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Celebrating 200 years of Catholic education with Our Lady of Lourdes

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As part of our 200 years of Catholic education in Australia celebrations we share the story of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School. In 2021 Our Lady of Lourdes celebrated 130 years of providing Catholic education to the people of Devonport and surrounds.

“A community is more than the sum total of the persons that belong to it. It is a place where one learns to love.” Pope Francis

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In 1891 Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School was established with 100 students. In 2021 the school provides a Catholic education for 460 students joining the thousands of students who have been educated at the School for over 130 years.

This year 49 families shared their stories of association with Our Lady of Lourdes. Many grandparents, and parents were ex-pupils with their history dating back to 1930.

The common theme from all these oral histories was the kindness witnessed at Our Lady of Lourdes over these year as well as developing young people who have taken on the values and charism of the School. Another strong theme was the individual support students received—and still receive—at Our Lady of Lourdes as lived out by our following of ‘Never see a need without doing something about it’ (Mary MacKillop).

Memories that emerged were of: excursions; Eisteddfods; Book Week; Founder’s Day; Pyjama Day; classes leading church; the Pit in the library; Pedlar’s Parade; Fairs; Nativity plays; school concerts; time capsule at the 100 years celebration; elastics and four square; chalkboards and erasers; ink pot holders and individual desks; videotapes; gas heaters; writing AMDG on every page; cleaning the windows with newspaper and vinegar; tuckshop (vegemite roll was 6 pence); production of The Elephant’s child; and liturgical movement for the School Mass and Weekend Mass.

All contributors agreed that the learning community at the School has created respectful and loyal community members with the history of the Josephite Order resonating strongly over the years.

As the School celebrate 130 years of Catholic Education at Our Lady of Lourdes they are indebted to Mary MacKillop and Julian Tenison Woods for beginning the Josephite Order which in turn set up many schools for children—Our Lady of Lourdes being one of these. The school charisms of dignity for all, humility, compassion, simplicity, justice and trust in God are evident in the words and lives of those parents and grandparents who contributed.

In 1991 Sister Helen Hickey wrote these words to celebrate 100 years and their essence is a reminder of how the Josephite Charism continues at OLOL today:

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