Marist College Canberra headmaster Richard Sidorko met with students on Friday to explain the background to next month's visit to the ACT by the sexual abuse royal commission.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is to conduct a public hearing on June 10 into the response of the Marist Brothers to allegations of child sexual abuse in schools in the ACT, NSW and Queensland.
A commission spokeswoman said the hearing would focus on abuses committed by Brother John Chute (aka Brother Kosta) and former Brother ZA.
Chute was jailed for two years plus another year of weekend detention in June 2008 after being found guilty of molesting six boys at the college in the 1980s.
Mr Sidorko said there had been an almost 100 per cent turnover in the college student body since that time and most of the boys had no knowledge of the events that had sparked the inquiry. Only 50 per cent of the current staff at the college were there in 2008.
"This has made it necessary to explain the history of what happened [in the 1980s and in 2008] to people who have no direct knowledge of the events even though they are now a part of the college community," he said.
"I cannot say enough how we regret the actions of a small minority in the past and how sorry we are for what happened. This is a deep shame for us as a school community."
Catholic Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn Christopher Prowse said: "We welcome that the royal commission's next public hearing is to be held here.
"The Catholic Church has fully co-operated with the inquiry from the beginning and our hearts and prayers go out to the victims of sexual abuse."
Archbishop Prowse said truth and healing were the highest priorities and that the royal commission had been "very helpful in making the Catholic Church face up to sad and criminal acts".
These acts had damaged the church as well as individuals, he said.
"I hope the end result will be a purified church with transparent processes on how it deals with events such as these," he said. "I am totally committed to that."
Jason Parkinson, the Canberra lawyer who represented many of the victims of Marist abuse in Canberra, said the Catholic Church had improved the way it handled sexual abuse cases.
"But that's only because they were dragged kicking and screaming through the courts," he said.
He said the Canberra cases had played a pivotal role.
"They exposed how the Catholic Church acted in private and people did not like what they saw," he said. "This led to the groundswell of disgust that contributed to the decision to establish the commission."
He said that given the commission was only mandated until December it was important the government clarify its future urgently.
"There will still be a lot of work for the commission to do after December, I believe it should be extended," he said.
A commission spokeswoman said an interim report would go to the government in June.
More than 12,000 people have contacted the commission since it was established just over a year ago.
Mr Sidorko said there had been many changes and reforms at the college since the abuses were brought to light.
"[I believe] people are now generally very happy with the quality of care provided [to] the students at Marist," he said. "That does not mean that I am not aware that there are still a lot of people who are very angry with us.
"As hard as this [the negative attention] is going to be be, and as hard as reliving those events is going to be, this is an opportunity to address the sins of the past, to address what happened and to move forward. It is not only important that the right thing is done, the right thing needs to be seen to be done."