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 1902-1904
Mrs. Katherine E. (O’Neil) DeGrasse Charter 1904-1906
Elizabeth F. McInerney Charter 1906-1908
Isabelle Reed 1899 1908-1910
Ellen T. Reed Charter 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 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-

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