since the African children, although frequently Catholic by tradition or attraction, on arriving at the school were in great part uninstructed in the Faith, and had not even received the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion. In school, they learn to love their Faith and to receive the sacraments with the correct preparation, at the same time as they receive an excellent education. Although the official school Mass is only once a week, many in fact choose to arrive early at school in order to assist at daily Mass. The challenge has been to maintain high academic levels, and yet at the same time to give an education to children whose mother tongue is frequently not English. The school is determined not to compromise on this, nor to allow the low level of education in South African government schools to undermine its own demands on its students.

 

 

  The enrolment of students in January 2014 was 45 students. In January 2014, a boy's high school opened, starting with eighth grade; thereafter, a new grade is added each year till grade 12. Students prepare for Cambridge and GED examinations, which they sit in grade 12.

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