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Anglican Foundations
Carry St Mary's to
Centenary Milestone

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Anglican Foundations Carry St Mary's to Centenary Milestone

by The Revd Richard Pengelley | Chaplain

From its foundation in 1921, St Mary’s Anglican Girls’ School has been proud of its Anglican heritage. In St Mary’s wonderful Centenary book, A Place to Grow, author Richard Offen wrote, ‘It was only through the vision, drive and sheer hard work of one man that the Church of England Girls’ School, St Mary’s West Perth did not become a ‘nine-day wonder’, as did many small schools started in the first decades of the 20th century. That man was the newly appointed Rector of St Mary’s West Perth, The Reverend Charles Lawrence Riley’.

With the help of another member of his parish and St Mary’s School board member, the remarkable Edith Cowan OBE, Riley laid the foundations for the school we know today. From chapel attendance in the old St Mary’s West Perth, serving the community with ‘Willing Shilling’ drives and taking children from a local orphanage on picnic days in the 1920s and 30s, the School’s Anglican Christian values, ethos and practice have been central to all that we do. Even the School hymn and prayer have been used since 1921, which forms a lovely connection to our predecessors.

Things might look a little different these days, but our Anglican foundations remain. The ‘new’ school chapel, which was consecrated in 1981, contains four stained glass windows from the original St Mary’s parish in West Perth. Girls attend chapel on a weekly basis in the Junior School and fortnightly in the Senior School, with many special celebrations. An annual whole school Patronal Eucharist is held to honour Jesus’ mother, Mary, after whom we are named. This, and the annual confirmation and welcome to first communion service, are always presided over by a bishop, reminding us of our close ties to the wider Anglican Diocese of Perth. Other special services include Old Girls’ Day, Grandparents’ Day, Anzac and Remembrance Days, a Junior School Easter service with a donkey, Holy Week, All Souls, Ash Wednesday, Ascension Day, and a Year 12 ‘Stations of the School’ service.

St Mary’s also continues to serve the wider community in a variety of ways, with our Year 10 Anglicare Ambassadors playing a prominent role. This year, they will be making a video for the national Anglican Schools Association conference on a homelessness awareness event and sock collection drive, as well as their usual fundraising sleep-out.

We hope that our service trips to remote Indigenous communities will recommence soon and we long for the day when we can reconnect with some of our favourite international groups, such as the Cambodian Children’s Fund. All of this is based upon the example of Jesus who came, ‘not to be served, but to serve’.

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