History Repeating Itself

At Santa Maria College, we are blessed to have many staff who are past students. That they have chosen to return to the College, says a lot about our culture and history.

Below is a lovely story of history repeating itself, between Sister Breda O’Reilly, our Pastoral Minister, and Year 5 teacher and past student, Carolyn Sharp (Holt, 1986).

Sister Breda

Santa Maria was one of the many places I taught in Western Australia. In those days we changed schools quite regularly.  Up to 1979, I had been teaching Years 1 – 3 in many different schools, including a year when I had a Years 1 – 3 class at Santa Maria when we had a primary school here. So, when I returned in 1979, I was delighted to be given a Year 5 class.  Mind you, I did miss the little rascal boys I had in my other classes! This was my second time at an all-girls primary school. It was a bit of a shock to my system to have only girls in my class again. The girls were beautiful, intelligent and keen to learn, so we had a wonderful year together.

1979 was also a year never to be forgotten because it was the year of the big earthquake in Perth.  It was a very scary happening! Everything was tumbling and rumbling and moving. Luckily it was a boarders’ weekend and all the boarders were away.

When I started back at Santa Maria last year as Pastoral Minister, I decided to visit my old classroom. To my delight, I discovered that Carolyn Sharp, the Year 5 teacher, was one of my past pupils from 1979! It’s lovely to see that Carolyn is carrying on the good Mercy Tradition of being an excellent teacher. When I visit her classroom, I can see the girls love their teacher, are really alert, and are tickled by the fact that I was their teacher’s teacher.


Sister Breda is best remembered by my Year 5 class for her guitar playing and dazzling auburn hair. One of her favourite songs she would often play for us was “Hey Sarah do you love Jesus?“, in which Sarah would have to reply “Oh yes I love Jesus”… and the song would continue. We all joined in the chorus and she made sure that we were all included in singing the song. I would hazard a guess that anyone from our Year 5 class could still hum that song today, if not remember all the words to it.  

Sister Breda taught with discipline and routine, yet her laugh would often roll out across the classroom. She had a great sense of humour and would often have a joke with us. She loved to tell a story on any range of topics. She would tell us about her dog, Ireland and of course the stories of when she lived at Santa Maria.

I often think how amazing it is that I now teach Year 5 in one of the classrooms where I was taught by Sister Breda. There may be different uniforms and different furniture, but the same spirit of Santa Maria continues after all of those years. 

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