Heart of the College will beat forever - Aug 2002

'Sacred Heart College has a deep, rich history and a very special spirit - there is dignity of human beings and combined with that this ability for the girls to be able to express themselves as individuals - to develop.'

There's a Grand Old School
Standing High on a Hill
Where Our Love and Our Loyalty Stay; It Commands Us Still And Always Will, Tho Far O'er Sea we Roam.
Ev'ry Pupil, Too, Both the Old and The New Will Join In This Old Refrain;
Hur-rah And Hur-rah Again.

After 122 years, and well over 6100 pupils,, Wanganui's Sacred Heart College closes for ever in December, but the spirit of the school will remain forever in the hearts and minds of its former pupils and staff.

The school is being replaced by the co-educational Cullinane College, which opens in January on the site of St Augustine's College which it is replacing. In this article MARY BRYAN, herself an old girl of the college,, interviews two former pupils and gives an overview of the school which has shaped so many lives.

Wanganui Chronicle Saturday August 3 2002.

The words of the school song date back to 1912, when the Sisters of St Joseph of Nazareth moved the Sacred Heart Convent School they had founded on May 3, 1880, from Victoria Ave to Oakland Ave, St John's Hill, but its spirit, reflected in the lyrics, remained the same.

The school throughout the years has been noted for its scholarship, for giving its pupils a sense of self worth, a sense of identity and respect for individual differences.

Among the many for whom Wanganui's Sacred Heart College (SHC) has been a guiding force since their childhood, are Sister Justin, 91, and Sister Genevieve, 83. They both attended SHC and taught there.

Sister Justin (Aileen Collins), who entered the convent in 1930 said her vocation was "thought out when 15 years old in SHC's top dormitory. I was very sick with pleurisy and the Sisters were so kind."

Her first memories of SHC date back to when she was five attending Sr Rita's School in Aramoho.

At the time the college, which was also the motherhouse of the sisters of St Joseph of Nazareth, was an imposing brick three-storey building, dominating the St John's Hill skyline, and a noted city landmark.

"I used to look up at it and know that one day I would go to secondary school there."

Subsequently a day girl for two years then a boarder for two years, she said at times it seemed as if the college was full o bells and pianos.
"Music was a big part of our culture. Many of the Sisters as well as teaching school subjects taught piano, violin, singing, speech and drama."

"We studied hard but there was tremendous joy. Feast Days, even if they fell on a school day, were always a holiday, we would have games, sports and on St Joseph's Day a picnic."

"For the Feast of Christ the King we would make a wonderful floral carpet in the grounds and the Catholic community would celebrate it with us."

"St Patrick's day was a misrule day - we would dance, play music, have a picnic, and we always took part in the St Patrick's Day concert held at night in the Wanganui Opera House," Sr Justin said.

She also has vivid memories of the Queen Carnivals held to raise funds for the Catholic Parish. "They always featured a Convent Queen with the crowning taking part in Harman's Hall or the Opera House."

For Sr Genevieve (Joan Greig) the spirit of SHC was present throughout her life.

Her mother's cousins, Kate, Elizabeth and Mary Fox, were among the school's first pupils, when it opened in 1880 and later on her mother Lucy Greig (nee Fox) was also a pupil.

Sr Gemevieve went to SHC on St John's Hill.

"We wore felt hats in winter, panamas in summer with hat bands and everything was much more disciplined than now. You were not allowed to talk in the corridors. If you were caught you were given lines or sent to "the glass door" to Reverend Mother.

"Every Friday afternoon at 3pm there was Benediction which the whole school attended."

"We will be putting the statue of St Joseph out to ensure a fine weekend on November 2-3 for the school reunion. The lunch and the dinner will be held in a marquee on the grounds."

After passing her University Entrance examination, Sr Genevieve studied commercial subjects with a Miss Friend in Liverpool St and worked for the Post Office before joining the Order of the Sisters of St Joseph of Nazareth in 1941.

She taught for a while at SHC and then in Hastings. In 1954 she returned as principal to SHC, remaining as such until 1972. As well as being the college's principal she taught French, Latin, English and History to Forms V, VI and VII.

In 1982 SHC's three- storey brick building was demolished as an earthquake risk and a new school built in the grounds.

The 1980's also saw the college staffed by lay-teachers as the Sisters concentrated more on pastoral care, but their legacy remained.

And it is a legacy Maree Munro, SHC's current principal, hopes will be carried through to Cullinane College.

"Sacred Heart College has a deep, rich history and a very special spirit - there is dignity of human beings and combined with that this ability for the girls to be allowed to express themselves as individuals - to develop," Mrs Munro said.

Her words in some way echo those made by the late Victorine Locke, (nee Ruscoe), who in 1955 in a tribute to the Sisters and SHC wrote:

"Of necessity the history of a school and its fortunes must be the history of its Mother Superior - as the history of a nation is that of its kings.

The rank and file of a school staff have of course much to do in framing a school's spirit, but it is the Superior's influence that moulds, hers is the directing mind, the guiding hand, and our schools have been singularly fortunate in those who have guided their destinies.

Most have been women of great vitality - of splendid organising abilities. Some have been rare disciplinarians - rare scholars - but all have been women of unbounded faith.

Gallery / Whakaahua

Members Login