Feet on the Ground and Heads in Heaven

Mount St Mary A portrait
The front cover of Michael Beattie SJ's book

Michael Beattie SJ has finished writing his book on the history of Mount St Mary's College.  Due to be published in October,  it marks the 175th anniversary of the college’s founding by Fr Randal Lythgoe SJ.  Given the title, ‘A Portrait of Our College,’ it covers both ‘The Mount’ and Barlborough Hall. Fr Michael is an old boy of the school, an 'Old Mountaineer'  but his research in writing the book was more than just a trip down memory lane.  ‘ It resurrected many good and bad memories,’ he admitted candidly, ‘Including some outstanding Jesuits, men like John Kavanagh and Tom Smalley stand out.’

Reflecting how the college has changed down the years, and how less of the student body were Catholics, Fr Michael still insisted that the schools work, based on Jesuit values had a significant impact on modern life.  ‘I am proud of the fact that we are still producing students, now men and women,  who have their feet on the ground and heads in heaven.’ This 'Demisemiseptcentennial' academic year was a chance for the wider community to take a step back and appreciate that.

175 years forming minds and hearts in the Jesuit tradition is a notable achievement, although Jesuits were teaching clandestinely in Derbyshire long before that, notably nearby in Stanley Grange, until the school was discovered and dispersed by the authorities.   Michael’s book traces the school's roots back to the 16th Century Jesuit mission in the area.  ‘Being named after the Mother of God came from the original Mission to the area which was dedicated to from the immaculate conception.  As this was a mouthful the school became St Marys, and then because we were located on a hill. ‘Mount St Marys.’’