Our History

Good Shepherd College – Te Hepara Pai brings together the resources and traditions of two theological colleges in New Zealand, Holy Cross College, Mosgiel and Mount St Mary’s College, Greenmeadows/Auckland.

Holy Cross College was established in 1900 at Mosgiel in the Diocese of Dunedin under the direction of Bishop Verdon, as the national seminary for the formation of diocesan priests. Educated in Rome, Bishop Verdon brought to New Zealand a passion for the Catholic Church and education. He had headed seminaries in Ireland and Sydney, with an intervening period as vice-rector of the Irish College in Rome, and believed a facility in New Zealand for the training of diocesan priests to be essential.

The College was opened on the Feast of the Holy Cross, May 3rd, 1900. For ninety-eight years the formation of diocesan priests was undertaken at Mosgiel. During this time, Holy Cross was staffed by personnel not only from New Zealand, but also from other parts of the world. Links were created also with the University of Otago, and Knox Theological Hall in Dunedin.

New Zealand’s first Catholic Bishop, Jean Baptiste François Pompallier, worked energetically to train priests locally for his new mission. In April 1850 he returned from a trip to Europe with nine seminarians and established a seminary in Auckland to complete their formation. This seminary – St Mary’s College – had his vicar general, Fr Louis Rozet, as its first rector. It survived for nineteen years, until Bishop Pompallier retired in 1869. It educated at least twenty-four priests and many catechists who proved to be the backbone of the Maori church during the remaining decades of the 19th century.

In 1889 the New Zealand Province of the Society of Mary was canonically established, and the following year, the first faculty of Mount St. Mary’s, a Novitiate-Scholasticate for the formation of religious priests for the Society, was formed by the Marists at Meeanee in Hawkes Bay. This site was found to be vulnerable to flooding, so in 1911 the Scholasticate was shifted to Greenmeadows, near Napier.

Mount St. Mary’s, as the Scholasticate was called, remained on this site until the beginning of the 1992 academic year, when, after 100 years in Hawkes Bay, the College was transferred to Auckland and became a member of the Auckland Consortium for Theological Education.

After considerable discussion, the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference decided to enter into an agreement with the Society of Mary to establish a partnership for the theological education of candidates for the priesthood in New Zealand. This venture necessitated a move at the beginning of 1998 to Auckland by Holy Cross College. The agreement to establish the partnership also involved the closure of Mount St Mary’s College at the end of 2000 and the closure of its association with the Auckland Consortium for Theological Education.

The New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference and the Society of Mary established a charitable trust to own and govern the new college, Good Shepherd College – Te Hepara Pai, and the trust decided to enter into a new association with the Catholic Institute of Sydney, to provide theological education for the students of the new college.

Even though it has a special focus on the theological education of candidates for priesthood, Good Shepherd College is open to any student who wishes to study theology in the Roman Catholic tradition.

It is separate from, but has a special relationship with the seminaries of the joint venture partners. Holy Cross Seminary and the Marist Seminary continue to offer separate priestly formation programmes for their respective seminarians that reflect the particular spirit of each institution.