by COLLEEN LINNELL
DUNEDIN — St Mary’s Parish and school in Kaikorai celebrated 100 years in good southern style over Labour Weekend.
The sun shone for the gala on Saturday, October 20, which was part of the celebration of the centenary of the opening of the church and the establishment of the school.
But the weather hadn’t looked promising 24 hours earlier. Horizontal rain and hail reminded some parishioners to put their statues outside and say more than a couple of Hail Marys for an improvement — which proved effective.
The celebrations were attended by 160 people, including ex-pupils, staff and former parishioners who had registered.
There was lots of talk on the Friday night when Adrian Kubala officially opened the festivities in the hall. Photo displays on the wall were studied and old friendships renewed.
The history book titled 100 Years on the Hill, published to mark the centenary, was very well received.
At the gala, Sr Mary Winifrede, OP, who had started school in April, 1918 as Vera Morris, and Natalia Atherton, one of the youngest of the current pupils, cut the centenary cake, which was decorated with the old St Mary’s logo.
The centennial dinner was held at Forbury Park, at which Fr Brian Dougherty said grace. Later the guests were addressed by Bishop Colin Campbell, Fr Dan Cummings, Tom Lynch and Richard Duffy, the current school principal. A slide show of old photos and old silent movies showing the building of a wall in Taieri Rd in 1950, First Communion in 1950, concreting the playground in 1956, the jubilee picnic at Mt Allen in 1975 and the Outram rodeo in 1975 — featuring Fr Dan Cummings — had lots of people transfixed.
Many people thought it was wonderful to see Fr Loughnan and Sr Di Ricci and many of their departed parents and also themselves as very young children — there was lots of nostalgia.
On December 8, 1912, the new Catholic Church in Taieri Rd was blessed and opened and dedicated to the Immaculate Conception and in February, 1913, the school of St Mary’s was opened. The Dominican nuns came up from the cathedral on the cable car and taught classes in the back of the church. They used the sacristy and porch and later, on fine days, used what had been the stables — renamed St Anne’s Pavilion — so that the children could enjoy the sunshine. It would be that way for 16 years before a school was built in 1929.
On the Sunday morning at the centenary celebrations, Bishop Campbell, along with St Mary’s parish priest Fr Cipriano Fernandes and concelebrating priests Frs Kevin Toomey, Brian Dougherty and Dan Cummings, celebrated the centenary Mass, with the little church full to capacity and the overflow having a video link to the hall.
The schoolchildren, the parish music group and the Tongan choir all added their voices and music to this occasion. The final hymn was Hail Queen of Heaven, which was a fitting tribute to the past.
Lastly, there was a cuppa in the hall for a last goodbye, and promises of keeping in touch put the seal on a wonderful weekend.