History & Tradition


College History

Xavier College was born out of a long held dream of parishioners from Gawler and neighbouring Catholic parishes to have a regional Catholic secondary school.

It first began to take shape in 1990 and whilst approval was first given in 1992, it was not until late 1994 that Father Dennis Handley was appointed as the inaugural Principal, with the task of having a school ready to commence for the beginning of the 1995 school year.

Fr Handley SDB (Salesians of Don Bosco) not only brought with him contemporary educational experience and the rich Salesian charism, but also carried with him the single minded determination to turn ideas into buildings, classrooms, courtyards, playgrounds and ovals. With 83 Year 8 students, the College commenced at Gawler Belt in February 1995 with five relocatable classrooms, a science laboratory, a temporary information centre and the first stage of an administration building. The expansion since that time has been remarkable. 

The College is entering a new phase with the addition of campuses at Evanston and Two Wells. The Gawler Belt Campus caters for students in Years 7 to 12, Evanston for students in Reception to Year 6, and Two Wells Campus for students in Reception to Year 9. Two Wells Campus will progressively grow to cater for all year levels.


Saint John Bosco

College Patron

We are a Catholic school in the Salesian Tradition. Our patron of Xavier College is St John Bosco (1815-1888), founder of the Salesian Order.

St John Bosco, or Don (Italian for Father) Bosco as he is more affectionately known, gave his life to working with the abused and neglected young boys and men of Turin and surrounding townships at the height of religious, political and industrial unrest in 19th Century Italy.

St John Bosco’s educational and social welfare endeavours were based on reason, religion and loving kindness and influenced by the life and example of St Francis de Sales.

At a time when education and society was strictly authoritarian and repressive, St John Bosco created a model of educational practice that was based on preventing the young from making mistakes or placing themselves in harms way as opposed to one that abused or punished severely when a young person had made a poor decision. This was achieved by developing a strong personal relationship and understanding of the life situation of each student and being prepared to give of yourself so that the student knows that you are there to support and pastorally love them.

By the time of St John Bosco’s death, there were 773 Salesians in Europe and South America. Today there are over 17,000 Salesian priests and brothers, 18,000 sisters and tens of thousands of lay people working in every continent continuing the spirit and mission of St John Bosco amongst the young.

St John Bosco was canonized in 1934 by Pope Pius XI and declared Father and Teacher of Youth by Pope John Paul II in 1989.

Salesian Tradition

At the heart of the Salesian approach is a gentle strength that respects the dignity of each person, an approach pioneered by
St Francis de Sales from whom the Salesians take their name. Don Bosco (founder of the Salesian Order) took that Salesian spirituality and used it to develop a healthy way of working with the young.

"Young people not only need to be loved. They need to feel that they are loved."
- St John Bosco

For Don Bosco, helping young people to grow was about providing experiences that engaged the heart. When a young person experiences loving kindness, hearts are opened, confidence grows, faults are corrected and gifts blossom.

This holistic, heart-centred approach is based on a reasonable, respectful and reverent way of working with the young.

Should you wish to find out more about our Salesian ethos please download the Salesian Charter.