St Mark’s Catholic Primary School in Ipswich recalls visit from Mother Teresa as part of 50th anniversary celebrations

Theresa with Maureen Kelway and students in 1970

Theresa with Maureen Kelway and students in 1970 - Credit: Archant

A primary school in Ipswich has recalled a special visit by Mother Teresa in 1970 as it celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

Headteacher Theresa Barker with St Mark�s pupils and some of the Mother Teresa fish quotes

Headteacher Theresa Barker with St Mark�s pupils and some of the Mother Teresa fish quotes - Credit: Archant

St Mark’s Catholic Primary School in Stone Lodge Lane West is marking its golden year with a special mass in June, in which it will celebrate the school’s success.

And among the celebrations will be a special remembrance of Mother Teresa’s visit to the school 36 years ago on October 30, 1970.

“The visit was a huge occasion with hundreds of children and parents filling the school hall,” said school governor Maureen Kelway, whose children Amanda, Andrew and David were pupils at the school at the time.

“I remember Mother Teresa arriving with all the dignitaries and walking down the lines of children and shaking most of them by the hand.

“My son David shook her hand and said to me afterwards ‘she is such a tiny lady’. She was dressed in her blue sari and it was a lovely, lovely occasion and she has such a beautiful smile on her face.”

During the visit, the youngsters gifted the influential nun and missionary with a hand-knitted blanket and an £800 donation from a sponsored walk to Missionaries of Charity, and her visit continues to have a lasting legacy on the school.

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Headteacher Theresa Barker said: “We use St Teresa’s quotes as the themes for some assemblies. The quotes are written on small wooden fish, which is a Christian symbol, and are hidden around the school and in the grounds.

“The children are very proud of the fact that St Teresa came to the school and they love finding the fish and quotes.

“We are consciously trying to ensure that even though St Teresa only came to visit us once, in a very real sense, she is present at St Mark’s every day.”

The school also has a display of pictures from her visit, and a signature in its visitor book in which she said: “I want to thank you all for all you have done and the sacrifices you have made to help our children.

“The money you send gets bread for the children and we would not be able to feed and clothe them and send them to school if you did not walk and raise money for us.”

Ms Barker added: “We feel that the canonisation is a great start to our anniversary school year and is spiritually very powerful for us.

“I think it is wonderful that she has been made a saint, because people who actually met her can still remember her.

“It also reminds us that we too might meet people who become saints and that St Teresa’s example is something we can aspire to.”

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