More than 350 year 7 and year 8 students, staff and governors of St Julie's, Woolton, recently went en masse to Liverpool Hope University Chapel to celebrate an amazing 164 years of Notre Dame education in Liverpool. They were joined by over 30 Sisters of Notre Dame and by the Lord Mayor Erica Kemp – herself a former pupil of Notre Dame, Woolton.
The celebration, held on 27 March, was rousing and thoughtful as participants journeyed back in time to the life of the Sisters' founder St Julie, who escaped from a mob in the French Revolution in a haycart. Had she not fled, life for countless numbers of people would have been very different indeed.
The story of the Sisters of Notre Dame and how they took the 'long and winding road' to Liverpool in 1851 was movingly told through video, drama, dance and song. The congregation was reminded that they truly were standing on the shoulders of giants – including Sister Dorothy Stang SND, murdered 10 years ago for standing up to illegal loggers exploiting the indigenous people of the Amazonian rainforest.
Also present were six former pupils from the same class in Notre Dame, Mount Pleasant, who were marking 75 years since they started their school career while the country was at war. They recalled how, when air-raid sirens sounded, the Sisters took them to the cellars and made them carry on with their work. In their honour, and to their delight, two songs from World War Two were sung, including a fantastic rendition of Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy by Patty, Charlotte and Emma in full army uniform.
In recognition of the worldwide community that the Sisters of Notre Dame have become, there was a parade of flags from the 16 countries where the Sisters still work. The British flag, of course, got the loudest cheer.
A service of commitment then took place whereby all present vowed to continue the outstanding and inspirational work of the Sisters of Notre Dame. Head girl Lea reminded the students of their responsibilities before a vote of thanks was offered by three of the youngest pupils, Olivia, Aimee and Suzanne. The event finished with the congregation joining in The Community Song – complete with actions which left everyone breathless. A day of reminiscing had also been a day to remember.