Spiritual Life

At St Mary’s faith and service are at the heart of the School. St Mary’s Church of England Girls’ School was founded on 14 September 1921 in the Church of England parish in West Perth, by the then Rector of the parish of St Mary’s, The Rev’d C L (Tom) Riley. The Rev’d Riley, later Bishop Riley, was the small school’s first Principal and also Chair of the Board of Governors.

Formal worship, with focus on the Eucharist according to Anglican tradition, is an integral part of the cyclical life of the school. We resolve to maintain and build on our Anglican foundation and Christian values, and girls are reminded, through regular Chapel services and the Religious Studies programme, that this is an Anglican School, and that our philosophy is based upon Christian principles and teaching. Learn more about our school by viewing the Anglican Schools WA Ethos Statement.

Girls of many faiths and beliefs attend St Mary’s and all attend our services, with the Eucharist being central to our community life. Girls from Kindergarten to Year 12 attend Chapel services weekly. In addition, boarders have their own Chapel service each week, and the annual Boarders Grandparents Day always begins with the girls and their grandparents worshipping together. From time to time the boarders also enjoy chapel services with the boarders at Hale School, our brother school, and Guildford Grammar School. There are staff services to mark the beginning of each term and to conclude the school year. As well as the many regular services, special services mark Holy Week, All Souls Day and the approach of Christmas. In August each year, students from Year 3 to Year 12, together with staff, celebrate through the Eucharist, the School’s Patronal Festival, a highlight of the School’s liturgical calendar, as is the annual Year 12 Valedictory Chapel Service.

The School is proud to have Archbishop Kay Goldsworthy as Visitor to the School and to have the Archbishop and Bishops preside over some school services and significant school occasions.

We are members of the West Australian Anglican Schools Association (WAASA) and Anglican Schools Australia (ASA). Our Principal, Mrs Lynne Thomson, is a past President and current National Committee member of ASA. Mrs Judith Tudball, appointed to succeed Mrs Thomson on her retirement at the end of 2018, is President Elect.

The Chapel of Saint Mary

Built and consecrated in 1981, the Chapel is a spiritual place, central to the School. All students and staff attend weekly services there; it belongs to all members of the St Mary’s community.

It is a place of peace and serenity,
A place to give thanks,
A place to reflect,
A place to grieve,
A place to pray,
A place to celebrate,
A place to come together.

Preparation for Baptism, Admission to Holy Communion and Confirmation is available to current students, as well as Old Girls and other members of the St Mary’s community, with a service taking place in May or June each year. Many Old Girls return to the Chapel to be married or to have their children baptised, and our Chapel is, at times, the chosen quiet and beautiful place for funerals of members of the School community. For more information

Our School Chaplain

The Reverend Canon Geraldine Nixon became the full-time Chaplain to the School in July 2009. Rev Gerry is responsible for the ordering of worship in the School and guiding students in their understanding and pursuit of their own faith development. As an important member of our pastoral care team, Rev Gerry is concerned with caring for all members of the St Mary’s community through spiritual guidance and personal support; in particular, the well-being of all the girls is an important focus, and she plays a significant role in the pastoral care of the boarders.

The Chaplain is supported in a part-time capacity by Chaplain Emeritus, The Rev’d Joyce Polson OAM, who joined St Mary’s staff from 1972 and served as Chaplain from 1986 to 1994. Rev Joyce was among the first group of women to be ordained as priests in the Anglican Church of Australia. Archbishop Peter Carnley championed this historic cause and presided at the ordination in 1992.

Student Leadership

Each year, two Year 12 girls, a day student and a boarder, are elected to the position of Chapel Prefect. Their responsibilities include assisting the Chaplain, especially in the planning and organisation of Year 12 services. Each of the Year 12 Community Captains, with the assistance of the Chaplain, also prepares and leads a service based on the theme of a Christian value. In the Junior School several Year 6 girls are appointed each year to form a Chapel Committee, a role which requires them to take an active part in planning and conducting the regular Junior School chapel services.

Cultivating Faith

Religious Studies is included as a subject in the timetables of all the girls from Kindergarten to Year 12. For all girls in the Junior School this is one period per week, while Senior School girls have one period per six-day cycle. The religious studies programmes provide understanding of the development of Christianity and the Anglican Church. In the Junior School, Bible stories are an important focus, while the Senior School programme includes world religions and social justice issues. 

Service to Others

Service to others as an integral part of leading a Christian life is central to the ethos of the School, and there are many programmes and activities to encourage the girls to focus on the lives and needs of others, and to give of themselves, their time, energy and talents.

The Year 7 girls link to St Georges Cathedral to support the hungry and the homeless. Our Year 10 Anglicare Ambassadors work to raise awareness of community needs and social justice issues, with the entire Year 10 group working to alleviate youth homelessness through their sleepover raising funds for Anglicare’s Street Connect. Our Tech Squad assists the elderly residents of Moline House to develop their technology skills, and the Year 12 Respect Committee helps to organise activities marking Sorry Day and NAIDOC Week. The St Mary’s Scotch College India tour and the tour to Cambodia with boys from Christ Church Grammar School aim to raise the students’ awareness of the lives of those living in poverty in those countries, through active involvement and contribution in their communities. St Mary’s girls have also combined with the Christ Church boys to work in aboriginal communities in WA’s Kimberley and Pilbara.

The School Motto, the School Prayer and the School Hymn

The School motto, Fideliter, means faithfully.

The School Prayer and Hymn have been used at St Mary's since the School was first established. The prayer is attributed to Bishop C. L. Riley, the then Parish Priest and School Principal, who also chose the School Hymn.

Prayer
Almighty God, the fountain of all true knowledge and wisdom,
by whose grace this foundation of St Mary's has progressed
and prospered; make this school as a field which you bless,
that whatsoever things are true, pure, lovely and of good report
may here forever flourish and abide. Make it to be loved and
honoured by all its members as an instrument of your glory,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Hymn
Rise in the strength of God
And face life's uphill way.
The steps which other feet have trod,
You tread today.
Press onward, upward still
To win your way at last,
With better hope and stronger will
Than in the past.
Life's work more nobly wrought,
Life's race more bravely run,
Life's daily conflict faced and fought,
Life's duty done.

Words: Ada Rundall Greenaway 1861-1937
Music: Sidney Hugo Nicholson 1875-1947

In an ongoing and significant way, the spiritual life of the School is central to our daily life and purpose.