My mother, Barbara Laird, was a third form boarder. Since my mother’s passing in 2015, many wonderful photos of her life at St Mary’s Maitland in the 1940s have come to light, including VP Day! One of these shows Sr Benedicta Mary, fondly called ‘Benny’, whose face reflects the joy and relief that must have been felt that day. The absence of a father at war for students such as my mother would have been a sobering reality during their education. However, the friendships made endured a lifetime, through many school reunions, local community and parish life. The highlight of St Dominic’s Day exemplified the strong religious identity of St Mary’s and another photo, dated early August 1945, shows the boarders with a Saturday task - cleaning the statue of Michael the Archangel!
While contemporary education has changed enormously in these ensuing years, many aspects of life at school have not. The simple joys of friendship reflected in Mum’s photos taken at St Mary’s, I see daily in my work as a teacher there today. I think of the many students, nuns and teachers who passed through the school, lived there and have celebrated countless St Dominic’s Days since 1867. They prayed in the magnificent chapel, enjoyed the beautiful gardens, played sport, expanded new buildings and developed a ‘living community’. The Dominican motto Veritas (truth) still speaks at St Mary’s in its contemporary commitment to ‘Integrity’.
Following observances of 150 years of the diocese this year, the sesquicentenary of St Mary’s in 2017 will celebrate the Dominican story and its continuing significance. Memories/stories/photos from past students/Sisters/ teachers/parents/clergy are being collected and readers are invited to contribute by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org (née Jane Burg) or leaving a name and phone contact at the school, P 4933 6177.