History of the College

Cardijn College has been at the heart of Catholic education in the south for more than 30 years.

The College was established in 1984 as a joint project between the South Australian Commission for Catholic Schools and the Catholic parishes of Noarlunga Downs, Willunga and Morphett Vale. Its first Principal, Brother Walter Smith, was appointed in 1983 to lead the College and oversee the building development.

Six stages were planned. Stage 1 consisted of the Library Resource Centre, two classrooms and an Art-Technology Centre. Our student enrolment began with just 102 students.

In 1985 the Romero building was developed which consisted of six classrooms, Home Economics Centre, drama space and change rooms for Physical Education. This was followed by the development of the Science block which houses four Science laboratories and a much needed canteen area.

In 1987 the Chisholm/MacKillop building was completed and the Lombard and Administration building was completed in 1988. By now, our student community had grown to 900 students.

While these first five years of the College history were marked with building development, it also included the establishment of its outstanding academic programs and pastoral care. Cardijn had an innovative vision for curriculum delivery with a vertical timetable which enabled students to be accelerated in their learning.

Brother Smith completed his tenure as Principal in 1988 in order to pursue missionary work in Pakistan.

Mr Jeff Croser was appointed Principal in 1989, after being Deputy Principal since the first day of the College.

The next five years of the College history included the consolidation of its academic programs & pastoral care programs. Mr Croser developed a vertical House system for pastoral care which today remains as a strong feature of the school.

The SACE was introduced in 1992 and the school moved from strength to strength in all areas of academic pursuit and co-curricular activity. Mr Croser completed his tenure at Cardijn at the end of 1993, following his appointment as Principal of Cabra College.

Mr Viano Jaksa was appointed as Principal in 1994. He developed a bold plan to make Cardijn an Information Technology focussed school. During this time Cardijn became a regional focus school for IT, providing a range of services to regional Catholic school communities including IT support and internet service access. Mr Jaksa also began a review of the College, which culminated in the development of a Futures Plan in 1997. Mr Jaksa completed his tenure at Cardijn in 1999 following his appointment as a consultant at the Catholic Education Office.

Brother John Pill, Principal of St Michael’s College, was seconded as Principal from 1999-2000. Brother Pill introduced a range of changes to the organisational structure of the school. Subject coordinators were reorganised into a team of Learning Area coordinators. The five House leaders were designated as student development coordinators.

Mr Michael Dahl, former Principal of St John’s College, Whyalla, was appointed Principal of Cardijn in 2000. Mr Dahl's focus was in the area of improving the College infrastructure. He began with a large-scale plan of improvements and much needed maintenance. In addition, he proceeded with the development of the College Gymnasium, redevelopment of the Administration area and the College entrance and roundabout. These developments were completed in 2003. Mr Dahl also began a review of College administrative procedures and marketing strategy. Mr Dahl completed his tenure at Cardijn College in 2004 following his appointment as Principal Consultant at the Catholic Education Office.

Dr Paul Rijken was appointed Principal of Cardijn College in 2005. He was the Deputy Principal of St Aloysius College, Adelaide. He is a founding teacher of Cardijn College and began his teaching duties as the Physical Education Coordinator on the very first day in 1984. Dr Rijken taught at Cardijn College for 13 years before accepting his appointment at St Aloysius College, then returning to Cardijn in the role of Principal in 2005. Dr Rijken retired at the end of Term 2, 2022.

Mr Steve Byrne commenced the role of the 7th principal of Cardijn College at the beginning of 2023.

Today the College is a vibrant community across three campuses with a total enrolment 2000 students enrolled and over 300 staff members.