Sisters of Mercy from Auckland established a mission in the village of Leulumoega in 1972, in response to an invitation from the Archbishop of Samoa to administer and staff a secondary school for girls.
Paul VI College is named after the first pope to visit Samoa during his trip to Australia and the Pacific in 1970.
The only rural Catholic secondary school on the main island of Upolu, Paul VI College offers a Catholic education to local families without the cost of having to travel to and from Apia. Since 1992, the college has been co-educational. While the college retains close ties to the Mercy charism its governance returned to the Diocese of Samoa in December 2014.
Located close to the college is St Joan of Arc Primary School and Pre-School. Administration was handed to the Sisters of Mercy in 1976 by the Missionary Sisters of the Society of Mary who ran the school for many years; it remains the only Catholic primary school in the western side of rural Upolu. Limited space led to the decision in 2004 to transfer Years 7 and 8 to Paul VI College.
In 2003, the Sisters of Mercy responded to a request from Catholic education authorities to administer and staff St Theresa’s Primary School and Pre-School in Fusi on the island of Savai’i. The school has developed close links with St Anne’s Primary School in Manurewa, which provides teaching resources and regular visits from its principal and staff to run professional development workshops for teachers.
Both Samoan and New Zealand Sisters of Mercy are involved in the Samoan mission, with a strong commitment to education. The school system in Samoa is still exam-oriented, and the sisters work hard to help students in a rural environment to gain national qualifications. They also encourage students to have confidence in themselves and to develop their gifts and abilities.
A growing sense of partnership between Mercy schools in Samoa and New Zealand has led to a sharing of resources and experience.