By Patricia Phelps-Scott
The oldest secondary school in Trinidad and Tobago celebrated 183 years in April and the students who graduated in 1969 from Form 5 and Form 6 celebrate 50 years as graduates.
The graduates are looking forward to the special Mass on Sunday, June 2 and the brunch that follows when we will be sitting together at special tables to renew our friendship and contribute to our Alma Mater by our presence and our fundraising project for the renovation of the Chemistry lab which includes the sale of a simple booklet named All’s well that ends well by Patricia Phelps-Scott, graduate of 1969.
To purchase booklets, contact Pat 792-7801 or 675-7135, Jasmine 771-0377 or 632-8244. For the June 2 Mass and brunch, contact Mildred 460-4698 or 667-2978, Jacqui 497-7041. You can also contact us via WhatsApp.
We need all who can walk, drive, fly, etc. to come for this event. Teachers and well-wishers are welcome.
Following is an excerpt of the SJC history taken from the Facebook page of alum Maria Nunes: On January 29, 1836, six sisters from the Congregation of Sisters of St Joseph of Cluny arrived at the wharf in Port of Spain, having travelled by boat from Martinique, and then made their way uptown by horse and buggy to the home of Madame le Cadre Bégorrat on St James Street (now Frederick Street).
They were invited to come to Trinidad by Bishop McDonnell, Prelate of the Catholic Church in Trinidad, for the purpose of “founding a house of education in which all classes and religions can receive a solid and adequate grounding.”
This small group of nuns was sent by Mère Marie-Therese, then superior of the community in Martinique and sister of Blessed Anne Marie Javouhey, the foundress of the Congregation. Blessed Anne Marie Javouhey was herself unable to make the trip to Trinidad because she was engaged in French Guiana at the time.
Only two months after their arrival the six sisters were able to open a boarding school for girls on April 5, 1836. By 1838 the school had grown to 50 boarders rendering their rented premises increasingly inadequate.
In 1840, to meet the growing needs of the school, the Sisters purchased a property which had come up for sale on Kent Street (now named Pembroke Street) where they built St Joseph’s Convent. This is the site which still remains the location of the present school on Pembroke Street today.
In the early years students were examined orally in public by outside examiners in the presence of the nuns and visitors. These exams were called concours and were an exhibition of the literary, artistic and musical accomplishments of the students. Over the last 180 years much has changed, but the commitment to excellence and the all-round education and development of students has remained constant.