A Brief History of St. Vincent’s Alumnae Association

Sister Francesca

Sister Francesca – Founder 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.

Annual Reunion Dinner 1967

Annual Reunion Dinner 1967

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

St. Vincent's Graduating Class of 2002

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          1902-1904

Mrs. Katherine E. (O’Neil) DeGrasse
Charter member         1904-1906

Elizabeth F. McInerney
Charter member        1906-1908

Isabelle Reed
1899                          1908-1910

Ellen T. Reed
Charter member       1910-1912

Mrs. Florence (O’Regan) Conlon
1904                      1912-1914

Sister Agatha Gorman (Ethelreda)
1902                        1914-1916

Mrs. Flora (McDonald) McMurray
Charter                   1916-1918

Mrs. Clare (O’Connor) Conlon
1902                       1918-1919

Mrs. Annie (Gosnell) Mooney
1902                      1919-1921

Mrs. Muriel (Corkery) Ryan
1910                        1921-1922

Mary M. Chaisson
1916                      1922-1924

Catherine F. O’Neil
1903                       1924-1926

Mrs. Ella (Stanton) Roderick
Charter member        1926-1928

Kathleen Lundy
1913                         1928-1930

Mrs. Dorothy (Kinsella) Henneberry
1911                           1930-1933

Mrs. Mary (McGuiggan) McCafferty
1903                        1933-1934

Mrs. C. Augusta (Ryan) Fewings
1911                       1934-1935

Emma L. Huestis
1927                       1935-1936

Mrs. Gerarda (Wilson) Keating
1925                      1936-1938

Mrs. Angeline (Lynch) Horgan
1925                       1938-1939

Mrs. Margaret (Burns) O’Brien
1923                      1939-1942

Mrs. Nina (Burns) Poirier
1924                     1942-1943

Mrs. Alice (Dever) Doyle
1929                     1943-1944

Dr. Monica Mooney
1939                     1944-1945

Augusta McGrath
1922                    1945-1947

Mrs. Doreen (England) Sproule
1938                     1947-1948

Mrs. Olive (Parsons) Dawson
1938                    1948-1949

Mrs. Jean (Eldridge) Marry
1941                     1949-1950

Mrs. Shirley (Britt) Dysart
1945                     1950-1951

Mrs. Grace (Dever) McManus
1938                     1951-1952

Helen E. Crowley
1920                    1952-1954

Mrs. Agnes (LaRiviere) Keating
1930                    1954-1956

Dr. Monica Mooney
1939                    1956-1960

Ruth M. Tobin
1940                   1960-1968

Mrs. Shirley (Britt) Dysart
1945                     1968-1970

Mrs. Anna (Peterson) George
1945                     1970-1972

Mrs. Alice (Lenihan) Montague
1939                     1972-1973

Mrs. Mona (McDermott) Duffie
1940                    1973-1975

Carey A. Ryan
1966                   1975-1978

Lynne Montague
1964                  1978-1980

Mrs. Rosemary (Trainor) Lahey
1956                  1980-1981

Mrs. Joan (Doherty) Grant
1969                 1981-1983

Mrs. Missy (McPherson) Boyne
1971                 1983-1985

Mrs. Mary Anne (Creamer) Ketchum
1972                 1985-1987

Mrs. Kathleen (Mooney) MacDougall
1940                1987-1988

Mrs. Nancy (Creamer) Ervin
1977                 1988-1989

Marijke Blok
1979                1989-1991

Cheryl Doiron
1962                1991-1994

Mrs. Martha (Barry) Zed
1972               1994-1995

Mrs. Charlene (Boyle) Hayes
1977               1995-1998

Mrs. Donna (Holding) Schroeter
1964              1998-2001

Mrs. Janet (McNulty) Donahue
1971               2001-2003

Sister Mary Ann Maxwell
1960              2003-2006

Marilyn A. Upton
1968                 2006-2008

Susan K. Moore
1993              2008-2010

Mrs. Suzanne (Stephen) Buckley
1984            2010-2013

Greta (LeBlanc) Rogers
1991           2013-2016

Maureen (Sears) Hanlon
1988          2016-2019

Anne Marie (Leahy) Ahearn
1976         2019 –

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