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 – Charter Member
Mrs. Katherine E. (O’Neil) DeGrasse – Charter Member
Elizabeth F. McInerney – Charter Member
Isabelle Reed – 1899
Ellen T. Reed – Charter Member
Mrs. Florence (O’Regan) Conlon – 1904
Sister Agatha Gorman (Ethelreda) – 1902
Mrs. Flora (McDonald) McMurray – Charter Member
Mrs. Clare (O’Connor) Conlon – 1902
Mrs. Annie (Gosnell) Mooney – 1902
Mrs. Muriel (Corkery) Ryan – 1910
Mary M. Chaisson – 1916
Catherine F. O’Neil – 1903
Mrs. Ella (Stanton) Roderick – Charter Member
Kathleen Lundy – 1913
Mrs. Dorothy (Kinsella) Henneberry – 1911
Mrs. Mary (McGuiggan) McCafferty – 1903
Mrs. C. Augusta (Ryan) Fewings – 1911
Emma L. Huestis – 1927
Mrs. Gerarda (Wilson) Keating – 1925
Mrs. Angeline (Lynch) Horgan – 1925
Mrs. Margaret (Burns) O’Brien – 1923
Mrs. Nina (Burns) Poirier – 1924
Mrs. Alice (Dever) Doyle – 1929
Dr. Monica Mooney – 1939
Augusta McGrath – 1922
Mrs. Doreen (England) Sproule – 1938
Mrs. Olive (Parsons) Dawson – 1938
Mrs. Jean (Eldridge) Marry – 1941
Mrs. Shirley (Britt) Dysart – 1945
Mrs. Grace (Dever) McManus – 1938
Helen E. Crowley – 1920
Mrs. Agnes (LaRiviere) Keating – 1930
Dr. Monica Mooney – 1939
Ruth M. Tobin – 1940
Mrs. Shirley (Britt) Dysart – 1945
Mrs. Anna (Peterson) George – 1945
Mrs. Alice (Lenihan) Montague – 1939
Mrs. Mona (McDermott) Duffie – 1940
Carey A. Ryan – 1966
Lynne Montague – 1964
Mrs. Rosemary (Trainor) Lahey – 1956
Mrs. Joan (Doherty) Grant – 1969
Mrs. Missy (McPherson) Boyne – 1971
Mrs. Mary Anne (Creamer) Ketchum – 1972
Mrs. Kathleen (Mooney) MacDougall – 1940
Mrs. Nancy (Creamer) Ervin – 1977
Marijke Blok – 1979
Cheryl Doiron – 1962
Mrs. Martha (Barry) Zed – 1972
Mrs. Charlene (Boyle) Hayes – 1977
Mrs. Donna (Holding) Schroeter – 1964
Mrs. Janet (McNulty) Donahue – 1971
Sister Mary Ann Maxwell – 1960
Marilyn A. Upton – 1968
Susan K. Moore – 1993
Suzanne (Stephen) Buckley – 1984
Greta (LeBlanc) Rogers – 1991
Maureen (Sears) Hanlon – 1988
Anne Marie (Leahy) Ahearn – 1976