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St Mary's gathering sparks happy memories


It was a trip down memory lane for more than 95 old scholars and former teachers who gathered at St Mary’s College last month to rekindle friendships and share stories of their time at the city school.

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The April 12 event brought together past students from the 1940s to 1980s, as well as former teachers from the same era. Besides plenty of chatter, the women were treated to a delicious afternoon tea prepared by the Year 12 Hospitality students as well as music performances by the string and flute ensembles.

One of the oldest at the gathering was Sr Kath Hickey OP, 86, who started at the college as a kindergarten student in 1940, before moving in 1951 to complete her Leaving year at Cabra Dominican College.

Sr Kath recalled being a young student during the Second World War and taking part in the air raid shelter practices.

“If there was a practice, you left your classroom straight away – stopped whatever you were doing – and you had to go into these shelters which were like large pipes that had seats on either side,” she said.

“You had to carry with you a white bag and in that was a bottle of iodine, a cork to bite on if you were scared, some bandages and a bottle of water.”

When she started at the college Sr Kath said all the classes were held in one building, with the Dominican Sisters living in the adjoining convent. Each year level had about 20 students and there were only four girls in her Intermediate years.

For the young student who loved reading and spelling, one of Sr Kath’s favourite areas in the school was the library.

“If you were good you could go in there and get a library book and take it home. I tried to be good all the time so I could get a book to read,” she said.

The Dominican Sisters who taught her provided wonderful memories that have lasted a lifetime.

“The Sisters had a big impact on me – they were lovely,” Sr Kath said. “My memories of Franklin Street are of happy years.”

After completing her Leaving year, Sr Kath went on to teachers’ college and spent four years teaching at country schools (Bordertown, Two Wells and Mundulla). After returning to the city the call to her vocation was strong and she entered the Dominican Order in 1959 taking her final vows in 1966.

She continued to teach at several Dominican schools, including at St Mary’s College, from 1961 to 1998.

Another of the past teachers attending the high tea was 90-year-old Sr Norah O’Hara OP, who taught at St Mary’s during the 1960s. She said it was “mind boggling” to see all the new building development that had taken place at the city school in recent years.

A former prefect at the school, Nives Coan, 91, was the oldest attendee at the afternoon tea. She continues to have strong links to the college as her goddaughter Lucina Loro Parham is the Year 12 Drama teacher and Lucina’s daughters are also old scholars.


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