The St Margaret’s Anglican Girls School community gathered at St John’s Cathedral recently to celebrate the school’s 125th anniversary.
More than 890 students in Years 5 to 12, St Margaret’s and St Aidan’s staff, Old Girls and special guests attended the Eucharist. Sister Gillian, Sister Eunice and Sister Sandra, the three remaining Sisters of the school’s founders, the Sisters of the Society of the Sacred Advent, were also in attendance.
The Archbishop of Brisbane, The Most Rev’d Dr Phillip Aspinall, presided over the service, assisted by the Dean of St John’s Cathedral, The Very Rev’d Dr Peter Catt and St Margaret’s Chaplain The Rev’d Susan Crothers-Robertson.
Students in all year levels were actively involved in the service, from participating in the processional, delivering readings and prayers, through to singing in the choir and partaking in communion. Each student also received a 125-year school pin, blessed by the Archbishop during the service.
Year 12 student and Sacristan Sophia Colledge was tasked with the role of crucifer during the service, leading the processional in and out of the sanctuary and assisting with communion preparation.
“I was humbled to have taken an active role in this significant spiritual celebration for the school,” Sophia said.
“Throughout my St Margaret’s education, I have been lucky enough to have had a close relationship with the Sisters. From Pre-Prep through to Year 12, the Sisters’ nurturing and authentic values have provided consistent guidance as reflected throughout the order’s 125 years of history at St Margaret’s.
“I will wear my 125-year pin as a daily reminder of the beautiful service celebrating the Sisters’ foundation of our school.”
St Margaret’s was founded in 1895 by the Sisters of the Society of the Sacred Advent (SSA) who had a vision to educate the whole child. Throughout its 125 years, St Margaret’s has remained steadfast in its commitment to the Sisters’ vision and faith, ensuring its students receive a holistic education.
In his homily, the Archbishop established a connection between the verse ‘Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favour with God and with people’ (Luke 2.52) and education.
He shared: “The four ways in which Jesus grew (in wisdom, in stature, in favour with God and with people) are a kind of framework for education. In many ways this is the framework that’s at the heart of St Margaret’s. These four dimensions of growth point to the holistic, comprehensive, well-rounded education St Margaret’s provides.”
Later in his address the Archbishop said: “Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favour with God and with people. In those few words lie the roots of an educational philosophy that has made a remarkable contribution in Queensland and beyond.
In her marvellous history of St Margaret’s, Inspired to Fly. 125 years of St Margaret’s, 1895-2020, Madonna King sums up the core vision well: “to put the love of God above all else and love of one’s neighbour as our constant, to produce people of fine character and scholarship and to develop each to their fullest potential; and to engender courtesy at all times and respect for all…” (King, 2020, 242).
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From the beginning, the SSA sisters were determined that girls would have opportunities to come to faith in Christ, be able to pursue academic excellence, and be keenly encouraged in cultural pursuits – music, art and drama – as well as in sports. Service to others was also integral to girls’ character development, which was the focus of an SSA education.
Our state and the Anglican Church Southern Queensland owe a great deal to the Sisters of the Society of the Sacred Advent. Theirs has been a singular contribution to the education of girls for 125 years. And, driving that contribution from the beginning to today is the passion for justice, wellbeing and fullness of life born of faith in Jesus Christ that is the heart of the sisters’ community life.
The occasion was a marvellous opportunity to gather so many of the St Margaret’s community as the school enters its milestone 125th year.
King, Madonna. 2020. Inspired to Fly.125 Years of St Margaret’s, 1895-2020. QUP.