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Goodbye to St Teresa's after 104 years

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Gratitude was the overwhelming feeling at the farewell Mass for St Teresa’s School Brighton as the community reflected on 104 years of Catholic education established by the Sisters of Mercy from Broken Hill.

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Current and former families, students and staff joined several Sisters of Mercy at the Mass which was celebrated by Mgr Ian Dempsey and concelebrated by Administrator Delegate Fr Philip Marshall, Mgr Rob Egar, Mgr Bob Rice, Fr Sean McGearty and Fr Peter Sheedy.

The school’s closure follows the establishment of McAuley Community School, a Catholic school in the Mercy tradition, at nearby Hove.

The state-of-the-art R-6 school and Alive Early Learning Centre has been built on the site of the former Marymount College following its amalgamation with Sacred Heart College.

Delivering the reflection at the St Teresa’s School farewell Mass, Sr Marie Ralph RSM remembered “with gratitude” the Sisters and all staff members of St Teresa’s over the years.

She said the Sisters cherished to this day the “beautiful relationship” between the Sisters of Mercy of Broken Hill and the people of Brighton.

The Sisters of Mercy from Wilcannia-Forbes Diocese moved into their convent in Old Beach Road on October 15, the feast of St Teresa of Avila, and named the convent and school after her. At time there was no parish of Brighton or church, and the convent chapel became the first Mass centre. The school was opened the following year, serving the semi-rural suburb which comprised dairy farms, orchards and vineyards.

As Brighton developed into a popular beachside residential area, the school moved from a small detached cottage in the convent grounds to a converted conservatory, which also served as a church for many years. The first classroom was built in 1950 and the next in 1961. After modifications in 1977 and 1979, a major building project was undertaken in 2005. This year the school had 287 students enrolled in Reception to Year 6 classes.

The Sisters of Mercy administered and staffed the school until 1976, when the first lay principal, Kevin Clancy, was appointed.

Sr Marie paid tribute to the leaders of the school community, in particular the first principal, Mother Mary Gallagher, and the last Religious principal, Sr Mary Barnett, as well as the current principal Peter Mercer.

She thanked the lay principals for ensuring the Mercy spirit remained “alive and well” at St Teresa’s and said she was confident this would continue at the new school named after the founder of the Mercy Sisters, Catherine McAuley.

“The new school will have strong leadership and the Mercy spirit will flourish,” she said.

“Loving kindness will be a special feature.”

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