There was once a Roman Catholic parish church on Main Street in Grand Falls-Windsor, and nearby was a convent and a school.
The church is still standing, but the convent was torn down last year. St. Joseph’s School went the same way after it closed in 1975. In poor condition, it was demolished, and the students went to St. Francis Xavier Academy, now Sprucewood Academy.
There was once nearly 600 students at St. Joseph’s, and despite the loss of their school, their memories and spirit are still alive. Mary Chow, vice-chair of the St. Joseph’s reunion committee, said they are expecting close to 370 former students and teachers for the reunion July 26-29.
“People now are starting to get really excited,” said Chow. “People are realizing, ‘I’m going to miss it, I haven’t registered. This is what we’re hearing now.”
She said the committee was initially expecting about 400-500 people, but is pleased with the numbers they do have.
One of the highlights will be a picnic near the church, on the grounds of what used to be the convent. The site has been landscaped, with grass, trees and flowers placed near the steps – the only relic left – of what used to lead to the entrance of the convent.
Also adding to the sacred ambience of the grounds are the religious statues, formerly in the old buildings, of figures like St. Joseph – the patron of the parish – and the Virgin Mary.
Inside the parish hall, people were working on displays, including a big painting of St. Joseph’s School, painted by Alice Dicks and Gwen Tremblett of the Central Newfoundland Visual Arts Society (CNVAS).sd
“Before, it was just our own town, that is, Windsor,” he said. “It was a small town. Then we went to St. Mike’s and St. Catherine’s, which had students from Grand Falls, Badger, Norris Arm, so it was kind of a melting pot.”
The major events for the reunion are spread out over July 26-29.
Activities include a meet and greet on the first night at Windsor Stadium, followed by a dinner and entertainment on July 27, a Mass at St. Joseph’s Church on Saturday, with more entertainment and finger foods later that evening at the stadium.
During the reunion, the Mass will be offered up for deceased students, including Terry, the late brother of country singer Rod Jackson. Terry was killed when he was hit by a train on the tracks in the former Town of Windsor.
The last day, July 29, is Family Day, with the picnic on the grounds near the church.
The committee also encourages to visit the parish hall to see displays of items and pictures from the school’s history.