The Birth of St. Augustine’s College
The history of St. Augustine’s College, Cape Coast began from the introduction of Catholicism in the country.It should be noted that the Portuguese who first landed at Shama near Sekondi in 1482 were Catholics.
In 1893, Rev. Fr. Michon of the Elmina Mission purchased a parcel of land at Amissano, near Elmina to be put under cultivation to support the personnel at the Elmina Mission.
In 1909, Bishop Hummel started a ‘little seminary’ which was made up of three students, entrusted to an ex-standard VIII boy as the overseer of the parcel of land.
In December 1928, the then Vicar-Apostolic of the Gold Coast, Monsignor Hummel, after discussions with the colonial Government, paid a visit to the Amissano farm and chose the site for a future college.
Rev. Fr, John Van Heeswijk, the Superior of the Elmina Mission, was put in charge of the project.
After some initial difficulties, the colonial government supported the mission with a grant of Six thousand Euros on the approval of the Legislative Council in 1929, and the actual construction work began in earnest in February 1929.
By the end of the year, the staff house and other blocks were ready for use.
The January 1930 edition of the The Catholic Voice carried the following account of the official opening of the College:
“Catholics abroad will be immensely delighted to learn that the Teachers Training College at Amissano, which will be ready to receive students during the month of February, has been officially opened by His Excellency the Governor, on January the 15th, 1930”.
The new institution was to serve as both a training college and a seminary.
Rev. Fr. M. B. Kelly was put in charge of the Training College and Rev. Fr. E. Robbens was made the Superior of the Seminary.
This state of affairs could not be allowed to remain indefinitely, so in January 1934, the seminary and the Training College were completely separated.
Transfer of the College to Cape Coast
Under the leadership of Monsignor W.T. Porter, the then Bishop of the Cape Coast Vicariate, the need for a Catholic Secondary School was discussed.
At a historic meeting held at Cape Coast on 6th August 1933, it was resolved that:
The institution to be built must be a Catholic one, built with Catholic funds for Catholic children
It must be built in a largely Catholic centre
It must be of easy access
Electricity, good water supply and good roads must be available
The faithful of the area chosen must be able to a plot of land free of charge
Further, the attention of the meeting was drawn to the stipulations of both the Central Health Board and Education Department as regards the sitting of an educational institution:
It should be near a main road
It should be on a hill not too steep
It should have facilities for agriculture
It should have enough space for playground and sport
It should be easily accessible to day students
It should be in an area where the cost of living is cheap
Out of the lots of options, Cape coast was found to be the most suitable site to host the first Catholic Secondary School.
There was already in place, a sum of ten thousand Euros, which represented contributions raised from abroad by Bishop Hauger.
To this end, the faithful of the Vicariate, under Monsignor Porter, contributed a further two thousand Euros.
The College admirably overlooks the Atlantic Ocean about 1.8km from Cape Coast Town Hall and about 2.3km from the University of Cape Coast West Gate along the Cape Coast-Elmina road.
On 15th January 1935, Bishop W.T Porter was assisted by the Bishops of Keta, Kumasi and Navrongo to bless the foundation stone at the present site in Cape Coast.
At the end of 1935, the Training College was transferred to the new school, and Rev Fr. Maurice B. Kelly, the principal of the training college at Amissanpo became the first Headmaster of St. Augustine’s College.
When the founding fathers were deciding on a Patron Saint to name the College after, they unanimously and unreservedly chose Aurelius Augustinus aka St. Augustine of Hippo whose life spanned from November 13, 354 to August 28. 430.
In choosing Augustine of Hippo as the Patron Saint, the founding fathers of this institution cherished the hope that the laudable qualities of St. Augustine, as well as his exemplary life, would serve to illumine, instruct, inform, touch and mold the lives of all children who would receive their education in the College.
The College is popularly known as “AUGUSCO” by its students, past students and admirers alike.
Adapted from the school’s 91st-anniversary brochure