113 years of connection
In a year of isolation, it is important to reflect on the bonds between the MWIA community and the Loreto Sisters.
Whilst for some this connection is new, for other families the affiliation spans decades and weaves a consistent thread through their lives. For one family this connection extends over four generations, 113 years with a living connection to Mother Gonzaga Barry.
Helen (Healy) Marron and Elizabeth (Healy) Callanan’s mother Kathleen Tunbridge, fondly known as ‘Dossie’, was born in 1895 in Ballarat. Dossie and her siblings Alma, Nancy and Jack attended Loreto Convent Dawson Street for their junior years and then Mary’s Mount from 1907 to 1913. Despite living 500 metres away, they were required to attend as boarders and allowed one family visit per month.
Dossie was at Mary’s Mount when Mother Gonzaga Barry lived in the community and was Loreto’s Mother Provincial. Helen recalled her mother telling her, “Mother Gonzaga Barry was revered, she was a presence at Mary’s Mount on Sundays where she would have afternoon tea with students in their final year and share social behaviour etiquette lessons.” Mother Gonzaga would impress on the students to be Mary Ward Women and contribute to their community.
In 1914, Dossie travelled to Melbourne to train as a nurse, graduating as the Spanish Flu took hold. In 1918 she married Dr Michael Healy who was training at St Vincent’s Hospital and they had five children Margaret, Tony, Ian, Helen and Elizabeth.
Mother Michael Gibson contacted Dossie and encouraged her as an ex-student to send her daughters to Loreto Convent Mandeville Hall. Mother Michael wanted the Loreto Spirit in the school and organised bursaries and subsidies for many ex-students to facilitate this.
Helen started at Mandeville Hall in 1935, Helen remembered, “Sr. Tarcisius, Mother Claire, Mother Francis, Mother Francesca – all the Loreto Nuns were our friends, and we loved them. They were wonderful, warm women. Our nuns were gentle, wise and impressed on us that we were loved by God as we are. Loreto is my family in so many ways.”
Helen recalled her Jubilee celebration where graduating students were crowned with a fresh garland of flowers made by Mother Andrew. This tradition continues for Loreto graduates today.
Helen’s connection to Mandeville Hall continued when she started teaching Year 6 in 1960. Sister Ruth Winship welcomed Helen as a teacher and shepherded her through her first year. Helen taught at Mandeville Hall until 1977.
“When I started teaching at Mandeville I felt at home, I was back in the world I grew up in.”
The association continued with Helen’s daughter Sally (Stagg) and granddaughter Jessica (Stagg) who both attended Mandeville Hall, with Jessica graduating in 2004.
Author: Madeleine Carter
Feature Image: Helen (Healy) Marron, front row middle, of the 1942 Jubilarians