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St Thomas’ School turns 90, generations of families gather to commemorate life on the hill

Holy Spirit: St Thomas’ School student lights a candle at the start of the anniversary Mass.

“I FEEL when I go up there, St Thomas’ is home,” long-time Camp Hill parishioner and former St Thomas’ School teacher Lola Radford said.

It was also home to four generations of Mrs Radford’s family; she has four great-grandchildren at St Thomas’.

The Radford family was one of many families who gathered to commemorate 90 years of St Thomas’ School at an anniversary Mass on September 8.

Mrs Radford, who taught at the school for 11 years, said it was heart-warming to have students from years ago walk up to her and say hello at the anniversary events.

“It was just lovely to see them all,” she said.

“I really enjoyed my time there.”

Principal Mike Armstrong said St Thomas’ Church was “overflowing with past and present members of our community”. 

Brisbane Auxiliary Bishop Ken Howell celebrated the Mass and 11 Good Samaritan Sisters were present at the celebrations.

Part of the Mass included blessing a plaque, which was placed in a new sacred space – Samaritan Place – opened later that day on the school grounds.

“It was important to us to find a way of honouring their (the Good Samaritan Sisters’) contribution, given that we still have a Good Sam here at our school,” Mr Armstrong said.

Old school: Rob Mollison, Alison Mollison, Margret Robba, Mildred Duncan, Pat Cochrane, Peter Healy, Jack and Pam Healy at the Mass for the 90th anniverrsary of St Thomas’ School, Camp Hill. Photos: Alan Edgecomb

“Sister Carmela Zammit has just clocked up 10 years of volunteering at the school after working here for 30-odd years as a teacher. 

“So she comes in three days a week volunteering and supports students in the early years with their literacy.”

Leading up to the anniversary events, the students were taught all about the school’s history.

“They’ve loved it,” Mr Armstrong said.

“We’re always mindful of honouring the past, I guess, and celebrating the present and embracing the future.

“It’s a legacy.”

The students spent the day after the anniversary Mass visiting the different historical displays at the school, learning about its beginnings and its progress.

In 1929, two Good Samaritan Sisters started teaching classes on the wide verandahs of the old Camp Hill church.

Each day the sisters travelled from their Coorparoo convent to teach at the church-school, drawing about 84 students from the local Catholic families.

After many years teaching on the old church verandahs, a new school building was opened in 1936.

And for 50 years the Good Samaritan Sisters ran the school.

The first lay principal was appointed in 1985.

Honouring the past: Principal Mike Armstrong, Bishop Ken Howell and parish priest Fr Christopher Obi with the Sisters of the Order of the Good Samaritan.

Members of the school community going back to its early years were present at the anniversary events.

Mr Armstrong said it all went back to the heart of the Good Samaritan foundations.

“Our communities were founded on these values and these stories; our communities have thrived now for 90 years,” Mr Armstrong said.

“And we’ve got the most beautiful charism.”

Mr Armstrong said it was humbling to see how many people showed up to the events and he offered his sincere gratitude to the community and supporters.

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