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The Holy Cross Congregation is a religious congregation under the Catholic Church. It was founded in Switzerland in 1849 with its founding mission being the provision of education wherever this need exists. This meant providing education for poor young girls at a time when there was no state provision for education. The Holy Cross Congregation works in countries across the world in South America, Europe and the United Kingdom, Asia and Africa.
The Sisters arrived in South Africa as a missionary order in 1883. Their first school was established in Umtata, providing education for the disadvantaged. Their work extended further into the local community with them not only founding schools all over South Africa, but also establishing and building orphanages, hospitals and homes for the elderly where the need for these facilities existed. Many of the Sisters are also nurses and social workers who are closely involved in working in and with communities. The Sisters opened different schools in Cape Town as well as an orphanage and Teacher Training College (St. Augustine’s). Many of these are now classified as state schools on church property. The Teacher Training College had to close in 1974 due to the enforcement of the Group Areas Act and its orphanage moved into the Cape Flats.
In 1910 the Sisters decided to open a school in Maitland, starting their work in old farm buildings and developing the property over the years. The school offered boarding facilities and both primary and high school education up to 1974 when a new primary school was built in a nearby suburb. Thereafter the Maitland premises continued to function only as a high school for girls. The school has, during its years in Maitland, faced many battles to survive. During the apartheid era, government funding was withdrawn from independent/private schools and to ensure the school’s survival, the school was financed by the Sisters. Holy Cross High School was one of the first “open” schools in Cape Town, not only as regards to its learners, but also as regards to its staff. At the same time, the nuns were the first to welcome non-Whites to the school.
However, it was forced to close its boarding facilities in the 1980’s due to the decreasing numbers of Sisters. These rooms have subsequently been converted into classrooms as the school’s numbers increased. Additionally, the first few principals to be in the position of principal during the 1900s were: Sister Wilfrad, followed by Sister Rita and then Sister Margaret who became principal twice, both in 1986 and 1987 until 2009, whereby she passed away. Thus, for the first time in its history, a lay principal was appointed namely Mrs Erna Lehy. After the retirement of Mrs Lehy, Mr Michael Fouche took over and was the first male principal of Holy Cross High.
Therefore, this school is committed to upholding the values and ethos that the nuns envisioned when they started Holy Cross High, which includes education based on: Gospel values, the upliftment of communities (particularly women), upholding justice and the dignity of the person. Thus, this school has further accepted the challenge of providing education for refugees and immigrants from other African countries.
2016 January New Principal Mr Fouché takes over from Mrs Erna Lehy.