Through a wonderful series of events, St Paul’s, Moss Vale have recently celebrated their 70th anniversary and also, 130 years since the official blessing of St Paul's Parish Catholic Church. Students have prayed, painted, sung, danced and gone ‘back in time’ on a history walk – all marking this significant milestone in the life of their community.
St Paul’s, Moss Vale Principal Don O'Brien said the children’s joyful participation in the anniversary celebrations has been the highlight of the occasion. “The celebrations are a recognition of the wonderful work of the spirit within our community and the encouragement to continue that work joyfully. The students have been a credit to us all; they are proof of the great work we are all engaged with, in raising and educating them.
“Of particular note was the unified and comfortable relationship between our school families and the wider parish; we worked together beautifully to mark the occasion. Seeing the very young children interacting with the more experienced members of our community has been really moving.”
See below St Paul's students talking about their commemorative history walk.
During Week 9 of Term 2, the school was busy with activities that included:
- Monday 25 June: The week began with a whole school Mass. This was followed by the opening of the school's history walk - featuring photos, historical documents, parish and school records, vestments and vessels. Each class walked back in time, browsing through some of Moss Vale’s wonderful past. Students delighted in reading old school reports, looking at past school uniforms and imagining what school life was like before they were born!
- Wednesday 27 June: Retreat day - each class attended sessions with Fr Richard, where he led students in prayer. For Years 3 to 6, this was the Angelus prayer and for Kinder to Year 2, students were asked to present their own prayers of gratitude.
- Thursday 28 June: Rock painting - each student was invited to paint a rock using an Aboriginal colour palette. Once finished, the rocks were weather sealed and then concreted under a bridge in the school’s adventure playground to create a striking cobblestone 'river' - leaving a permanent memorial. This was followed by a BBQ lunch provided by the parish and a music concert led by Tim Hart, Education Officer-Primary in the CEDoW Catholic Life, Education and Mission team.
- Friday 29 June: Time with St Paul's parish priest - Fr Richard Green visited each class to talk about the bicentenary, St Paul and the history of the school. This provided students with a valuable opportunity to go over the events of the week and discuss what they had learned. The day culminated with a Solemn Mass celebrated by Bishop Brian Mascord. Following Mass, a parish dinner was held at the Moss Vale RSL Club.
Mr O'Brien particularly acknowledged the support of the community and especially the school’s P&F who worked with staff in achieving the events. “I’m truly grateful to the contribution made to the success of our celebration week. Jesus has asked us to share his message of love and forgiveness and in doing so, extend the reign of God in our world. Our community lives that mission daily. It is especially evident when we support each other in community events, such as these celebrations. It is just as evident in the small kindnesses and the care we share with each other daily.
Our school and parish community has a long and proud history of doing just that.”
Moreover, Mr O'Brien recognised the pastoral leadership of Fr Richard. “We are blessed in many ways in our community and not least of all, in our beloved parish priest.”
St Paul’s was established on their present site by parish priest, Msgr Lynch, in December 1947. The school commenced classes in January of 1948. The school has a long pastoral association with the Josephite and Dominican traditions.
From 1891, Dominican Sisters staffed the school in the old school house on the grounds of St Paul’s International College. The Dominican motto is - Veritas (truth) and the maxim is - to Pray, to Preach, to Bless.
The Dominican coat of arms was the original school crest and Veritas was the original school motto. St Paul's still recalls their Dominican heritage in the naming of their Veritas and Dominic rooms. There is also a Dominican coat of arms in the school hallway, as well as list of Dominican sisters who were principals.
Today, the emphasis of prayer, teaching and appreciation of God’s blessings is evident in the daily life of the school, as it continues to build on the foundations laid by the Sisters. The original school motto - All to All, comes from St Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. In 2017, this motto was expanded to - All to All in faith and learning.
Read below an excerpt from Mr O’Brien’s speech, delivered at the anniversary parish dinner:
"Since coming to Moss Vale, I have been made to feel wonderfully welcome. The kindness of people who have gone out of their way to introduce themselves and extend welcome to me has been truly touching. This welcome has extended beyond immediate families with children at the school, to parishioners and some locals from town. People have taken time to make themselves known, ask about my family and tell me something of their association with the St Paul’s community. And in this later part, they have spoken with palpable pride in the community with whom they identify. I have been telling anyone who listens that this is a remarkable place and a community that I have very quickly found a home in.
It is my contention that this heart-warming welcome is more than the social niceties of good people. Whilst it's certainly that, I would like to further suggest that this sense of welcome and embrace is a fruit of the work of the spirit within this community. It is central to our shared mission of proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ, and extending the kingdom of God centred on God’s gratuitous love, forgiveness and infinite compassion. You can see the evidence of this claim in the story of the St Paul's school community.
It seems the twelve Dominican principals, and the many sisters who worked in the school over the years, had great skill and insight in building community and engaging people in the work of the school and parish. This is a great gift that still echoes up to the present".
Happy anniversary St Paul’s, Moss Vale.