The Mercy charism is an integral part of Villa Maria College. It pervades all aspects of the life the College. The College aims to offer spiritual formation and pastoral care in the tradition of Catherine McAuley and the Sisters of Mercy.


At the heart of the College are the attributes of Mercy:

  • Education that is grounded in the Gospel
  • Respect for the dignity, worth and potential of every human being
  • Concern for the poor and the disadvantaged
  • Concern for justice

All students take part in Religious Education and the religious life of the College through prayer, Mass and community service.


Religious Education classes cover such topics as:

  • Discovering our identity
  • The Church’s story
  • Conscience/morality/values
  • Commitment and ministry


In addition, each year students participate in a Retreat in which they are encouraged to explore their relationship with themselves, others and with God.

Director of Religious Studies, Thomas Newton

Dear friends and families of the College,

It is with great pleasure that I have undertaken the role of Director of Religious Studies here at Villa Maria College. Hailing from Australia and then Hastings in Hawkes Bay, I grew up among the Australian bush and the New Zealand countryside. I came to Christchurch in 2000 where I studied History, English, and Art History, before pursuing teaching.

It was while studying at the University of Canterbury that I met my wife, Clare, and together we have two fantastic daughters, Miriam and Esther.

Prior to joining the Villa Maria College team, I worked at St Thomas of Canterbury College where I was privileged to work with great staff. I am also a member of the St Francis of Assisi Parish where I once served as a member of the Church Council in its former days as Our Lady of Fatima Parish.


“I am delighted to be working here at Villa Maria and I enjoy working with the students to not only deepen their Catholic faith and values, but also assist in ensuring that the next generation of world leaders are Villa Women with strong Mercy Values.” 


I look forward to meeting you all. Please feel free to come and introduce yourselves to me if you see me around the College.

God bless,

Thomas Newton

Campus Ministry at Villa: College Chaplain, Phoebe Bryant

Phoebe’s role as Spiritual and Liturgical Team Leader complements the formal Religious Studies and Special Character programmes at Villa Maria College. Phoebe’s focus is to support students in their personal faith journeys and to provide ways in which they can deepen their relationship with God and serve the Church. She works closely with the College’s Service Captains seeking practical ways to enrich students’ faith through promoting the works of Mercy through action, prayer and reflection. Phoebe is also involved in the running of Sacramental Programme and student retreats and Encounter Days.


“Our Church has such a richness and a beauty to offer our young women. I’m passionate about growing their understanding of our faith, and helping them to form a real relationship with Christ.” 


Phoebe has lived in Christchurch for the past 10 years, moving here from Australia. She spent several years travelling across Australia and New Zealand, working in schools and parishes developing youth ministry.

Mercy In Action

College students are encouraged, via their Ako Groups and Houses, to exercise their entrepreneurial skills in fundraising for Caritas and Mercy charities. They also participate in Mercy Day every second year which is a day when Villa Maria College students welcome young people with special needs from the community to spend the day with them at the College.

Mercy Action groups provide practical ways for individual students to engage further in community service.