Derek Wal­cott joins Sa­mar­i­ans in 125th An­niver­sary Cel­e­bra­tion

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By

TToni Ni­cholas he Saint Mary’s Col­lege, the is­land’s old­est school for boys, is cur­rently mark­ing the 125th an­niver­sary of its 1890 found­ing. Last Sun­day, hun­dreds of ‘old boys’, as well as cur­rent stu­dents, con­gre­gated at the Mi­nor Basil­ica in Cas­tries for an af­ter­noon ser­vice to mark the oc­ca­sion. Also in con­spic­u­ous at­ten­dance were once upon a time stu­dent and No­bel prize win­ner Derek Wal­cott, and for­mer prin­ci­pal Michael Mon­de­sir; politi­cians Guy May­ers, Shawn Ed­ward and Des­mond Long. So were se­nate pres­i­dent Claudius Fran­cis; for­mer prime min­is­ter Stephen­son King; and the gover­nor gen­eral Dame Pear­lette Louisy.

Also a for­mer Sa­mar­ian, Mon­signor Pa­trick An­thony led the mass. He con­grat­u­lated cur­rent St. Mary’s prin­ci­pal Rohan Seon, his staff and stu­dents. “When St. Mary’s Col­lege opened on 20 May 1890,” he said, “it was blessed with a Eucharis­tic cel­e­bra­tion. When the sec­ond Mo­ment be­gan on 22 March 1947 it be­gan with a Eucharis­tic cel­e­bra­tion with Fa­ther Har­cot. It is no co­in­ci­dence, but through di­vine prov­i­dence and what St. Mary’s stands for and sym­bol­izes, that we again begin this 125th cel­e­bra­tion with a Eucharis­tic cel­e­bra­tion. What a beau­ti­ful day to have the cel­e­bra­tion: on the feast of the As­cen­sion.”

He ex­plained that Mary is what the col­lege is all about, and why faith is so im­por­tant to what it stands for: “If to­day we can say proudly that the first two na­tional he­roes, Sir Ge­orge Charles and Sir John Comp­ton, were Sa­mar­i­ans; if we can say that our No­bel Lau­re­ates and so many oth­ers who have achieved like Sir Darnley Alexander, Sir Vin­cent Flois­sac, Sir Dun­stan St. Omer were Sa­mar­i­ans; then we have to ask why is it that this in­sti­tu­tion is able to pro­duce men who have global stature . . . who have blos­somed into global spir­its. There was that un­der­ly­ing prin­ci­ple which Fa­ther Tapon al­ways main­tained and it is this: if you want to de­velop a coun­try, if you want to de­velop a so­ci­ety, if you want to make men and women who will be noble and great, they must be grounded in faith; they must be men and women of God; they must be grounded in spir­i­tu­al­ity. That was the guiding spirit.”

Ac­cord­ing to An­thony, it is not enough to learn to read and write. The “whole man” had to be ed­u­cated. He cited “Mary be­com­ing the ves­sel to de­clare the glory of God through Je­sus Christ.” This was the rai­son d’etre be­hind the school and its homage to Mary, he added. “Why the name Mary? Be­cause the hu­man be­ing through whom God made his son come to re­veal who he was, and who we are through bap­tism, came through that cho­sen hu­man be­ing to show other hu­man be­ings that their po­ten­tial is bound­less.”

The priest also called for re­flec­tion on the life and work of an­other Sa­mar­ian, Dun­stan St. Omer, who passed two weeks ago and whose art work adorns the walls on the church.

Sun­day’s church ser­vice was fol­lowed by a march around the Derek Wal­cott Square. The pro­ces­sion was led by the Royal Saint Lu­cia Po­lice Band fol­lowed by present stu­dents bear­ing their re­spec­tive House ban­ners. Many ‘old boys’ who an­chored the march wore the school colours—black and white. Some also wore the school tie and crest.

There was then a mass gath­er­ing of past and cur­rent stu­dents, teach­ers, par­ents and well-wish­ers when house reg­is­ters were signed and EC$125 pledges were made to­ward a le­gacy fund. The gover­nor gen­eral also laid a wreath at the ceno­taph in hon­our of Sa­mar­i­ans who have passed. An an­i­mated Teddy Fran­cis (past stu­dent and teacher of SMC) con­ducted the pro­ceed­ings that in­cluded a short pre­sen­ta­tion by Lee­vie Herelle who heads the an­niver­sary com­mit­tee. The af­ter­noon saw lots of in­ter­ac­tion among old friends, some be­ing called to the stage in or­der of the decade they grad­u­ated. Some were ex­cited, oth­ers ap­peared hes­i­tant, for what­ever rea­sons. The singing of the school an­them and the many photo op­por­tu­ni­ties made for an un­for­get­table oc­ca­sion.

A se­ries of fol­low-up events is planned un­der the theme “The SMC Jour­ney: 125 years of Stew­ard­ship and Ex­cel­lence.” A doc­u­men­tary of the school’s his­tory will be pre­sented in the form of a timeline, as well as a VIP fundrais­ing event dubbed “SMC - Fes­tive Food, Wine, Float and Cheese So­cial,” in hon­our of the school’s tuck shop tra­di­tion.

Also present at Sun­day’s cel­e­bra­tion was Veronique Alexander, af­fec­tion­ately known to Sa­mar­i­ans as “Mum.” She op­er­ated the school’s can­teen for more than four decades.

“Ole boy” Claudius Fran­cis and GG Dame

Pear­lette Louisy.

SMC stu­dents proud to be in the com­pany of Derek Wal­cott at the Square named af­ter him.

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