St Mary’s first Principal among friends in Apia

By Ilia L. Likou ,

1956 Hits

Masiofo Filifilia Tamsese Efi, Sister Emeritiana, the Head of State, Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi, Sister Losalia and Sister Emanuella.

Masiofo Filifilia Tamsese Efi, Sister Emeritiana, the Head of State, Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi, Sister Losalia and Sister Emanuella.

A time to reaffirm our conviction, of the need for this College to continue doing all it can, to offer a high standard of holistic education, that is truly Catholic, and particularly needed in today’s world.”

The first Principal of Saint Mary’s College in 1956, Sister Emeritiana.

While celebrating the past and present achievements since the school was first started, Sister Emeritiana said,  “As I revisit the origins of this college 60 years ago, the image of the little mustard seed comes to mind, the smallest of seeds that grows and grows into a big tree,” Sister Emeritiana said.

“Some mustard trees are bigger than others of course!

“It is a real honour and a joy to be part of the 60th anniversary of the foundation of St Mary’s College in Vaimoso, and I am sure it will be a very enjoyable moment.

Looking back, Sister Emeritiana reminisced with gratitude, the vision held by Bishop Pearce and Mary Rachel and their assistance to Samoa at the time.

“They saw the urgent need, for Catholic secondary education for young Samoan women.

“We salute their vision and courage in bringing it into being. “The land was purchased in Vaimoso by the S.M.S.M. Sisters but a building was needed too. 

“The cost was to be about 30,000 pounds sterling — an immense sum for those days. Alas, there was no money for this! So fundraising was decided on. 

“Masiofo Noué Tamasese was proposed by the Savalalo Parent-Teacher Association to lead it, which she graciously and generously accepted to do, despite all her commitments. 

She added that one of Masiofo Noué Tamasese suggestions was for Bishop Pearce to make an appeal, from the pulpit, to the Catholic carpenters, electricians, plumbers and other tradesmen to offer their services free after their day’s work on weekdays and Saturdays to build the college. 

“Volunteers responded. For months the grounds in Vaimoso rang out in the evenings with the sound of hammers.

“The air was filled with the smell of good food, as wives and daughters provided the evening meals.  

“Such tremendous generosity remains a powerful witness for us. 

“We can be sure that God, who is not outdone in generosity, has richly rewarded such extraordinary efforts.

Sister Emeritiana said the College had its very humble beginnings in Savalalo.

“It was just the beginning when I arrived in May 1956, the College had its very humble beginnings in Savalalo on the Thieme’s property over the road, from the present Savalalo convent. 

 "We moved to Vaimoso in 1958. From the beginning, the vision for this College was for an holistic education. 

“There was the opportunity to acquire the academic and other skills to fit the young women for transitioning  into adult society, but more importantly a formation to enable them to lead good Christian lives.

The Class of 1978.
The Class of 1978.
Amituana’i and Fili.
Amituana’i and Fili.
Fatima Strickland, Diana, Tavu’i Va’a and Ali’imalemanu Lilly.
Fatima Strickland, Diana, Tavu’i Va’a and Ali’imalemanu Lilly.
Maxine Manu’a, Sister Masela and Maria Esera.
Maxine Manu’a, Sister Masela and Maria Esera.
Margaret Ofoia, Leoi Hill and Lonise Tanielu.
Margaret Ofoia, Leoi Hill and Lonise Tanielu.
Koleta Ng Lam, Cleopatra Ah Ben, Jayjay Jayjay and Helen Jayjay.
Koleta Ng Lam, Cleopatra Ah Ben, Jayjay Jayjay and Helen Jayjay.
Old Girls enjoying the night.
Old Girls enjoying the night.
Tuala Fania and Sala Ime
Tuala Fania and Sala Ime
Saint Joseph's College old boys
Saint Joseph's College old boys
Novema Kolo, Pupi Tuiavi'i and Albino Leafa
Novema Kolo, Pupi Tuiavi'i and Albino Leafa
Monica Sio, Elizabeth Taylor and Maua Kolio
Monica Sio, Elizabeth Taylor and Maua Kolio
Katie Umutaua and Anetele'a Ioane
Katie Umutaua and Anetele'a Ioane

“Principals and teachers have come and gone, but we can thank God this ideal remains.

 “In the late l960s, a new and larger building was needed and it was designed in the style of the present one. 

“lt was the time also when the College was enriched in its teaching staff with young volunteer teachers — members of the American Peace Corps, Catholic Overseas Volunteers from the Australia and New Zealand and a few from other countries too.

Sister Emeritiana said that the anniversary is also a time to thank God for all He has done through the teachers, religious and lay, who have given of themselves in Vaimoso, and continue to do so today, through Mrs Loreta Ulugia and her devoted staff. 

“We remember in gratitude, too, all the parents, who sacrificed themselves, and continue to make sacrifices, to give their daughters a Catholic education. 

“St Mary’s College has impacted profoundly on the lives of the young women who have passed through its gates during these past 60 years. 

“They have gone forth into all walks of life, educational, medical, scientific, business, commercial, legal, political, chiefly, and their lives have surely made a difference. Some have become consecrated religious as S.M.S.M. but also in several other religious congregations. 

“I thank God tonight for the mystery of what He has done and continues to do in the life of each one. For the S.M.S.M. Sisters, particularly, this Jubilee is a special time for us to pause and thank God for the strong and committed SMOGA — SMSM who have contributed so much through the years to the ongoing life of church and society, but also so generously to the College. 

“I am mindful also of those who cannot be with us tonight, as well as those who have gone to God. Here in Samoa, there has been a long history of generosity in helping S.M.S.M. schools. 

She also presented the early letters of SMSM Sisters who worked in the Pacific presently and those of Sr Marie Alphonse, who was the first Mamea pule of the SMSM sisters. 

“In one letter, written about I900, she mentions how generous the ex-students of Savalalo were, in helping the present students, when some parents were in financial difficulties, trying to cope with the drop in cocoa and coffee prices. 

“This same spirit of love and generosity is very much alive among our SMOGA today. 

“A Jubilee, of course, is a time to look to the future as well as the past. 

“May the celebration further strengthen our resolve to encourage and support the College in trying to do this. 

“May its motto ‘Agaga Kerisiano’ continue to be lived by teachers and taught, despite human frailties and weaknesses, not only during school years, but beyond. 

“And as the College was from its beginning dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, and bears her name, she is in a special way our mother, queen and model. 

“May she accompany each of us in our particular calling in life.

St Mary’s College 60th Anniversary ended last Saturday night with a Ball. 

© Samoa Observer 2016

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