In September Roma Secondary School in Lusaka, Zambia celebrated it’s Golden Jubilee. Sr Marie Bernadette O’Leary, a former teacher in the school, travelled to Zambia with Srs Bridie Collins and Christina Rankin to join in the celebrations. Below Sr Marie Bernadette recalls the great time had by all and this is followed by a message from Sr Margaret Mary Chileshe the Regional Leader in Zambia – who also happens to be a former pupil, teacher and Deputy Head of Roma School:
In September 1963 Sr Joseph Helen Cunningham started Roma School with a class of thirty girls. Today, fifty years later, we are celebrating the Golden Jubilee of this school. And what a celebration! I was privileged to be among those who were present and it was wonderful to re-visit the school where I had taught from 1968-1980. My companions were Srs Bridie Collins and Christina Rankin both of whom taught in Roma over the years. On arrival at the airport we were greeted by Sr Margaret Mary, Sr Kieran and some of the past pupils. I have been asked to write a paragraph about the celebration, but even if I were to write a book it would be difficult to do justice to it – to convey something of the atmosphere of rejoicing!
Preparations for these days must have been going on for months. Every part of the school and grounds was in festive array, and the motto of our Congregation – ‘The Charity of Christ urges us on’ – was in evidence everywhere we went. Special T-shirts and chitenges had been printed in honour of the occasion; each bearing the logo “Empowering the girl child through quality education”. The pupils, both primary and secondary, were most gracious and very much at ease and it was very evident that Sr Joseph Helen’s dream of ‘empowering the girl child’ had become a reality. The highlight of the celebration was, of course, the Mass. A large marquee had been erected on the netball pitch and was decorated in blue and gold. Here the Mass was celebrated on two days – Friday 20 September and Saturday 21 September.
For the benefit of those who do not know, let me explain that what began as a secondary boarding school is now a day school for both primary and secondary pupils. The dormitories have been converted to classrooms and additional classrooms have been built. So the focus on Friday was on the primary school and on Saturday it was on the secondary school. On both days the liturgy was beautiful! It would be impossible to convey the atmosphere created by the jubilant singing and dancing. It was an unforgettable experience! There were, of course, addresses from various dignitaries, including representatives of the Department of Education and the Catholic Secretariat and the Parent-Teachers Associations of both schools. Lunch was served in due course, followed by entertainment, speeches and Recognition Awards. It is worthy of note that all the visiting dignitaries who spoke made reference to the motto, Caritas Christi urget nos, and how this is the source of inspiration for all those who are carrying on the work of spreading Christ’s love.
After Mass each day those present were invited to tour the classroom area. On the way down to the hall there were large posters with photographs of all the headmistresses throughout the years and this enabled all present to look back in gratitude for the great work that had been done in laying the foundation and passing on the inspiring traditions of the school.
The celebrations were not confined to those two days in fact they had begun beforehand during the preparations and were carried on afterwards and somehow will continue to live on. Surely Sr Joseph Helen is rejoicing with all whose lives have been touched by the teachers and pupils of Roma.
Message from Sr. Margaret Mary Chileshe, RSC (Regional Leader)
(Former Pupil of Class ’70, teacher and Deputy-Head)
Teaching is like dropping a pebble in a pond of water. You can immediately see ripples in that pond. The teacher’s work is completed in the classroom but what she or he communicates to the pupils goes beyond the classroom. It spreads far and wide. The information communicated to the pupils in the classroom is disseminated to the society by the pupils according to their character, personality and disposition. Each of the pupils is unique and so the message portrayed will to a large extent also be unique.
Just think of how much goodness has spread like pebbles making ripples in a pond of water from Roma Girls’ Secondary School. Most teachers’ efforts and good works don’t die. They live on in their pupils for generations. So true is the saying which I will paraphrase as, “The lives of those who have instructed or taught many…..will shine forth like bright stars.” So as we celebrate the Golden Jubilee, the 50 years of quality education in Roma, I pray that the lives of the teachers who have instructed many in this school may shine like bright stars. By talking about the good teaching and fond memories of our teachers, we are making the lives of our teachers shine. But let us not forget that teachers also learn from their pupils. Indeed so many of us learnt a lot from our pupils. I learnt a lot from them not only about the world but also about myself. Therefore I could equally say, “May the lives of all our pupils, past and present shine like bright stars wherever they are.”
I wish the Administration of Roma Girls’ Secondary School, the Academic Staff, the Supporting Staff, the Parent –Teacher Association and all the pupils a very Happy Golden Jubilee and pray for God’s blessings on all your endeavours. I also thank you for your great contribution to Zambia in the field of Education. May Roma continue to prosper in all ways.