A Brief History of St. Vincent’s Alumnae Association
St. Vincent’s Alumnae Association was founded in 1902 by Rev. Sister M. Francesca M.A., Principal of St. Vincent’s High School at that time. She created St. Vincent’s Alumnae as an organization to foster the “educational, cultural and social advancement of its members.” It is an organization which has been in continuous active existence since it was founded and has supported the school and its graduates in these fields for over one hundred years.
Sister Francesca was “an outstanding educator, a dedicated person of inspired vision, tireless energy, and infectious ambition.”
Given that women were not even considered “persons” under the law until 1929, creating an organization encouraging women to grow socially outside the home and participate in activities to support their communities, as well as to grow intellectually, was an endeavor well before its time.
St. Vincent’s Alumnae represents a large membership – all graduates of the years 1899-2002. Membership is dependent solely upon a standard of scholarship: having attended or graduated from St. Vincent’s High School. St. Vincent’s has carried on the tradition established by Sister Francesca, who believed strongly in the capabilities of young women and in training them to fulfill any function in society. Our graduates have had, and are at present enjoying distinguished careers in many fields.
During its over 100 years of uninterrupted service, the members of St. Vincent’s Alumnae Association (SVAA) have tirelessly supported numerous social, educational and spiritual activities throughout Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada and countries throughout the world.
When St. Vincent’s High School opened in 1919, the Alumnae produced the musical “HMCS Pinafore” as a fund-raising project and presented over $2000 to the Bishop, as well as providing a $50 award at that time.
St. Vincent’s Alumnae was a pioneer for women’s organizations in Atlantic Canada. In 1917, St. Vincent’s was the “first alumnae in the Maritime Provinces to affiliate” with the Washington D.C. based International Federation of Catholic Alumnae. Again, in 1931 when the Canadian Federation of Catholic Alumnae came into being, St. Vincent’s became a participating member, remaining as such until the dissolution of the Federation in 1976. Partnering with these organizations allowed the members of SVAA to foster their spiritual beliefs and community service.
In 1931, the members first observed Mary’s Day, on the Saturday preceding Mother’s Day. This was a spiritual endeavour of the Association in collaboration with all other Alumnae Associations throughout Canada which were members of the Canadian Federation of Catholic Alumnae.
For many years, a Mass for deceased members was held annually in November.
During World War II, members of St. Vincent’s Alumnae acted as hostesses at the Catholic Sailors’ Club in West Saint John. Here the women, in partnership with the Knights of Columbus arranged entertainment and social gatherings for members of the Armed Forces fighting in the war.
One of the most active groups of St. Vincent’s Alumnae over the years was the Marathon Bridge Committee. Since 1953, when the Marathon Bridge originated as an Alumnae endeavour, this group raised thousands of dollars for educational purposes.
The Annual Tea was an event which had been an activity of the membership for many years. Funds raised from this social event were used for educational commitments, as well as for defraying expenses of the current graduating class.
As a way of keeping in touch with such a large and diverse membership, graduates gather annually in Saint John for a Reunion Dinner. Those who are celebrating reunions have been known to travel across the continent in order to attend. Some members have celebrated 60th and 70th reunions and it is not uncommon for three generations of one family to be present! At the Dinner the members welcomed the most recent graduates into the Alumnae and exchanged memories and stories of days gone by with friends from the past.
Since 1907, graduates of St. Vincent’s High School have been receiving awards and financial contributions from St. Vincent’s Alumnae Association in recognition of their educational achievements and in support of their educational pursuits. When being an educated girl was the exception rather than the rule, awards given to graduates were highly prized by the women and their families. Though today it has become more common for women to pursue and complete their education, the awards provided by St. Vincent’s Alumnae are still sought after by the graduates.
Currently the Scholarship Committee manages assets in the amount of over $190,000. The interest earned annually from the investment is paid to graduates and their direct descendants in scholarships. Funds are raised primarily through the contributions of members using such things as memorial cards, bequests and other donations.
For further information on the history of our scholarships please click on “Scholarships” link on this website.
Future Direction of St. Vincent’s Alumnae Association
In June 2002 St. Vincent’s High School graduated its final class. This marked the end of the high school and this chapter in the history of St. Vincent’s Alumnae Association; however, the existing members of the Association plan to continue as a women’s organization. To achieve this, members of the Alumnae continue discussions on the future direction of the Association and its activities. Our goal is to sustain the organization that has made such a valuable contribution to the communities and women it has served for many years to come.
Presidents, St. Vincent’s Alumnae Association
Mrs. Emily (Bardsley) Harrington
Mrs. Katherine E. (O’Neil) DeGrasse
Elizabeth F. McInerney
Ellen T. Reed
Mrs. Florence (O’Regan) Conlon
Sister Agatha Gorman (Ethelreda)
Mrs. Flora (McDonald) McMurray
Mrs. Clare (O’Connor) Conlon
Mrs. Annie (Gosnell) Mooney
Mrs. Muriel (Corkery) Ryan
Mary M. Chaisson
Catherine F. O’Neil
Mrs. Ella (Stanton) Roderick
Mrs. Dorothy (Kinsella) Henneberry
Mrs. Mary (McGuiggan) McCafferty
Mrs. C. Augusta (Ryan) Fewings
Emma L. Huestis
Mrs. Gerarda (Wilson) Keating
Mrs. Angeline (Lynch) Horgan
Mrs. Margaret (Burns) O’Brien
Mrs. Nina (Burns) Poirier
Mrs. Alice (Dever) Doyle
Dr. Monica Mooney
Mrs. Doreen (England) Sproule
Mrs. Olive (Parsons) Dawson
Mrs. Jean (Eldridge) Marry
Mrs. Shirley (Britt) Dysart
Mrs. Grace (Dever) McManus
Helen E. Crowley
Mrs. Agnes (LaRiviere) Keating
Dr. Monica Mooney
Ruth M. Tobin
Mrs. Shirley (Britt) Dysart
Mrs. Anna (Peterson) George
Mrs. Alice (Lenihan) Montague
Mrs. Mona (McDermott) Duffie
Carey A. Ryan
Mrs. Rosemary (Trainor) Lahey
Mrs. Joan (Doherty) Grant
Mrs. Missy (McPherson) Boyne
Mrs. Mary Anne (Creamer) Ketchum
Mrs. Kathleen (Mooney) MacDougall
Mrs. Nancy (Creamer) Ervin
Mrs. Martha (Barry) Zed
Mrs. Charlene (Boyle) Hayes
Mrs. Donna (Holding) Schroeter
Mrs. Janet (McNulty) Donahue
Sister Mary Ann Maxwell
Marilyn A. Upton
Susan K. Moore
Mrs. Suzanne (Stephen) Buckley
Greta (LeBlanc) Rogers
Maureen (Sears) Hanlon