J = St Joseph Catholic School

The Catholic school I attended as a child looms large in my past.

In the 1960s, St Joe’s was run by the nearby convent of nuns – a group of strict and humourless disciplinarians. There were two Sisters in particular who earned a permanent place in my memory for the deep-rooted fear they inspired – Sister Lucie, my piano teacher, and Sister Bernadette, the Principal of St. Joe’s.

Sister Bernadette was a tiny mite of a woman – even by a child’s standards – but she was no less formidable for her diminative size. She was legendary for her prolific use of the leather strap for offences both real and implied.  It was my goal to ensure Sister Bernadette never knew of my existence.

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School photo – 1964

On the other hand, Sister Lucie knew me very well and I was convinced she had a particular dislike for me.  It might have just been a product of my overactive imagination or – on the other hand – quite real, maybe due to my complete lack of any musical ability.

In addition to a Saturday morning lesson, practices after school at the convent were mandatory. More than a few times I was on the receiving end of a tongue lashing from the angry Sister or the sharp edge of a ruler rapped across my knuckles when I made mistakes. Did I mention my complete lack of musical ability?

On one occasion I actually wet my pants rather than ask for permission to use the washroom.  That managed to endear me even more to my stern piano teacher.

Is it any wonder I’ve carried around a never-ending need for approval?

J

April A to Z Challenge 2015

Thank you for visiting today.  Please have some Jelly Roll before you go.

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image21760355

Image from cakechooser.com

 

 

About Joanne Sisco

Retired but not idle. Life is an adventure - I plan to continue to embrace it.
This entry was posted in A-Z Challenge - 2015, Memories and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

79 Responses to J = St Joseph Catholic School

  1. jannatwrites says:

    I’m not sure I would have survived Catholic school (having a couple of teachers my brother primed before me was bad enough, haha.) Now that jelly roll is something I could go for 🙂

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  2. Pingback: P = Perils in Public Speaking | My Life Lived Full

  3. I think we may have had the same hairdresser as kids! I went to many different schools growing up but none of them in the catholic system – glad you survived and thrived.

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  4. I swear we went to the same school, Joanne. It’s just one band of nuns on the hunt to scar small unsuspecting children for the remainder of their lives. We were never allowed to ask questions of any sort, as they were a black mark against our faith. Curiosity was beaten right out of us. Poor children. I’m so glad to see you escaped and can still find joy enough to smile, because maybe you remember, but smiling back then meant you were up to no good. Ugh.
    Loved your bob. Totally suited your face. 🙂
    Also, I just wanted to say thank you for the beautiful words you wrote on my post today. It is clear we have traveled many of the same roads, and it feels so comforting to share some of life’s more complicated and unexplainable moments with others who are so like-minded. Your words are ones I always look forward to, Joanne. And today’s meant more than you probably know. Cheers

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    • joannesisco says:

      Thanks Shelley. I thought about your post for a very long time last night. As parents, it touches us very deeply … and we never stop worrying.

      Sometimes I wonder if our strong inner core is because of our Catholic schooling or in spite of it 😉

      Like

  5. Zambian Lady says:

    Catholic high schools are very popular with both kids and parents as kids get some of the best results in the country. The kids may not the strict discipline but they just love the results.

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  6. Heyjude says:

    Jelly roll? Swiss roll. Can I have some cream in mine please…
    Love the photo, don’t love the nuns 😦

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  7. mickscogs says:

    We had a Sister Carlotta. She old, little and wore John Lennon glasses. We all called her Granny Dynamite. A mate of mine spat once and she said “pick that up” She made him do it.

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  8. Pixie says:

    Glad they were not able to break your kindheartedness. I love the snackie treats you share with us too. I have no experience with Catholic school, that’s a blessing I think. I have enjoyed getting to see your historical photos, thanks for sharing them.

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    • joannesisco says:

      Thanks Pixie – it has often felt a bit awkward sharing details of my life. The kind response I’ve received has made it a lot easier 🙂
      Glad you’ve enjoyed the treats. I’m enjoying sharing my sweet tooth too!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Ah yes, Sister Mary Sadistic. How well I remember her. And Joanne, we all have these photos lurking in our photo albums. Do you remember taping your sideburns to the side of your face for the Florence Henderson look? OMG, what were we thinking. I think you were adorable, by the way.

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    • joannesisco says:

      LOL!! I’m going to have to remember Sister Mary Sadistic!! I’m shocked at how many people have commented on having similar experiences! Yet another example of how we think we’re alone in the world – but we aren’t!

      I have done all manner of indignities to my hair over the years … including taping it down, perming it, rainbow colours, feathers, and I even had it shaved once. Now I’m just happy I still have some 😉

      Thank you for thinking I was adorable. My little sister was considered the *cute* one. I was considered the *smart* one. It kind of falls in the same category as “she has a nice personality” 😉

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  10. Mrs. P says:

    As a teacher, I have heard of so many students being berated and beaten in school. It saddens me and shocks me that in some cultures this is still acceptable. I think this kind of education brings about fear and it is such a waste. There is so much joy that can be achieved by learning something new. And one of the greatest rewards of teaching is seeing the passionate spark of a student delighted about some aspect of the learning discovery. When students bubble with enthusiasm about a story they just read…I am sorry that so much of yours was filled with pain.

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    • joannesisco says:

      The school system has changed a lot in the past 50 years – some of it for the better, some of it worse.
      If it’s one thing I’ve learned in my career as a people manager, it’s that people will rise or fall to your level of expectation. I think that philosophy is compounded when dealing with children.

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  11. Sorry I’m late! Mineral show, you know.
    I’ll never forget the time I heard someone refer to himself as a “recovering Catholic.” I think you can relate, yes?

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    • joannesisco says:

      Hope you’re enjoying the Mineral show and getting out a bit to enjoy this glorious weather 🙂

      I can definitely relate to the sentiment. I tend to think of myself as a *fallen* Catholic. I have fallen by the wayside and have no intention of trying to rejoin the crowd 🙂

      Like

      • You fallen woman, you. No wonder I like you!

        The first day at a mineral show is usually our best. The hard core/die hard collectors are there busting down the doors. Plus for the non-jewellery types, we have very little competition in the rare specimens department. No exception yesterday. Today, I think will be long. The weather is going to be our main competition. I will find some time to walk around the quarter mile track once or twice.

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  12. How are you supposed to be a musician with swollen knuckles? My next door neighbours went to Catholic school and I always pitied them missing out on my high school experience . Turns out I was justified!

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  13. We had a St Joseph’s up the street when I was growing up but it was an all boys school founded by the Christian Brothers (who have not come up well in the recent abuse scandals engulfing the Catholic Church, I might add). My brother and I were bullied mercilessly by the boys from this school on our way home from school. To this day, I can’t pass a boy in that school uniform without feeling sick. Someone actually asked me the other day why I didn’t consider sending my boys to Joey’s (as it is known) and I nearly shouted at her, “Are you joking??”

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  14. Lorrie says:

    I grew up on my mother’s Catholic school horror stories. Gives me the shivers.
    Nice visiting you on the A-Z!

    http://shrinkrapped.com/

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  15. DonnaMcDine says:

    Sister Steven was our principal. Her stare still gives me chills!

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  16. M-R says:

    Can’t fit it in – still chomping on the ice-cream cake thinggy. Thanks anyway 🙂
    I attended – as did all my sisters – the one catholic school all my young life; 12 years, I believe it would’ve been. Never did I see a nun raise a hand, let alone an object, to a student: it would never have been THOUGHT of. Emotional blackmail was the punishment of choice, and it worked every time.
    I suspect that the Loreto nuns, being created as a teaching order, knew better than to use force; whereas many schools were run by orders who were actually developed (so to speak) for other porpoises – good deeds, orphans, fallen girls, etc. – and never really knew about teaching.

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  17. I remember a teacher who carried a long ruler with a rock taped to the end! This was in a public school. That was a very long time ago, and I never remember him using it, but the fear that it inspired surely kept the class quiet! Not that I think it was a good idea, but oh my, in today’s world he would be jailed or at the least fired!

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    • joannesisco says:

      You are absolutely right. We didn’t think twice about getting whacked at school … or the threat of it. Today that would be unheard of!
      I am appalled at the thought of a ruler with a rock at the end. Having been hit with a ruler more times than I care to remember, the thought makes my blood run cold 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  18. NancyTex says:

    My husband has similar horror stories on the nuns at his Catholic school in the 70s. Unbelievable how sadistic some of those “righteous” women were. Sad.

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    • joannesisco says:

      Sad indeed. I thought it was just my bad opinion until the really horrible stories involving priests started to surface many years later. The Catholic church is very broken.

      Like

  19. Sue Slaght says:

    The similarities continue Joanne. Those nuns scared me senseless. Yes I think understandable that the experience continues to influence you all these decades later.

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  20. Phil Taylor says:

    Isn’t every Catholic school named St. Joe’s? My kids went to Catholic school for a few years but then I wised up and got them out before the psychological damage was permanent.

    Like

    • joannesisco says:

      LOL! I did too because at the time, the only nearby school offering education in french was a Catholic school … but thankfully it wasn’t run by nuns or priests!

      By the time they reached grade 6-7, education in french was offered in the nearby public school as well. Then I had them transferred.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. pike says:

    What a nice picture of you!

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  22. Why were some nuns so mean? Was it a power trip or their own unhappiness or frustration?
    We had nuns at Our Lady of Fatima. They smelled of lemons. One, the principal, never cracked a smile and everything was a drama where she was concerned. The other one had a cute dimple and smiled enough for the both of them.

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  23. Mike says:

    You were a VERY cute girl. My guess is you had no sense of that, given the terror of the nuns.

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  24. treerabold says:

    I’m not sure I could have survived Catholic school.
    I have real issues understanding how abuse and violence are part of the Christian teaching. There are so many ways the Bible has been used to bully people throughout history….I believe catholic school is one of those ways!!
    Great post though 🙂

    Like

    • joannesisco says:

      OMG – I couldn’t agree with you more! My experience in my 50-some years is that those who talk the most about ‘Christian’ values are those who least exhibit them 😦
      I parted ways with organized religion a very long time ago.

      Liked by 1 person

  25. I didn’t go to a Catholic school, (which probably would have been kind of weird anyway cause I’m Jewish, ha, ha) but have heard stories of how strict the teacher’s can be. I wonder why? We did have a math teacher who was pretty strict. We had to color in these geometric shapes and she was very strict about coloring in the lines. One girl used to throw up before her class every time. (I hope I didn’t tell you this story before. I know it put it in someone’s comments…). Anyway, isn’t it terrible that these feelings of inferiority can stick with us all our lives?

    Liked by 1 person

    • joannesisco says:

      Exactly! The psychological damage inflicted in primary school should be a crime!

      I should mention that there was one Jewish family in our town with a daughter around my age. She was the only one exempt from the religious studies and regular masses at the church. I was intensely jealous of her. I didn’t know what Jewish was, but it had to be WAY better than being Catholic 😉

      For reasons I now understand very well, her parents eventually transferred her to the public school 🙂

      Like

  26. Ah, the joy of a Catholic school upbringing!! 🙂 Brings back scary memories and some fun ones. Love your posts!

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    • joannesisco says:

      Anyone I’ve ever talked to with an upbringing in a Catholic school has their own version of the ‘reign of terror’.
      I can’t say I have any ‘fun’ memories of school from those days.

      Like

  27. lovetotrav says:

    What a sad beginning to your education. Fear based learning… makes you really want to learn, not! Cheryl

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    • joannesisco says:

      I wonder how much fear based learning still goes on in the school system today?

      Luckily I was a bright kid, loved learning new stuff, and did well in school … but I still have a deeply ingrained fear of failure – thank you Sister Lucie :/

      Quite frankly though, given half a chance, I would go back to school in a heartbeat 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  28. sinewavelife says:

    Your A-Z posts are so fun, and I love the old photos! The Girl Guide photo was fantastic! You’re such a good writer. I hope you’re working on a book of your memoirs!

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  29. Wow. Now I never would’ve put this whole Catholic-school thing with you! You are just full of surprises. In another realm….just wanted to say, one of my favourite parts of these posts with pix of you back in the day is the clothes you were wearing…..OMG, it’s really amazing how much things have changed in the course of half a lifetime!

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    • joannesisco says:

      LOL! Revisiting some of the fashions from the past has been outright scary. I’m resisting the urge to completely erase the 80s 🙂

      Most of my clothes as a child were made by my mother – including that dress – which I hated. It’s funny that none of my school pictures as a child were saved by my mom – except that one which I always hated! Mothers! 😉

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      • One of my mother’s favourite school pics of me as a child is the year she gave me a perm the day before picture day. Needless to say, it’s probably the picture I abhor the most! Still, it is funny now…..wasn’t then, but I can chuckle about it a little bit now.

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  30. Lynn says:

    I have heard so many stories about nuns teaching in Catholic schools who were such disciplinarians & quite frankly, miserable. This always struck me as odd. Causing a child to literally wet themselves for fear of be reprimanded for having to go to the bathroom? Seriously, that “teacher” needs therapy!

    Liked by 1 person

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