Remembering Sister Sheila

Many of our alumni fondly remember Sister Sheila Sawle. She was much loved by the students and staff at Santa Maria College.

Her connection to the College started as a student when she was 7 years old. She was in the foundation class of 1938. After graduation, Sheila went on to take her vows as a Sister of Mercy.

She spent the 1950s and 1960s teaching at Victoria Square (now Mercedes College) and returned to Santa Maria in 1970. After a period of time, she was appointed Provincial Leader of the Santa Maria Convent and then to the role of Principal, which she held from 1980 – 1989. Sister Sheila later left to take up the challenge of Executive Officer of the McAuley Family Centre. However, she retained her ties with Santa Maria as a Sister of Mercy representative on the College Board.

Sister Sheila is remembered as an outstanding educational leader. She had great faith in students, staff, parents and friends and urged people to become more than they thought they could ever be. She is fondly remembered for the saying, ‘If it is to be, it is up to me!’ which many alumni, still today, talk about as having been a great impact on their lives.

Sister Sheila appreciated the small things in life and found great joy in gardening. She was also a staunch West Coast Eagles supporter, loved cricket and tennis, and was a competitive Scrabble player.

Sister Sheila was a woman of great intellect, warmth and a positive presence. She had a vibrant personality and an amazing memory that served her well in her storytelling. She was an extraordinary woman who gave much of herself and enjoyed every moment of life. Sheila was such fun to be with. It was her great love for people and her enormous capacity to connect with other people that forged many lasting relationships. She will be remembered for her immense selflessness and deep personal contribution to all circles of Mercy, to her family and to the education of young women.

Sister Sheila passed away on 9 September 2006, with the College community coming together to celebrate her life and legacy in the College Chapel on Thursday 14 September 2006. The College library was named the Sawle Literature & Research Centre in her memory.

Adapted from Vale by former Principal Anne Pitos in the 2006 Summer edition of De La Vida.

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