St Patrick's Primary School celebrates 150 years of Catholic education in Bega in 2019

Next year marks 150 years of Catholic education in Bega, and St Patrick’s Primary School is celebrating the milestone with a glance back in history. 

Principal Jo Scott-Pegum said the school will spend the next year collecting memorabilia and personal stories from St Patrick’s students, teachers and their families over the last 150 years.

“Maybe grandma or grandpa has their old school uniform or books, or generational photos of relatives who attended the school,” she said. 

“If you have anything to lend to the collection or a memory to share, get in touch with the school.”

St Patrick’s will set up an exhibition at the school On St Patrick’s Day next year to display the artifacts and photos to document 150 years of Catholic education in Bega.

Other events will include historical dress ups, tree planting, time capsule, a whole school anniversary photo and a school mass.

“What we would really like to do if find the oldest living student of St Patrick’s so they can join the youngest enrolled student in our St Patrick’s Day mass procession,” Ms Scott-Pegum said. 

Over the following weekend, St Patrick’s will also host an open day, school tours, a dinner and bush dance. 

St Patrick’s Day falls on Sunday, March 17 next year, and will be marked by a special visit by the Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn. 

In 1868, John Mangan established an even school that opened as the Roman Catholic Denominational School the following year, situated in the wooden Catholic Church. 

In 1884, the Sisters of Charity came to Bega to establish a school on the St Patrick’s Church property. In 1886, the parish and the school Celebrated St Patrick’s Day and the Sisters of Charity  laid the foundation of St Patrick’s School, which originated from the school first established by John Mangan. 

If you would like to contribute a memory or item to the 150 year anniversary, contact St Patrick’s Primary School on 02 6492 5500.

Memories of St Patrick’s school days past:

“When My family moved to Bega in about 1936, I was in second class. A small nun, who could have passed for a jockey, Sister Benmore, taught us.”

“Sister Benmore taught Margaret Kemp, Maureen Connelly and myself to tap dance. She would pull up the brown habit and these tiny little feet would jig around, teaching us many different steps.”

Joan Heffernan 

“Music lessons were great, Sister Beatrice was beautiful, I guess I owe her my great appreciation of music today. Sometimes it was very cold and so therefore hard to get the fingers going on the violin, no heating in those days either.”

“The sisters took us for a walk one holy day, we walked to Tarraganda, a long way for a little girl, but a wonderful day full of fun, skipping, running laughing and skipping along the way.”

Veronica Coman

“Sister Teresa ruled all and sundry in sixth class with a rod of iron. This tall, thin, remarkable  woman scared the pants off the lot of us. She was a strict disiplinarian and would stand no nonsense in the classroom. However, under all that facade she had a heart of gold and loved each and every one of us.”

Sid Hergenhan

“The boarding girls were always into mischief, just to keep the nuns on their toes. Homework books were on the table but eyes were on the novel on the lap! Food not liked was dispensed down the toilet via the stainless steel water pitcher.”

Mary Lette

“One time one of my classmates thought it would be a lark to put my pig-tails in the ink-well. Sister came down as we were squabbing and both of us were told to stand out in front of the class for the rest of the lesson.”

“St Patrick’s Day was a big event in our lives, probably because the parish was so named. Also in those days there were a lot of Irish priests, so that particular saint was well revered. The hymn ‘Hail Glorius St Patrick’ is still ringing in my ears when I think of school days.”

“School days, those wonderful golden rule days which we didn’t fully appreciate.” 

Dorothy Crowe