Holy Cross celebrates past and present

John, Jackson and Matt Kelly are three of four generations to attend Holy Cross College Ryde. Photo: Kitty Beale

John, Jackson and Matt Kelly are three of four generations to attend Holy Cross College Ryde. Photo: Kitty Beale

Memories have surfaced during Holy College Ryde’s 125th anniversary for three of the four generations of the Kelly family who were educated there.

Year 9 student Jackson Kelly’s parent teacher interview to set learning goals for 2016 proved a great opportunity for his father, Matt, and grandfather, John, to reminisce about their own time at the College.

“I asked ‘Did you want to walk around the school?’ and every metre almost there was a new story,” Jackson said. “They just shared funny stories of teachers and mucking up sometimes.”

The family’s relationship with Holy Cross began with Jackson’s great-grandfather Jim Kelly who attended in 1924. His wharf-labourer father moved the family to Ryde from inner-city Paddington when Jim developed a respiratory illness.

Both John and Matt began their Holy Cross education at the now-defunct St Charles Borromeo preparatory school attached to the College – John in 1960, and Matt as a Year 5 student in 1985.

“The connections, friendships and camaraderie I’ve got out of the school is fantastic,” Matt said.  “When I was growing up Dad made it very clear that I was the third generation to come here. With Jackson I really wanted to continue that tradition.

“Sport was always heavily associated with Holy Cross and I played Rugby League when I was here. We’d gone beyond slate and slate pencils, but I believe the internet was only invented when I was in Year 11. Doing assignments there was the blackboard, teacher, pen and paper, and you’d go to the library and check out a book. Now, particularly with that new block and the technical building, it looks like a university to me.”

You were expected to step up to the mark, to be diligent, to defend the faith and to do the best for your fellow man.

– John Kelly

Matt said a sense of family and belonging were part of the Holy Cross legacy, with uniforms, discipline and the quality of teaching helping to shape it.

Jackson agrees.  “What binds us together is I think all of those things and sportsmanship too,” he said. “At Holy Cross we have to help out everyone. The other day it was 40 degrees, and we sat up on the hill and cheered for our footy team that was in the grand final.”

Resilience wasn’t an education buzzword when John walked through the College gates in 1960, but he credits his Patrician education for instilling the quality in him.

“The Brothers would give life lessons – philosophy and morals – equipping the young lads for going forward in a tough world,” he said. “You had the input to give you courage, expertise, training, and awareness of how to handle everything from high achievements to tragedies.

“Part of the outtake from the formation process at Holy Cross was you were expected to step up to the mark, to be diligent, to defend the faith and to do the best for your fellow man.”

John introduced himself to staff as the new president of the College’s Parents & Friends Association during Matt’s time at the College by reading his high school character reference. It was penned by Br Mark Ryan, who described him as “an honest and trustworthy boy”, in 1968.

Br Mark has also had a long association with Holy Cross, as a student, principal and current support.

Sent to the boarding school in 1944, he celebrated his 10th birthday there. He excelled at Science, completing a degree in Industrial Chemistry before joining the Patrician Brothers in 1959. As principal of the College, he saw it grow. “North Ryde blossomed out,” he said. “In those years the school went from a population of about 120 borders and a few day boys to about 900 students.”

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