The 10th of May is always a special day at All Hallows’ School but this year, the celebration of the School’s Foundation Day was particularly special. This year, we celebrated the 160th anniversary since the arrival of Mother Vincent Whitty and her companions who, soon after their arrival, started what we now know as All Hallows’ School.

Students began the day by creating a 160 formation on the terrace lawn which we filmed and photographed using a drone. The images are a stark reminder of just how much we have grown as a school community. Mother Vincent Whitty would never have imagined that her school would be educating nearly 1600 students each day.

At a special Foundation Day liturgy, staff and students heard the unfolding narrative of the School from the arrival of the Sisters on the 10th May 1861, to the shut-down due to influenza in 1919 and then the impact of World War II on student attendance. The stories of special guests (including 2 saints!) to the school, significant educational developments such as the introduction of computers and the very important Pastoral developments such as the introduction of a vertical house system, painted a picture of a school that is dynamic and not afraid to respond to the educational needs of the times.

The liturgy provided narration, visuals in the form of archival photographs as well as on-stage presentations of historic items, centuries old. Students in old uniforms reminded the girls of the changing fashions and just how comfortable their current uniforms are.

This prayerful celebration of 160 years of Mercy education in Brisbane was a way to connect to our foundation story and a reminder that our mission is to continue to educate girls so that they can contribute to society as strong women of faith.

All Hallows’ School owes much to the work, dedication and persistence of many Sisters of Mercy who educated generations of Mercy girls over the last 160 years. As a way of honouring many of the Sisters who have been part of the All Hallows’ story, a number of staff and students joined current Sisters at Nudgee cemetery where many of the Sisters are buried. There we held a pilgrimage of sorts which took us to the resting place of 13 Sisters who have worked at the School.

From foundress, Mother Vincent Whitty to the most recent Sister to pass, Sr Patricia Plint, School nurse, we took the time to pause and tell some of their stories before praying for each of them in word and song. The pilgrimage was a deeply moving tribute to women of faith who valued the education of girls and worked tirelessly to “fit young women for earth¬†without unfitting them for heaven” as Catherine McAuley would have wished.