Old boys' book marks reunion of St Patrick's College ex-students

The early years: A group of St Pat's students from 1956-1961 have put together a book about their memories of the school. It will be published this year.

The early years: A group of St Pat's students from 1956-1961 have put together a book about their memories of the school. It will be published this year.

St Patrick’s College Sutherland is marking its 60th anniversary this year.

Team spirit: Former St Patrick's College Sutherland rugby great Grahame Bowen (right) with John Webster, after winning a St Pat's premiership in 1962.

Team spirit: Former St Patrick's College Sutherland rugby great Grahame Bowen (right) with John Webster, after winning a St Pat's premiership in 1962.

To celebrate, its senior foundation class is organising a reunion dinner at Gymea Tradies on April 9.

In conjuction with the event, a small group of the ‘old boys’ have written a book titled The Hannigan Era: The Early Years of St Patrick’s College Sutherland (1956-1961).

The book is a reflective look on the life of school boys from Christian Brothers College in the 1950s and early 1960s.

Contributors include former state treasurer and chancellor of Macquarie University, Michael Egan, and the late St George and Cronulla rugby league player Grahame Bowen.

One of the book’s contributors, Des Levins, said the project arose in 2006 when St Pat’s marked its 50th anniversary.

“At the time boyhood friendships were being renewed and old boys and their teachers began to exchange humorous and whimsical anecdotes about the early years of the school,” he said.

“A consensus emerged that these stories should be published not only to preserve fading memories, but also because they represented an important social commentary of Catholic education in the 1950s and early 1960s.”

The book covers the first six years of St Patrick’s College from its foundation as an upper primary school in 1956, with three Christian Brothers and 177 students, to the end of 1961 when there were 12 teachers and more than 500 students.

Mr Levins said Brother Hannigan was a guiding light to students through this period.

At 32 he was chosen as principal of the college for the first time in his career.

“He set about bringing traditions of dress and deportment to Sutherland Shire,” Mr Levins said.

“Locals were astonished to see pupils going to and from school wearing felt hats, polished shoes and socks held up with elastic garters.

“The parents appreciated the discipline, good manners and Christian principles taught at the school.”

Mr Levins said that from simple exchanges of reminiscences, the project grew to include biographies of the Brothers and lay teachers, the origins of the school song, religious instructions, sporting achievements and the contribution of parents and friends. 

The book also follows the careers and life experiences of ex-students and their contributions to Australian society and the community.

“Brother Hannigan passed away in March 2015 but he was aware that the book was in preparation and he contributed his thoughts on those times,” Mr Levins said.

“This book is also dedicated to his memory.”

The reunion is for the first senior class at St Pat’s who began in 1956 and finished their schooling in 1961.

Details: reunionmatters@gmail.com

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