By: Samantha Motion

Sisters Allison Macalister, Gabrielle O’Neill and Emeli Marafano with St Mary’s youngest student Tomas Hooper 5, and oldest, Jorja Smart 11. Photo/Andrew Warner

St Mary’s Catholic School will hold a jubilee at the end of this month to mark 75 years since it first opened its doors in 1942.

Former students, staff and families have been invited to gather at the school for a weekend of special celebrations over September 22-24.

Even the planning process for the jubilee has prompted an outpouring of memories, shared to the event’s Facebook page in the form of photos and messages, current principal Ben Fullar said.

He said the official festivities will begin on the Friday with registration events, tours and performances.

Saturday is the main event. In the morning there will be tours and a “roll call” and yearbook-style photographs of each decade’s students.

A picnic lunch and tours will be followed by drinks, dinner and dancing at BayPark ASB Arena Stadium Lounge.

On Sunday guests will be invited to mass at St Mary Immaculate Church.

Former principal of the school Sister Gabrielle O’Neil will be among the attendees.

She has maintained a close relationship with the school since her 12 years leading it from 1962 to 1974.

Sister Gabrielle said the school was originally fully staffed by nuns, with lay teachers arriving later.

She now lives with the other Sisters of St Joseph of Cluny next door to the school.

She was not the only one to have stayed close.

Mr Fullar said the school had six staff – five teachers and one teacher aide – who were once pupils. They were Bryan Crowe, Megan Akkerman and three sisters – Anna MacKinnon, Joanne Meehan and Nicola Meehan.

Source: Bay of Plenty Times


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