What past students of St Pat's say

The year was 1974: A teaching Sister with her group of students at St Patrick's.
The year was 1974: A teaching Sister with her group of students at St Patrick's.

The land on which the Nazaretto Convent now stands was bought by Dean Hely for the Sisters of Charity in 1883. The five acres, a slab and timber residence was sold for 350 pounds.

In 1888 Right Reverend Dr Higgins laid the foundation stone of the new Convent. The building cost 3000 pounds to build by Underhill & Thatcher and blessed by Bishop Higgins on September 18, 1891.

This building has certainly stood the test of time. From the years 1884 to 1926 there were 29 Sisters of Charity working with the children at the school.

From 1927 the Josephite Sisters taught at St Patrick's School, provided tuition in music, assisted with Scripture in local state schools and involved in pastoral care.

Over the next 26 years the number of Sisters decreased at St Patrick’s which became a systemic school in the Canberra/Goulburn Archdiocese. Sr Yvonne McGettigan was the last Sister to teach here with Convent doors closing in 2001.

But what do past students say of the school?

I pay tribute to our three sisters at St Joseph, who give us an example of following in the footsteps of Mary MacKillop in living and working with the people.

For the sisters some days commenced at 6.30am leading the people in prayer, a busy day at the Presbytery, hospital visitation, seminars, choir, prayer groups and home visits to the needy.

We had a roster whereby we stayed back after school to clean our rooms and the verandah for lessons the next day.

Norma Allen (Rheinberger)

Happy days

It takes me back to slates and inkwells.

Each year the Sisters would prepare for us our annual concert which was usually held in the School of Arts. It was here too that we held our St Patrick’s Day dance. There were a lot of Irish priests so that particular saint was well revered.

At the Convent there was a tennis court and a lovely vine-covered gazebo. I loved the Chapel where we would go along for morning Mass. To see the nuns all gathered together, praying, made it very special for me.

Dorothy Crowe (nee Cesnik)


Sister Aquinas was the new principal at St Patrick’s School the year I came to board at the Convent.

When I look back now, Sister Aquinas would be considered to be in the superwoman status of today's world. She was not only a teaching principal in the secondary school but also in charge of the primary school and its activities, as well as managing a convent that catered for boarders.

I remember her as being strict but a very fair person.

My years as a boarder, on the whole, were happy ones. The pantry was a great place to get biscuits while one always listened for the Rosary beads! Just to reassure the reader, we were well fed, with good food, fruit and always supper at night.

A lot of fun was had by all in between our daily jobs and music practice and study.

Ellen Bevitt (nee Collins)

Chris Steel came to St Pat's in a roundabout way. His mother bought a piano wanting Chris to have lessons from the Sisters. Knocking on the Convent door, Sister Ambrose agreed to teach him.

He moved from Bega Public School to St Patrick's when he was halfway through sixth grade.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my time here," Chris said. "The nuns were very good. One Irish sister was like Pied Piper with all the children following her.

“I remember the sports days at the showground. Underneath the Father's habit was his football clothes."

This story St Pat's: Memories of times gone by first appeared on Bega District News.