Sisters of St Joseph of Lochinvar

St Joseph's Wauchope celebrates 90 years Image

St Joseph's Wauchope celebrates 90 years

In Test Cricket when a batsman cracks through to ten before reaching a Century they talk about the ‘nervous nineties’. Well, there was nothing nervous about the celebration of the Ninety years of History commemorated by St Joseph’s Primary School Wauchope on Friday 25th May last.  The sun smiled away the early clouds as children ran and raced round the perfectly manicured grounds and welcomed a steady stream of visitors who came from near and far to mark the occasion.

A special invitation had gone out to the Sisters of St Joseph –especially any who had taught and toiled in establishing and nurturing the school since its founding in 1928. Hence there was a good roll up of our sisters including Sisters Clare McCudden, Ann Daley and Jeannine French who claim Wauchope as their native home. Others were unable to make the long journey but sent best wishes for an enjoyable day to share treasured memories and to appreciate the wonderful growth in education that was on display in every area of the school life. 

It was with a touch of nostalgia that we were accompanied through the old convent building that now houses the administration. Walking along the beautifully polished hallway, I was conscious of so many who had gone before us and who had lived with me a very happy year back in 1962.  I could almost swear I saw Sr Winifred stooping over the old iron stove that used to dominate the kitchen where she cooked so many meals over the years when there were little boys to be fed and looked after.

But old ways give way to new and we were then swept along to new areas of open learning where present day students were buzzing with interest in following their varied streams of enquiry. Third and Fourth grade were intent on exploring the time line of their school so were thrilled to meet Sr Pauline Burgess who was introduced as the last nun to be Principal of the School and hence a ‘Primary Source’ for valuable insights into the growth of the school.  The bright and colourful layout of the Kindies’ area was decorated with a wonderful  ‘clothes line’ of painted turtles that showed such delight in the wonders of the created world and best of all they had two newly hatched chickens –one of which was to be called after Sr Winifred who was remembered as loving her chookies.    It seemed that every nook and cranny of the old school had been transformed and the modern ways of learning and teaching were being implemented with enthusiasm and enjoyment by both student and teacher alike. 

It was with special delight that we then gathered with the whole school for a commemorative Mass led by Fr Paul Gooley  who entranced the children by comparing the shared 90th birthday of the School with Mickey Mouse – the beginning of the great Disney Empire that had been entertaining the world ever since.  St Joseph’s on the other hand had been spreading the Good News of Jesus to generations of children who had gone on to do wonderful things in far flung places as well as close to home.  This was exemplified in the trilling notes of song from ex-student and previous Vice Captain of the School, Monica Oriel who joined the school choir in a rendering of the National Anthem and then followed on with some wonderful operatic numbers.  Later, School Principal, Mr Brendan Kiely read a letter from famed ex-student Thomas Keneally who recalled happy days in the 1940’s including being a boarder and suffering uncountable meals of spinach grown in the convent garden.  I’m sure Tom would appreciate the present vegie patch that would rival anything that Gardening Australia gurus could grow!

Over a pleasant lunch in the comfortable setting of the Ogilvie Hall, we were entertained by the varied rousing tunes from the school band and choir with a special rendition of the Lighthouse song accompanied by energetic movements that imitated the waves– almost enough to imagine one being on a ship in danger of crashing against the rocks. The tradition of music was well and truly singing in those young voices.

The finale of the day was climaxed by some well chosen words from guest speakers who highlighted the memorable points in their treasure house of memories from many years and then the blessing of the new Honour Boards to record the School Captains and Vice-Captains, the Principals and the Parish Priests who had graced the history of the Ninety years.The Sisters were presented with three framed pictures in memory of their presence at St Joseph's over so many of its ninety years.

The end of the day was signalled by Sr Pauline who rang the bell that tradition says ruled the hours of the school day for so long. 

Congratulations to all who had a hand in making a wonderful day that gave so much joy to so many. 

Sr Ellen Royan