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Monday, 15 April 2013 17:20

Mary how your garden has grown

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In her modern-day “civvies”, Sr Mary Campion op, posed next to a mannequin in the Dominican habit of the 1960s, which she would have worn during her seven years as a lecturer at Signadou Dominican College of Education from 1965.

Now 81, and standing downstairs from what were her living quarters in the Signadou Building at what is now Australian Catholic University in Watson, Sr Mary marvelled at how things have changed.

She was glad to see some things hadn’t, though, as she looked around at the gathering in the building’s central rose garden, celebrating Signadou’s 50th birthday.

“It’s a joy to see again the beautiful architecture of the building and to see the trees we used to water with a bucket having grown so beautifully,” she said.

Those trees and roses made the ideal setting for a late-afternoon reunion of mainly “old girls”, including the college’s founding principal, Sr Margaret Mary (Gerard) Brown, and her successor, Sr Rosemary Lewins, both fresh from the Great Hall of Parliament House, where they were awarded honorary doctorates in the company of the university’s newly minted graduates.

“It’s a great thrill to meet people again whom I haven’t seen for 30 or 40 years, and to see how they remember the place, too,” Sr Margaret Mary said.

“Everyone was made to feel so welcome, especially because of the small size of the place. I used to go out during the holidays and meet (the students’) families.”

The following day, Canberra’s town crier Alan Moyse called the congregation emerging from the celebration Mass celebrated by Archbishop Francis Carroll in the chapel to the steps of the Lewins Library, where the college’s third principal, Sr Pauline Riley, unveiled a sculpture of St Catherine of Siena.

Sculptor Linda Klarfield said she had given St Catherine, a doctor of the Church, a modern look because she wanted women of a similar age to relate to “my favourite saint”.

“She was a determined young woman who had influence with powerful people, even the Pope,” she said.

A book on the history of the college-cum-university, To Learn – To Teach, Signadou 1963-2013, by Nancy Clarke, was launched during the weekend to mark the anniversary.

This story was originally published in the April 2013 edition of Catholic Voice Canberra.