Past Pupil’s Association

"I'm an All Hallows' Girl"… Always.

The Past Pupils’ Association began in 1925. The feature article from the Past Pupils’ Annual Newsletter of 2000, “I’m an All Hallows’ Girl Always” gives an outline of the Association over the years.

For many reasons, the year 2000 was recognised as special. For our Association, it signified our 75th Year. What stories do we share of these years?

While we do not have a 1925 record, we learn from the 1926 Annual School Report that 'The Past Pupils' Association has been formed on a sound basis and the teaching staff has every reason to be proud of the loyalty and devotion manifested by this numerous body of past pupils toward their school'.

Our first School Magazine, 1933, gives more detail and I quote at some length:
'The All Hallows' Past Pupils' Association was formed by the late Rev. Mother Patrick in 1925, its object being to promote the religious, moral, intellectual, and social welfare of the members; to foster and maintain a spirit of union and friendship between all Past Pupils; and to give members an opportunity of taking part in active charity. The foundation office-bearers were:- President, Mrs. T.R. McKenna; Vice President, Mrs. J. Devoy; Hon. Secretary, Miss E. Monzel; Hon. Treasurer, Mrs. J. P. Gralton.

The activities of the Association are as follows:

From successive School Magazines, as well as from Minutes of Committee Meetings and the Annual Newsletter, we discover the popular activities of the different eras.

The original Annual Retreat went from Friday evening until Mass on Monday morning. By the 1960s, there was a weekend Retreat for the younger members, often at Ave Maria Centre, Coorparoo and a Reflection Day for the older members. In 1973, an Annual Retreat was still on the Calendar of events. I have not found mention of the Retreat after that, so perhaps 1973 was the last year in which one was offered. For many years, the Annual Mass for deceased members was held around the feast of Our Lady of Mercy, 24 September. In 1976, it was moved to "the Saturday afternoon nearest to All Hallows' Day". This continues to be its usual time.

The Annual Ball was a highlight of the Association's Calendar over many years. The 1934 Magazine speaking of the Annual 'Dance' said
'A novel feature this year was the fact that for the first time at the Association's Dance there was a debutant, Miss Betty Walsh. … Betty is teaching in the Wowan district and was unable to attend the Mater Ball, at which most of her friends made their bow, so it was indeed fortunate that school holidays coincided with the Association Dance'.

Maybe the Mater Ball became smaller after that, for from 1936, debutantes featured at our own Ball. The number of debs varied from 11 or 12 in those early years to an astounding 105 in 1949, from an average of 20 or 30 in the 1950s and 60s, to 53 in 1970, with 'only three this year' in 1978.

In 1934, Betty travelled from Wowan to be at the Dance. Among the 34 debs in 1965, was "Julie Hall who came from Sydney to make her debut at the All Hallows' Ball." Do you know of more of these 'specials'? No doubt, each deb felt special in her own way on her night. Whether she was one of the trio in 1978, or one of the 105 of post-war 1949, and whether the Venue was the Trocadero, the City Hall, Cloudland, the Bellevue Hotel, the Lennons Convention Hall, the Park Royal or somewhere else, when the night arrived it held its own memories.

Early Reunions were gatherings of past pupils from any year. At them, entertainment combined with chatter and refreshments. Travel talks, Dramatic Society acts, musical items, lively debates, bridge games and more - all helped to unify the members. One Reunion each year was special. It was the Children's afternoon, when the next generation was entertained with see-saws, ponies, magicians or other 'goodies', while their mothers enjoyed afternoon tea and a chat. The 1992 Magazine reminds us that reunions now are mostly Class or Year Reunions which are
'great occasions for catching up on old friends and also of letting the school know just what paths All Hallows' girls have taken since they left their Alma Mater. Not even the biggest crystal ball …could have foreseen just where each group would have ended up ten years later.'

These are certainly gaining in popularity with many held each year. We also know of, but sometimes do not hear reports from, regular Reunions that take place outside of Brisbane. It is good that the tradition begun in Mackay many years ago continues in so many towns.

In 1925, Mother Patrick was organising the building of the Mater Children's Hospital. Therefore, this became the earliest reason for fulfilling the aim - 'to give the members an opportunity to take part in active charity'. A Sewing Guild which began at that time continued as a separate group until fairly recently. During the war, the War Effort was supported. Since then, most fund-raising efforts have been directed towards providing amenities for the school. This currently includes funding Class Reliability Prizes for Year 12s and prizes for the Creative Arts Festival. Special projects since 1990 are the Sr. M. Ronan Fund for students with special financial needs, and the national Mercy Endeavour Australia project for Sisters of Mercy work with refugees.

Over the decades, some adjustments to activities occurred. In 1983, 'because of the difficulties under which Committee members have struggled during the past few years, … it was decided to make the Annual Mass and General Meeting the only activities for 1983.' The future of the Association was considered at that General Meeting. A special effort was made to have as many as possible attend. The Report tells us
'The Meeting agreed that the Aims and structures which had supported the vigorous life of the Association during its first fifty years were no longer appropriate and that the school's heritage of more than 120 years offered a clear focus to promote the revitalization of the Association.'

The present Aims of the Association are the result of the (slight) changes made then.

What are the current regular events for the Association? Drinks on the Terrace in March aims to gather the girls from the most recent decade of past pupils; a fund-raising function for Mercy Endeavour Australia is usually in September and the Annual Mass with General Meeting remains near 1 November. Apart from these, Reunions here and in many other places ensure that All Hallows' past pupils can link regularly.

As I looked through the archival material for our story, I was amazed (and amused) by a copy of an article pre-dating our Past Pupils' Association. It was from the 'Brisbane Courier, 7 August 1900'. It began
A pleasing function took place at All Hallows School on Saturday afternoon, when a reunion of "old girls" was held by the Sisters. The attendance of past pupils was large, and a very pleasant time was spent.'
I wonder, if we shouldn't be celebrating our 100th Birthday?

Whatever Birthday it is, I feel that these words from the 1927 Annual School Report are as true today as ever:
'The Association has done a great deal in bringing together and uniting with bonds not easily broken many different generations of girls who have passed through the school, and it is to be hoped that the union this affected will be productive of great good to all.'

As some of us sang as pupils "May memory recall 'I'm an All Hallows' Girl' ".

Patricia Sullivan RSM
School Archivist

The Committee

President:  Mrs Noela McMullen   3352 3353
Vice President: Mrs Alison Easton 3841 4304
Treasurer  Miss Natalie Rowe   3345 4596
Secretary  Sr Anne Hetherington rsm   3851 3469
School Contact Ms Lenore Thompson 3831 5632


The Corporation of the Trustees of the Order of the Sisters of Mercy in Queensland, trading as All Hallows’ School. CRICOS No. 00485G