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Centenary Reunion At St Clement’s, Galong NSW

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The spirit of Ned Ryan would have been pleased. Ned was the Irish convict and later land-owner of what is now St Clement’s, Galong NSW. He was noted for his generous and abundant hospitality. In fact, at one stage, he had one of his men prepare a sheep per day for visitors and travellers as there were so many to feed.

Almost 80 former Juvenists, spouses and Redemptorists gather at St Clement’s from 20 – 22 April 2018 to celebrate the centenary of St Clement’s. They came from the USA, New Zealand and almost every state of Australia as well as the ACT.

St Clement’s was founded in 1918 as a secondary school, called a Juvenate, for teenagers and young men who aspired to become Redemptorists. It officially closed in 1975 through lack of numbers.

There have been a number of reunions at St Clement’s for former Juvenists and spouses. They began in 1992 through the foresight of Fr Keith Teefey CSsR.

Almost 80 former Juvenists, spouses and Redemptorists gather at St Clement’s from 20 – 22 April 2018 to celebrate the centenary of St Clement’s.

The level of conversation on the Friday evening, both in the dining room and afterwards, spoke volumes of the spirit of those who gathered. Reminiscences, stories, laughter and renewed friendships were the order of the weekend. Noted historian and writer, Fr Max Barrett CSsR, sent a Reverie of what Galong meant to so many and those who made it so.

One of the organisers, Louis Magee (Galong 1959-1963), unearthed the astonishing story of one of the earliest Juvenists. He noted that St Clement’s is the only educational establishment outside England which can boast of an alumnus who earned an Order of Lenin medal in WW2. Henry Neville Gynes Ramsbottom-Isherwood was a New Zealander who, after leaving Galong, later joined the RAF and, as a Wing Commander, helped the Russians in their survival fight against the invading Germans. He died in an aircraft accident in 1950.

Former Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, Hon Tim Fischer, and his wife, Judy, came for the celebrations. Provincial Edmond Nixon CSsR welcomed all to the reunion and introduced Mr Fischer who was the guest speaker. He spoke about various aspects of his life and his interests. Members found it ‘riveting and inspiring,’ including his time in Rome as Australia’s first resident Ambassador to the Vatican.

Entering the ‘Castle’ for the Reunion dinner on the Saturday evening was like entering a fairy land. The place was aglow with subdued lighting and candles on tables and window sills. Ned Ryan’s face beamed down from the wall at the sumptuous meal. A former Juvenist later referred to the ‘plenteous refection’ of the weekend. Another organiser, Brian Daly, MC'd the ‘Crows’ Concert afterwards. This included communal singing from past musicals as well as former Juvenists reciting poetry or singing or playing music.

Former Juvenist and much later Provincial, Michael Gilbert, delivered a powerful and thought-provoking homily at the Centenary Reunion Mass on the Sunday. After morning tea, participants said good-byes to renewed friends and made their way home. It had been a weekend of abundant grace.