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Remember the days of the old schoolyard


If anyone had reason to celebrate Cabra Dominican College’s 135th anniversary earlier this month, it was Marie Meaney (nee Fetherstonhaugh).

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Marie, believed to be the oldest old scholar in attendance at the college’s garden party reunion, was a boarder from Appila in the mid North from 1948 to 1951.

Her mother also attended Cabra in the 1920s and her four daughters were boarders in the 1970s and 80s.

Marie recalled sleeping outside on the porch at the boarding school and being woken by the sound of pigeons.

“Even now when I hear pigeons I always think of Cabra,” she said.

Marie also remembered the uniform changing from navy blue to the now iconic Cabra ‘rust’, due to post-war fabric shortages.

About 400 people gathered in St Brigid’s Square at the Cumberland Park college for the garden party on Saturday September 4.

Past students and staff from the 1940s through to 2020 reminisced over refreshments and entertainment by old scholar musicians. They also visited a historic display in the library atrium, and toured the chapel and St Catherine’s wing, which was once the boarding house but now houses modern classrooms.

Cabra principal Helen Riekie and college captains Charlotte Combes and Zac Pearce welcomed guests.

Leader of the Holy Cross Congregation of Dominican Sisters, Sr Bernadette Kiley OP, joined Dr Riekie to cut the celebratory cake.

Former student Marie Wood (1967) was one of many to congratulate the college on an extremely successful day.

“Most of all I loved the very positive atmosphere created by keen old scholars, helpful students and generous staff,” she said.

The garden party was an opportunity for old scholars to learn about a project to install new stained glass windows in the college chapel. Adorning the walls of the main section of the historic chapel is a series of stunning stained glass windows created in London during World War I, shipped to Australia and installed when the chapel was built in 1917.

In the Sisters’ Choir section of the chapel, the windows are plain and have been covered for many years. After the recent demolition of the old infirmary and subsequent renovations, the windows were visible again and in need of refurbishment.

Artwork for the new windows has been created by Dominican Friar and world-renowned artist Father Kim En Joong OP and gifted to the college.

“Father Kim En Joong’s artwork beautifully aligns with Cabra’s rich history and will be a fitting addition to the chapel,” said Sr Bernadette.

“The notion of beauty in a sacred space will be reflected through the new Sisters’ Choir chapel windows, capturing the Dominican ethos of seeking and valuing beauty as an expression of divine beauty.”

To donate to the Cabra Chapel windows project, please visit or call the Cabra Dominican College office on 08 8179 2400. All donations are tax deductible.


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