Brian McPhillips, Pat O'Connor and Michael Fennell with Sr. Jane at their reunion in Knock Basilica.

Students and teacher reunited after 60 years

THREE former students from St. Louis primary school in Rathmines made their way to Knock recently for a very special meeting, a reunion with their old teacher, Sr. Janet Kerverek, 60 years after leaving the Dublin school, writes Mike Byrne.

Former school colleagues Michael Fennell, Pat O'Connor and Brian McPhillips entered St. Louis' in 1954 and for the following four years, were taught by Sr. Janet, now known to her colleagues in Knock as Sr. Jane.

In recent years, having lost contact with each other for many decades, the three Dublin lads reconnected and while reminiscing on their first days at school and recounting stories and teachers from their Rathmines days, the name Sr. Janet consistently came to the fore.

After making a brief phone call to the St. Louis Order's head office, the three amigos were directed to Knock, where Sr. Jane has been living for the past 13 years.

Needless to say, the reunion was one of great joy, of sharing and looking back on old photos from their school years.

After joining in the 12 noon Mass at the basilica, it was on to Knock House Hotel where stories and memories were exchanged. Old school photos were examined and scrutinised as the conversation extended well into the evening.

Sr. Janet entered the Order at a very young age, and after her novice years, aged 19, she took on her very first class, which included Michael, Pat and Brian in Rathmines. Also in that class of 1954 was a young girl who was later to achieve fame as Maxi, of the 1960s singing trio, Maxi, Dick and Twink, who later represented Ireland in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1973.

Having schooled for a number of years, Sr. Janet went to Nigeria where she served the St. Louis Order for 25 years.

Meeting for the first time in 64 years, what struck this writer most of all, as I watched the group reconnect and share their life stories, was the clarity of mind and the great gift of recall which Sr. Jane has after all those years. The school class photo which was presented to her by the boys, she was able to name every person in the lineup, without having to wait for a momentary pause.

A day of nostalgia and great joy that will last among the four friends for many a long year to come.