Our Traditions

Our Traditions

Help us to build on the best traditions we have inherited

Our school has its foundations in two schools built on our current site in 1961. St Thomas Aquinas Grammar for boys and St John Bosco served the families of north Leeds and in 1978 they merged and the school was renamed in honour of Cardinal Heenan.

John Carmel Heenan was born on 26 January 1905. He studied at St Ignatius College, Stamford Hill and moved to Ushaw Seminary near Durham at the age of 17. He moved to the Venerable English College in Rome two years later. He became a priest (ordained) in 1930 and was sent to St Ethelburga’s in Barking, Essex.

In 1947 he became the head of the Catholic Missionary Society. John Carmel Heenan was named Bishop of Leeds in 1951.

In 1957, he moved to Liverpool as Archbishop. An archbishop has authority over several dioceses. There is another school named after him in Liverpool. He launched a competition to build a new Catholic cathedral. The result was the consecration of the renowned Metropolitan Cathedral in 1967. However, by that time Archbishop Heenan had moved in 1963 to the Archdiocese of Westminster and in 1965 was created Cardinal.

Cardinal Heenan attended the Second Vatican Council from 1962 – 1965. He was cautious yet determined about implementing its decisions in his diocese. He worked for greater ecumenism (when different faith groups work together) through his warm friendship with the Chief Rabbi and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

In 1968 he invited Michael Ramsey, Archbishop of Canterbury to Westminster Cathedral for a ground-breaking visit.

He died on 7 November 1975, aged 70, having suffered with ill-health for the previous decade or so. At his own wish he was buried in the nave of Westminster Cathedral, close to the people he had served, so that he might be assured of their prayers.

His biretta (special hat worn by clergy) can be seen in the entrance to our school.

St Thomas Aquinas

St Thomas Aquinas was a Catholic priest, philosopher and theologian who lived from c.1225-1274. He is considered to be one of the greatest theologians in the Church’s history. His greatest work, Summa Theologica influenced, and still influences, the Catholic Church today. St Thomas received a calling from God to join a religious order. This order or group was called the Dominicans as they were inspired by the life and work of St Dominic. St Thomas liked to preach to others about God, especially how God had made all things and therefore humans were made Imago Dei. St Thomas’ motto was veritas which means truth. He believed that the most important truths were that God made us and God loved us.

St John Bosco

St John Bosco is also known as Don Bosco which means Father Bosco. Born in 1815 in northern Italy, at the age of 9, Don Bosco had a dream which led him to work with other young people and teach them about faith. As a priest he worked with children living in poverty and taught them about God with kindness and understanding eventually establishing his Oratory, a school. Whilst at the Oratory he instilled in the students a sense of duty and doing what was right. For Don Bosco, doing your duty meant regularly performing sacraments and working hard as well as enjoying life.

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