Sisters of St Joseph of Lochinvar

St Joseph's Merewether All School Reunion Image

St Joseph's Merewether All School Reunion

There were miles of smiles at the St Joseph’s High School Reunion. When ‘the girls’ gathered in the oldest school building, now beautifully renovated, on 9th June, laughter and fun were never far away. Meeting friends, going back in time and opening the door to youth, vitality and optimism – that is the way to produce many smiles.

St Joseph’s strong spirit of unity and inclusiveness has often been acknowledged over the years. It is demonstrated in the school motto of ‘Honor et virtus’, which is perhaps best translated today as ‘goodness that endures’. T’ese Butler (Plummer), a member of the organising committee, wrote in the Newcastle Herald: “Warm, friendly, safe, positive – these are the words that come to mind. I feel a glow and I picture (the school) with a bright light around it. It really means something to be a Joey’s girl. The Sisters were just magic and gave us a great foundation for life. They were very, very supportive and taught us a lot about self-respect and respect for others.”

From 10.00am to 12.00, the ex-students spent time browsing through a photo display, finding treasures from the past and triggering memories. They caught up with classmates – more stories, more laughter and perhaps the occasional tear.  Later a crowd of 275 gathered in the beautifully decorated Winsor Room in South Newcastle Club where they were welcomed by Margie Harris on behalf of the committee and, while enjoying tasty food, settled in for a long chat.

Later Sister Ellen Royan (Leo) delighted everyone with tales of what education was like in a Year 7–10 Catholic Girls’ High School in the 1960’s, an era different from the affluent hi-tech world of today. Ex-student Gabbi Hollows, who had come all the way from Spain for the event, spoke of her time at both the Primary and High Schools and briefly about her work in the Fred Hollows Foundation.

 After this the enormous cake, decorated in the ‘old blue and gold’ was cut by the oldest ex-student, Sister Clare Conroy. Sister Carmel Moore gave a vote of thanks to the committee, remarking that no matter how old we may be in age, we are always happy to be in touch with the ‘child within’. She commended the committee for their tireless efforts to organise and advertise and for doing it all with so much finesse. Then Claire Groombridge held a trivia quiz, with prizes of Merewether coffee mugs or Merewether wine.

The conversations, of course, went on and on long after. For a school that closed its doors 34 years ago, it was an extraordinary event. The three last Sisters in the school, Marie Craddock, Denise Edmunds and Carmel Moore, went home feeling they had been enriched by the girls they had met - and with a great sense of the completion of a ministry that has been richly blessed.

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