The celebrations began with a centenary Mass presided over by Bishop Bill and seven local and visiting clergy. Attendance from 22 Dominican Sisters from various communities, including Sr Judith Lawson OP, prioress of the Order, along with former students, staff, federal and state government representatives, special guests and students made the occasion one to remember.
St Columban’s has a strong Dominican tradition which was symbolically reflected throughout the Mass. The chalice used was originally brought to Australia by the first Dominican Sisters to establish their order as well as the cross that was made as a symbol of the 800 years of Dominican tradition.
Meanwhile, showing great pride in their school, students led guests to the Centenary Garden with lanterns to symbolise the light of the Gospels being spread throughout the world by Dominic and his Order of Preachers.
The new Centenary Garden was officially opened and blessed by Bishop Bill as the crowd came to witness the special occasion. An orange tree, propagated from another growing in the grounds of Santa Sabina in Rome, was planted by former student, Reg Coughlan (aged 93) and Kobe Bunting, the youngest student at the school.
The garden also reflects the Dominican tradition with the four pillars of prayer, study, community and service surrounding the image of St Dominic. Members of the community were invited to purchase inscribed pavers, which are laid in the garden, to commemorate their time and connection to the school.
Following the blessing of the garden, special guests were invited to a delicious lunch while families enjoyed a picnic in the grounds of the school.
Students enjoyed playing old-fashioned games such as 3-legged races, egg and spoon, tug-o-war, marbles and quoits and taking their parents on a tour through open classrooms and photo displays.
“The children had a wonderful time challenging their parents to the games,” said principal, Jennifer Crichton.
Entertainment was also provided by former student and professional musician, Olivia Kolo, who created a relaxing atmosphere during the day.
Many heartfelt messages of thanks and recognition were sent to the school after the weekend, including from Sr Judith Lawson who said, “It was very obvious that the teachers and staff were so proud of their school and very ready to enter into the celebrations with great enthusiasm. The students’ singing and participation in the liturgy is a sign of great excitement and pride in their school.
“Thank you for making the sisters so welcome and offering us beautiful hospitality. I think we all felt very much at home, and in a setting where there was such evidence of the Dominican tradition.”
“As staff and leaders at St Columban’s, we are very proud of our community. The centenary celebration was a wonderful community event where we acknowledged our past whilst consolidating our present and preparing us for our future as a school with a strong Dominican tradition. This tradition is essential to life: Be true to yourself, be true to others, and most importantly, be true to God,” said Mrs Crichton.
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