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St Vincent’s School Celebrates Sixty years from a Nissan Hut Beginning

February 10, 2017

To begin the day, a warm welcome was received by visiting priests and religious, past and present teachers, pupils and friends.

Fr Jude Pirotta (a past pupil), Fr. Siju Xavier and Deacon Mark Kelly were the Celebrants at the Mass. Sisters Clare McDermott, Mary Fermio (Past Principal) and Betty O'Donnell attended representing the Sisters of St Joseph.

During the Homily, Fr Jude spoke to us of his experience as a child while he attended St Vincent’s.   As well as being a pupil, Fr Jude lived almost opposite the school. His stories added a humorous flavour to the celebration.

During the afternoon the classrooms were open for tours. How different from the early beginnings of the school where there was over crowding in every room?  Up to 120 children were in the care of one teacher in those early days. The original school was a disused Air Force Hut from Sale Air Force Base. The Sisters who staffed the school travelled each day from Morwell until the Convent (built by volunteers) was completed.

Two major tragedies in the history of the school had a devastating impact on all students and families. The first being a car accident that took the life of the Principal, Sr Francis Borgia and severely injured three other Sisters while travelling to their retreat in the Term Two holidays.  At the beginning of the next Term three new Sisters came to replace them.

The second tragedy was in 1979 when three class rooms were burnt to the ground, these being Prep., Grade 1, and Grade 2.  Within three days the School had three portable classrooms, desks and text books from a near by State School and many donations of teddies as the Preps had their teddies at school for a Teddy Bear’s Picnic to be held at that time.

An exhibition of photos and memorabilia was enjoyed and found to be very popular by all who attended the Celebration.

To finalise the day’s events, a beautifully decorated anniversary cake was cut. Individual cup cakes, iced with the familiar green school uniform colours with a colourful “60” on top, were also available.

Betty O'Donnell rsj

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