St Mary’s chap­lain re­tires

Alpine Observer - - News -

SAINT Mary’s Myrtle­ford Pri­mary School stu­dents paid Bar­bara Nan­nip­ieri a sig­nal honour be­fore Christ­mas – they stopped a game of bas­ket­ball dur­ing re­cess to gather about the much-loved chap­lain for a pho­to­graph.

The chil­dren’s ac­knowl­edge­ment and a spe­cial mass marked Mrs Nan­nip­ieri’s re­tire­ment at the end of a four-decade school ca­reer.

She started teach­ing in 1977 and four years later took a job in the Catholic ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem.

She worked as a prepara­tory teacher with Pre­sen­ta­tion Sis­ters as suc­ces­sive prin­ci­pals and was on staff when the church re­laxed the re­quire­ments for nuns to wear a tra­di­tional habit which sig­ni­fied their re­li­gious or­der.

“I was made to feel so wel­come,” Mrs Nan­nip­ieri said.

“There were a lot of sis­ters teach­ing across the cam­pus and there was a great sense of in­clu­sion.”

She de­scribes her young stu­dents’ emerg­ing un­der­stand­ing of words and of the mo­ments in which they read their first sen­tences as high­lights of her ca­reer.

The Catholic sys­tem later changed and be­gan re­cruit­ing lay prin­ci­pals.

One of these was Colleen Wilkins, who a decade ago in­vited Mrs Nan­nip­ieri to take up the school chap­laincy – part of what is now the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s na­tional school chap­laincy and stu­dent wel­fare pro­gram.

“I was charged to take care of the needs of the chil­dren and I was hum­bled by the trust placed in me and the re­spect shown me,” she said.

Cur­rent prin­ci­pal Ash­ley Marsh said Mrs Nan­nip­ieri had been “fan­tas­tic” and her de­par­ture from the staff would be “a real loss for the school”.

“Bar­bara is one of those peo­ple who can help every­one, re­gard­less of what might be go­ing on with them or with their fam­i­lies,” he said.

“Some­times a kid just wants some­one to talk to.

“Bar­bara has been that per­son and we have been so for­tu­nate to have her with us.”

Mrs Nan­nip­ieri said she had tried in her chap­laincy and wel­fare role to en­cour­age chil­dren to move be­yond what was com­fort­able and to fos­ter in them a keen aware­ness of hu­man dig­nity and so­cial jus­tice.

The St Mary’s School com­mu­nity, staff and Mrs Wilkins were among 60 peo­ple who at­tended a sur­prise din­ner at Lupo’s in recog­ni­tion of Mrs Nan­nip­ieri’s ser­vice.

She was also recog­nised for her work by the Catholic dio­cese of Sand­hurst.

Anne Keplin is to take up the role of school chap­lain.

PHOTO: Jamie Kron­borg

FAREWELL: St Mary’s Myrtle­ford re­tir­ing chap­lain Bar­bara Nan­nip­ieri and prin­ci­pal Ash­ley Marsh with many of the young stu­dents who have come to know and ad­mire her.

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