The graduating class of 1959 wishes to convey our congratulations to the principal, staff, and members of the St Joseph’s Convent Past Pupils’ Association on the 185th anniversary of St Joseph’s Convent, Port of Spain.
Our entry into the oldest secondary school was by winning a Government Exhibition, attending St Joseph’s Convent Kindergarten, or an Entrance Examination—the fee $16 per term.
Our Principal, Sr Francis Xavier SJC, was our first local principal. She was a graduate of Oxford and was followed by Sr Columba Cathy SJC and supporting staff.
What a sight on the first day of entry! All students proudly attired in their Convent Blue overalls and white inner blouses with white belts. That building we entered set the tone for our future.
The building was a maze of walkways to all classrooms. The chapel glorious with its beautiful marble altars, the baldachin, the vaulted mosaics in the sanctuary dome and the beautiful, stained-glass windows.
It was here we learnt that upstairs the two-storey building on the compound previously housed the Archbishop and was then used by the Catholic Teachers Training College.
Our 1907 Centenary Hall was used mainly for physical education and choir under the stern guidance of Sr Helen de Verteuil SJC. Our choir also performed at our graduation ceremony at the Centenary Hall.
Past choir members of St Joseph’s Convent comprised a significant part of the Marionettes Chorale under the baton of Jocelyn Pierre. Upon her retirement, the Marionettes were conducted by Greta Taylor (née Francis) and Susan Dore (née Davis), her accompanist, for over 40 years. These beautiful voices have graced several Music Festivals around the world.
We are very proud of their accomplishments, especially their achievement of second place at the Wales/England Festival. The Marionettes’ yearly Christmas concerts endure as a great joy for the lovers of music.
Additionally, we recall that both June and Gillian Nathaniel were also part of St Joseph’s Convent rich legacy of musical excellence. We are also very proud to know that Winnifred Atwell was the first to accompany a steelpan on piano. Johanna Chuckaree has also played on a grand piano at the Savannah and accompanies her brother Johann on steelpan – they are both products of St Joseph’s Convent. SJC music is indeed the food of life.
The Legion of Mary was part of our upbringing in spirituality. Every Friday, the Catholic News was collected at the Office on Belmont Circular Road and sold during our last period on Friday afternoons at the cost of $1.
We, the graduating class of 1959, are proud to know that our class has had three outstanding graduates who were called to serve the Lord:
Sr Ruth Montrichard SJC – Servol
Sr Annette Chow SJC – Emmaus
Sr Catherine Therese McComie OP – retired Head of Catholic Education Board)
Sr Mary Geoffroy, who is now in St Vincent, was a student of SJC.
Blessed Ann Marie Javouhey sent her Cluny Sisters out to the islands – “Go ye afar, go teach all nations”. We remember today our dear Sisters who moulded us during our time at St Joseph’s Convent, Sisters Francis Urich, Columba Cathy, Francoise Leanville, Helen and May de Verteuil, Sabastian Hoyes, Stanislaus Byrne, Madre Marina, and Theresa Fortune, as well as the lay staff Carmelita Gouveia and Melba Pounder.
A testament to the dedication of our school’s leadership is the school’s excellent condition and steadfast maintenance of its original condition since its construction after the great fire of 1944.
To the principal, staff, and past pupils, we thank you sincerely for your service and for continuing the extraordinary legacy of St Joseph’s Convent, Port of Spain. — Beatrice Beddoe-McShine, Graduating Class of 1959