Centenary Celebrations in Jersey: 1911-2011
Centenary Mass – June 13, 2011
There were great celebrations in Jersey to mark 100 years of FCJ education on the Island.
The FCJ sisters first went to Guernsey in 1907 after the imposition of anti-clerical laws in France impeded and disrupted life in their convents in Brittany. Later, in 1911, they were invited to Jersey to provide education through the medium of English.
Across these 100 years of presence in Jersey, the FCJ Sisters have been involved in primary and secondary education, in the Catholic parishes and in a variety of pastoral ministries. Today there are no FCJ sisters living on the Island, but FCJ education continues at the FCJ Primary School on Deloraine Road in St Saviour’s.
Miss Maureen Doyle, head teacher, supported by a hard working team of staff and parents organised various Centenary Celebrations that were inclusive of the wider community. The highlight of the June celebrations was a Centenary Mass celebrated by Bishop Crispian Hollis and attended by Sr Katherine Mary O’Flynn, general superior of the FCJ sisters.
Sr Cecilia, a former principal currently missioned to Calgary in Canada, writes: ‘In early June, Sr Gloria and I flew in from Gatwick right across the Island. Before landing, we were busy trying to recognise all the places we loved. To be so close to the sparkling sea again and to drive along the narrow, shady lanes, was the beginning of a wonderful Jersey Experience. My memories are full of families, Staff, pupils and events. The highpoints were the warmth and sincerity of their welcomes and the sheer joy of being amongst them all again’.
Sr Catherine, who taught in the 1980s, writes of the Centenary Mass and of her visit to the school, ‘the singing at Mass by the FCJ Primary School Choir was beautiful ... and I cherish an incident in one of the nursery classes. One of the children said to me -“I know you, you were one of the first teachers in our school." I thought to myself, (thinking this is a centenary celebration) “I must look old!”
Sr Susan recalls “the buzz of animated voices as people greeted one another before the Mass in St Thomas' Church, the harmonious voices of the children singing a version of The Lord is My Shepherd that I hadn’t heard before, the youngest child carrying a candle very solemnly to the Bishop instead of placing it on the gifts table before the altar, and Sr Katherine Mary's words to all the congregation encouraging us to be companions to each other.”
Sr. Lucy writes that she will never forget the Centenary Celebration in Jersey: “ I stood in the entrance of St Thomas' Church to greet the people as they came in. But it was the FCJ parents who greeted me! One after another, they threw their arms around me in such an embrace of affection and gratitude, that I was quite overcome. I have never experienced such an outpouring of genuine love and delight. These were mainly the parents of children who had benefited from our "Assisted Places Scheme" and their appreciation and gratitude were positively palpable. God bless dear Sr Breda and Sr Patricia who inaugurated the scheme. One prominent public figure has said openly, "I wouldn't be here today if it were not for the FCJs’ Assisted Places.”
“The happy, secure and loving atmosphere of the FCJ schools in Jersey has been remarked upon by many generations of former pupils. In a time of change, that atmosphere remains as intact as ever.” (‘The Good Companions’ P 67 Jerseylife May 2011)
FCJ Primary School Centenary Concert
As part of their Centenary celebrations, all 395 pupils at FCJ Primary School proudly presented to their parents an Around-the-World Showcase of Music, Art, Dance and Drama (Tuesday and Wednesday, 12th and 13th July 2011). The performance was held over two evenings at St Mary & St Peter’s Church on Wellington Road; a venue that could hold all pupils as well as their parents.
The children from the two Reception Classes took us on a tour of Irish culture, beginning with a Gaelic Irish welcome, the songs Molly Malone and I’ll Tell me Ma, an Irish Blessing and a performance of their very own style of Irish dancing. Needless to say, their efforts brought the house down!
This was followed by Year 1 and Year 2 enacting the story of ‘How the Elephant got his Trunk’. During their art lessons each child designed and decorated an African shield for use during the performance. They finished their story with the song ‘Down Came the Rain’, sung in two parts.
Year 3 and Year 4 children took us on a cultural trip to New Zealand, opening with a slide show of that very beautiful country. There followed a traditional Maori welcome, ‘Te Waka’ delivered with great enthusiasm. This led into a dramatisation of ‘Maui and the Fish Hook’. The song ‘Poekarekare Ana’ was sung movingly in two-part harmony. A traditional Poi performance was followed by a scary rendition of the Haka by the Y3 and Y4 boys. Their exit was as dramatic as their entrance with the calling of ‘Te Waka’ as they walked off stage.
The finale was left to the Year 5 and Year 6 children who took us on a tour of Ancient China. There were violin solos and quartets; the song Ode to Mulan, followed by Reflection. The boys gave a wonderful rendition of ‘Be a Man’. The girls performed a beautiful dance routine, Aspect of China, and the performance concluded with a rousing rendition of ‘Honour to us All’.
A retiring collection was taken after each concert for the FCJ Sisters’ overseas missionary work and a total of £950 was raised.