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Moving farewell for Sister Jill


The end of the 2019 school year also saw the end of an era at St Dominic’s Priory College as Sr Jill Havey OP AM retired as principal after almost 50 years.

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At the emotion-charged End of Year Mass, the school farewelled not only the graduating Year 12 class but also paid tribute to Sr Jill for her contribution to St Dominic’s, Catholic Education SA and education in general.

While a more formal farewell is planned for early this year, acting principal Muriel Noujaim took the opportunity to acknowledge the “educational genius” of Sr Jill.

“Her vast knowledge and experience spans more than 50 years,” Ms Noujaim told the gathering.

“She has been a tremendous pioneer for girls’ education and a real asset to St Dominic’s Priory College. She has contributed in such an integral way to the college’s continued success, forming a strong part of the college’s rich, historical fabric.”

Ms Noujaim outlined how Sr Jill understood the benefits girls gain from “teamwork, comradery, building friendships and a sense of belonging”. Her passion for liturgical singing not only reflected her love of music but her deep faith which she “gently nurtures” in students, she said.

Leading up to her retirement, Premier Steven Marshall also acknowledged the “significant impact” Sr Jill had on St Dominic’s.

“Among your many career achievements you were instrumental in introducing the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program at St Dominic’s, reflecting a desire to embrace a global perspective at the college,” he wrote in a letter to Sr Jill.

“You also warmly welcomed Vietnamese and other refugee students and their families to St Dominic’s, providing a nurturing environment for new arrivals to South Australia and enriching the schools’ proud multicultural community.”

Mr Marshall said Sr Jill’s “unshakable belief” in the potential of every student had empowered graduates “to pursue their dreams with confidence and to continue making a positive contribution to the South Australian community”.

Sr Jill, who studied at St Dominic’s, started as a graduate teacher there in 1961 and was appointed principal in 1971. In 1998 she received a Member of the Order of Australia for service to education.

She was a driving force behind developing the college’s Grand Building Master Plan and while it took several years to obtain planning approval, Sr Jill gained much satisfaction in seeing the completion of Stage 1 in her final year as principal. Named in her honour, the Sr Jillian Havey Centre for Year 12 students was officially opened in March 2019.

In a symbolic tribute, at the End of Year Mass Sr Jill was presented with 50 red roses to represent each year of her service as Principal. Throughout those years she had presented a rose to each Year 12 student as they graduated.

In her final address as Principal, Sr Jill, who is slowly recovering from health issues, said she valued the role she had been given at St Dominic’s.

“To God I say, thanks for giving me this job. It was a risky idea but one which has been precious to me.”


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