St Dominic’s Day over the years
In the Gospel of Matthew Chapter 13, verses 45-46, is the parable of the merchant selling everything to buy the most rare and precious pearl, “the pearl of great price”. This is the name the Sisters chose for the surrounding land in which they placed the statue of St Dominic in 1901. The statue was the gift of Mr and Mrs Michael Foley, Mrs Foley being a sister of Sr Benignus Cummins. Made of Carrara marble, it was designed by the Dominican Fathers of the English and Irish Provinces and sculpted in Pietrasanta Italy by Angiolo Ferretti. It was unveiled and blessed by Cardinal Moran on the afternoon of 16 September 1901.
We have no records of the celebration of St Dominic’s Day in the earliest days of the school. It would seem that the Sisters and the boarders celebrated with High Mass and singing. Special privileges were enjoyed such as, as one ex-student boarder tells us, being “allowed to speak and given toast at breakfast”. But for many years there were also other “amusements”. A dress-up frolic was held for the younger students and a dance at night for the senior girls. In 1933 a Bridge Party was also held for non-dancers. Visitors were invited such as in 1925 when children from St Martha’s joined in. Tennis matches were very competitive amongst the boarders. Sometimes there were plays written and performed by the 5th Year students. The report in 1944 describes the Rosary Procession around the Grotto (Sisters and students), the Missa Cantata, a play, a lecturette, sport and evening dance and, for the first time mentioned, the crowning of St Dominic by the Head of the School.
In more recent years St Dominic’s Day celebrations have involved quite a few different activities. In 1968 a Walkathon was fun and raised money for charity. In 1982 girls from Years 7-12 dressed in medieval costumes and set up games such as sponge throwing and three-legged races. The Centenary year, 1994, saw a whole weekend of celebration: a re-enactment of the beginning of the school, an Open Day and a Centenary Mass. However it has been and is celebrated, it is a day of great joy and fun.
Mrs Jenny Allison