One amazing group of Sydney women is preparing for the mother of all school reunions more than 3000 kilometres away from their alma mater, St Joseph’s Secondary School in Suva, Fiji.
An alumnae group pioneer, 70-year-old Pam Devlin who left the all-girls school in 1959 when she was 12, says that more than 300 former students and teaching sisters have already registered for the week-long celebration.
It kicks off with an opening Mass celebrated by Fr Epeli Qimaqima (himself originally from Fiji) at St Benedict’s Church Broadway on 16 September from 12.30pm.
Also on the agenda is a gala dinner, a tour of the city, and a trivia and dancing night.
This is the first time the reunion will be held in Sydney, and the largest one ever planned by St Joseph’s alumnae. Former students will gather from around Australia and are even travelling from as far away as the UK, Canada, USA, Hong Kong, NZ, and Fiji.
The school was founded in 1956 and is known as one of the best performing schools in Fiji, particularly in areas of academics and sports.
Pam, who has helped to plan the reunion over the last 12 months, says there is a very large group of ex-students living in Sydney who continue to support the school with donations and by holding fundraising activities throughout the year.
“We’re all looking forward to our reunion and are very excited. It’s a big deal for us.”
She says she “can’t explain the bond” that exists between the former students of all ages all around the world.
“We were all born in Fiji where there is a very strong sense of community, we all share that common heritage, and we just have a love for the country of our birth, for the school we went to and the nuns who taught us and passed on the faith to us,” she says.
“The original nuns who taught us, Sisters of St Joseph de Cluny, were the the most wonderful teachers. They came out from Ireland and were so young and enthusiastic, and the most wonderful teachers.”