Kostka Hall Social History Project

The Kostka Hall experience is unique to those who walked through its gates every day. Thousands of members of the Kostka Hall community will possess wonderful personal memories of their time at "Xavier by the Sea" and will no doubt experience a sense of loss at the closure of the Campus at the end of 2021.

We do not want to lose your memories. Whilst many will be unique to the individual students and families who went there, collectively they make a wonderful story. We would like to publish a selection to celebrate Kostka Hall's history as well as keep them for future generations. 

If you are interested in contributing to the social history of Kostka Hall or have any questions, please email Alumni Coordinator & Executive Officer of the Old Xaverians Davina Calhaem at davina.m.calhaem@xavier.vic.edu.au. Should you wish to share memorabilia, please contact the Xavier College Archivist Catherine Hall at catherine.hall@xavier.vic.edu.au.

We have recently updated XavShop with Kostka Hall student-designed commemorative memorabilia.

Peter Riordan OX 1955 and longest-serving teacher in Kostka's history 1960-1996.

Peter Riordan's Early Childhood Memories of Kostka Hall

While being a teacher with the Victorian Education Department, a position was advertised at Kostka Hall.

My early childhood memories came back as I applied for the position. Miss O'Kelly had retired.  She taught me and I owe her a great debt. So began my thirty-six years with the staff at "Xavier by the sea."

Starting school towards the end of World War Two, many things were rationed, such as food and petrol. Kostka had an air-raid shelter. However, despite the fears of wartime, a great community spirit prevailed amongst the Jesuits, teachers, parents and students,

As students we played in the shade of tall cypress and gum trees. There was a remnant of coastal tea-tree called "The Bush" and students delighted in playing there. A squirrel from Professor McCoy's days at Meritima frolicked in the ground. Swimming at the Brighton Beach Baths was always a welcome relief from the summer heat.

Mass, Benediction, the Rosary and Jesuit Spirituality permeated the Kostka Community. A polio epidemic produced fervent prayer among all.

At the present time, the words written by Saunt Teresa of Avila spring to mind: - 

"Let nothing trouble thee,

Let nothing affright thee,

All things pass away."


Peter Riordan (OX 1955)



Fr Chris Gleeson SJ talks to Ted Richards (OX 2000), Jobe Watson (OX 2002) and Luke Ball (OX 2002) about their time at Kostka Hall


 Fr Chris Gleeson SJ talks with Major Simon Moore-Wilton DSM (OX 1989)

20211007 Fr Chris chats w Simon Moore-Wilton DSM full ed from Xavier College on Vimeo.


Fr Chris Gleeson SJ talks with Paul Connors (OX 1986)


Fr Chris Gleeson SJ talks with Christopher (OX 1989), Richard (OX 1990) and Matthew Green (OX 2000)


Kostka Hall by the Decades: 1937 - 1965

Kostka Hall, named in honour of St Stanislaus Kostka, opened in 1937 when the Archbishop of Melbourne Dr Daniel Mannix proposed another Jesuit school in the south-eastern suburbs to Xavier College Rector Fr William Hackett SJ. This proved a tricky year to begin operations, with the widespread closure of schools and bans on children using public transport due to a polio outbreak. Many students began their schooling late in November that year as a result.

Late last year, we were fortunate enough to sit down with a number of Kostka Hall's earliest members Harry Green (OX 1940) Dermott McCarthy (OX 1946), Dick Moore (OX 1947) and Brian McCarthy (OX 1947). Watch below as Harry Green discusses his time in the opening years of Kostka Hall or read more about their collective recollections here.

Over time, a growing community necessitated the expansion and development of the Kostka Hall grounds. In 1959, a major building project began, which saw the construction of several classrooms, the Tuckshop, administrative buildings and the beginnings of a standalone chapel. Science rooms were added in 1969, and in the 1970s the Jesuits bought various adjoining properties to expand the campus.

The increased capacity for enrolments welcomed students from many different backgrounds who would go on to excel in various fields beyond school life. Earlier this year, we welcomed two distinguished alumni Ken Roche (OX 1960) and Jack Bowen (OX 1962) back to chat with Fr Chris Gleeson SJ (OX 1961) about their younger years and school and life beyond. You can watch below as Fr Gleeson chats with Ken and Jack, or read more.

Community Recollections

Within Kostka Hall's tight-knit community, a number of alumni, past staff and families have documented their experiences over the years. Their valuable contributions to the social history project can be read throughout this page.

John Polak (OX 1955)

Rod Snee (OX 1964) 

1965 - 1999

1967 saw the completion of the Kostka Hall Memorial Chapel. Designed by Alan Robertson, the Chapel features stained glass windows by Alan Sumner. It was erected as a memorial to Old Xaverians that made the ultimate sacrifice in all wars.

In 1996 a multi-purpose hall was completed with a new arts centre opened in 1998. 

Also during this period, Justin (Jock) Serong (OX 1988) attended Kostka Hall from 1980 to 1984 and the Senior Campus from 1985 to 1988. He later attended Melbourne University, graduating with an LLB (Hons) in 1995. He has since worked as a barrister and with the Martu people of WA’s Western Desert, as well as representing asylum seekers in the Federal Court. Jock changed career to become a full time writer in 2013. His first novel, Quota, won the 2015 Ned Kelly Award for Best First Crime Novel. His most recent novel, The Rules of Backyard Cricket, was shortlisted for the 2017 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award.

Jock notes that he ‘owes a great deal of my love of English - reading it and writing it - to the wonderful Mrs. Margaret Howse, who taught me at Kostka. I'm very grateful to her as I'm sure many other people are.’

Community Recollections

Jim Downey (OX 1970)

Rosemary Sheehan & Gavan Martyn, parents of Timothy (OX 1996) and Nicholas Martyn (OX 2002)

1999 - 2021

Following Burke Hall in 2002, the Kostka Hall Campus expanded its educational program by opening Early Years centres to provide the scope for a Jesuit education from the earliest ages. For the first time in the College’s history, girls were admitted to the Early Years, breaking the long-standing tradition of Xavier being a boys-only school.

During this time, Raphael Wong (OX 2007) attended Kostka Hall from 2002 to 2003 and the Senior Campus from 2004 to 2007.  He went on to complete a Bachelor of Music under Full Merit Scholarship in 2010 at the University of Melbourne and has been performing with the Opera Australia Chorus and Victorian Opera Chorus since 2011.  Raphael continues to extend his vocal career, competing as a finalist in the 2016 Herald Sun Aria competition. Watch below as he talks with Fr Chris Gleeson SJ, or read more in news.

Community Recollections

Jane Kanizay, mother of Sam (OX 2019) and Joe (Year 10)

To date, thousands of students have passed through the gates of Kostka Hall on their educational journey, becoming ‘Men and Women for Others’ in the Jesuit tradition.

Generations Breakfast

This year, we celebrated Kostka Hall at the Old Xaverians' Generations Breakfast 2021. All Old Xaverians who had/have children and/or grandchildren that have or are currently attending the Senior Campus, Burke Hall or Kostka Hall were invited to attend an enjoyable breakfast in The Great Hall in celebration of the many generations of families at Xavier.

As early as 1956, the Callinan family have been a part of the Kostka Hall community. Chris, Pete, Paddy and cousin Sam Noonan spoke about their time there.

House Cross Country
House Cross Country
Xavier at The Long Walk
Xavier at The Long Walk
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