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Our Lady’s College class of 1956 celebrates 60th reunion


Ex-students of Our Lady’s College, now Mercedes College, celebrated their 60th reunion on 17 January 2016. From left to right: Geraldine Rees, Mary Hawthorne, Barbara Zuegg, Jill Sharp, Lynette Sullivan, Jacqueline Clift, Ann Egan, Sr Anna Maria O’Shea, Beth Dallimore (at back), Josephine Smith, Wendy Rutkauskas, Gayna Donovan, Irene Batini, Jennifer Stewart and Toni Rampant. Photo: Supplied

By Marco Ceccarelli

More than 20 classmates from the oldest girls' secondary school in Australia - formerly known as Our Lady’s College, today Mercedes College, Perth - celebrated their 60th reunion on 17 January 2016.

What made the event even more special were the celebrations, held only a week earlier, of the 170th anniversary of the foundation of a religious order which played a key role in the establishment of Our Lady’s College - the Sisters of Mercy in Australia.

In attendance at the event was 92-year-old Sister Anna Maria O’Shea, a former teacher at Our Lady’s College and a reminder to the women present of the many lessons they learnt from her remarkable teaching throughout their younger years.

Held at the Willetton residence of former student Irene Batini, and her husband Frank, the event was a testament to the enduring friendship of the former classmates as well as the successful legacy which the school has left behind.

In an interview with The eRecord journalist Marco Ceccarelli, Ms Batini spoke of her time at Our Lady’s College as one of fun, growth and development and emphasised the remarkable work carried out by the Sisters of Mercy at the school.

“We were part of the junior class of 1956,” Ms Blatini said.

“At the time, there was only one teacher who would teach all the subjects. That is why Sr Anna Maria is so special and important to us. She taught us everything except languages. Having her celebrate this 60-year reunion with us was something truly special,” she added.

Following a toast for the 170th anniversary of the arrival of the Sisters of Mercy to Australia, Sr Anna Maria briefly spoke to those gathered about the history of the sisters coming to Perth and the traditions of service and education they initiated in the 1850s.

The event concluded with a prayer and a blessing read by everyone present, as well as a special mention of those mentors who have since passed away.

The history of Our Lady’s College goes back to just before the 1850s.

In 1849, the Sisters of Mercy began what was known as the School House - the first secondary school in Western Australia, situated in Victoria Square, Perth.

The House opened in 1853 with 279 students and comprised four schools - Our Lady of Mercy School (Pension School), St Mary's (Middle School), St Joseph's (Free or Assisted School) and Holy Angels (Infants' School).

In 1896, as the college flourished, St Joseph's School day school and Our Lady's College boarding school opened their doors. The School House thus became the boarding house for St Joseph's.

By 1963, St Joseph's attained high school status, enabling the acceptance of Leaving students and, in 1967, a merger between St Joseph's Victoria Square and Our Lady's College saw the establishment of the current school - now proudly known as Mercedes College. The name Mercedes is Spanish for Mercy.

Today, Mercedes College is the bearer of a proud heritage where the Mercy traditions and values of compassion, justice, excellence, integrity and service are at the heart of the school’s vision.

Information courtesy Mercedes College website