50th Anniversary Celebration – Principal’s address

1962 to 2012

50 years of education and parish life at Our Lady of Perpetual Succour – a milestone.

A time now to reflect and acknowledge the past, appreciate the present and to look with excitement to the next 50 years!

What a year 1962 must have been for this community…..

A new school
Teaching Principal
Parish Priest
The official establishment of a new parish and the building of a new presbytery.

A new beginning laying the foundations of their own church and school, within their local area.
Can you imagine the excitement of the Catholic people in this parish as the reality of their dreams came to fruition?

Father Ashley Jones was the first Parish Priest and he had a great love for the people of West Pymble. He constantly ministered to them spiritually and pastorally and he with the people of the time built a parish where all could flourish and grow in God’s love. Where the gifts and talents of the community could be used for the common good of all….. this ethos is continued today by Salvatorian Fathers.

When one reflects on the history of this parish, something extraordinary during those early years was the desire and dedication of so many people to build a church and the parish. Mr John Sparkes, was a founding parishioner and accomplished builder. He built the church, presbytery and main building block between the years of 1960 to 1967! No easy feat -however with a dedicated group of parishioners responsible for raising funds, clearing land and labouring, the parish soon began to take shape. We see this same passion for OLPS today with the amazing support we receive when we send out a working bee call! Some other early pioneering families that I know of include: the Buckingham’s, Gannon’s and Butels. One story of those early years I have heard and love is the story of the West Pymble parishioners praying to our Lady in the very late 1950’s for a church and school. When their prayers were answered – they made a special request to Cardinal Gilroy for their church to be named “Our Lady of Perpetual Succour.” Their prayers were of course answered and we continue the tradition of a special love and dedication to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour today.

In 1962 the school began…. with 32 Kindy children in an army hut transported from Fidden’s Wharf Road Induction Centre in Killara (Induction Centre for 10 pound poms). Sister Mary Antoinette, a sister of Mercy was the principal and sole teacher.

In 1963 another teacher, Sister Juliana joined Sister Mary Antoinette. In those days the school finished at Year 4. In Year 5 girls continued their education at Mount St Bernard’s, Pymble and the boys generally went to St Leo’s, Wahroonga

As the school began to grow in numbers so too was the need for new classrooms.  Brick classrooms were completed in February 1965 with further classrooms being built and ready for use at the beginning of 1967. This sturdy building continues to serve us well today accommodating four classrooms, a spacious verandah, computer lab and toilet block.

In 1977 Sister Maureen Graham was the last of the Sisters of Mercy to teach in the parish school and with her departure, fifteen years of Sisters of Mercy teaching sisters came to an end.

I recently spoke with Mrs Claire Hopkins, a renowned and dedicated Kindy teacher at OLPS between the years of 1973 and 1986. She described many wonderful aspects of the school during this era. Claire talked about the smallness of the school, the great involvement of parents, the teaching staff and their love for the children and their families. She also proudly recalled the high quality of education offered to all students…. nothing has changed!

1978 saw the arrival of Mrs Margaret Ivanyi as the first lay principal of the school. She expanded the school to Year 6 for both girls and boys.

In the late 80’s the school’s numbers declined. OLPS parents were so passionate about their local Catholic school that they placed their own advertisement for a principal! This was and still is unheard of!

A lady by the name of Val Delany read the ad in the Sydney Morning Herald, applied for the position the rest is history! Val was the principal from 1997 to 2005. Val once told me that the ad attracted her attention because it was like no other she had ever seen and she wanted to be a part of a place where the community was so passionate about their children’s education.

Over the years there have been significant upgrades to the school to the benefit of both children and staff….

  • Additional demountables – to house growing numbers
  • An all purpose court
  • A refurbished bush area where the children play and interact with the environment

As a response to the global financial crisis we were gifted with money from the Federal Government … this money covered the cost of a new administration centre, library and hall, a refurbished staffroom and the Father Jones Hall was converted into a beautiful new classroom. I hope you all have the opportunity on to view the school and its upgraded facilities.

Reflecting on the early beginnings of our school to today

  • From one teaching Principal to 18 staff members in 2012!
  • From 32 students in kindergarten to 189 students K-6 in 2012!

We have all honoured our beautiful motto With Love we Grow and the school has grown and flourished with love from its people.

This school community is like no other I have ever experienced and it is an honour and privilege to have played both a part in the education of the OLPS students past, present and future and continuing to foster a catholic community.

There is a way of seeing and believing and behaving here that truly reflects the values of the gospel: justice… compassion… fairness.. inclusiveness…and hope….. happen here…. on a daily basis. The teachers, students, parents and parishioners, remind each other of these values over and over.

It is so obvious to finish by thanking God for all His blessings and for the constant intercession of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour. We thank God for the loving care which He has given to us all, and we pray that He will continue to bless our community of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour into the future.

With Love we have Grown.

July 2012