The Current Past Students' Union Management Committee
Back Row: Kriss Marcus, Nestor Lambert
Middle Row: Brevard Nelson, Joseph Hadad, Rudy Balwant, Nigel Joseph, Anthony Rojas
Front Row: Enrico Rajah, Roberto Ramirez, Matthew Leach, Kevin Phillips, Louis R. Ramdhanie
The St. Mary's College Past Students' Union was inaugurated on Sunday, August 27, 1933. The proceedings began at 9.00 a.m. with a solemn High Mass in the College Chapel, with His Grace the Archbishop of Port of Spain, Most Rev. Dr. J. Dowling, O.P., D.D., presiding. After Mass, the gathering repaired to what was the "little study", where the meeting to formally establish the Union was held. The meeting was chaired by the Hon. Carl de Verteuil, C.M.G. Various speakers outlined in their addresses, their views on the objects for which the Union was being formed.
The Vicar Provincial, the Very Rev. Fr. T. M. O'Neil, O.P., P.P., in his sermon at the Mass, had remarked that the aims and objects of the Union must be in keeping with the traditions of St. Mary's College. He also stated that the Union must be formed as a mutual help to one another towards teaching a true Christian life and as support to the present generation of students to equip themselves properly for the life before them. The Hon. Carl de Verteuil noted his certainty that the Union would be called upon to do an immense amount of good for Citizens and Society as a whole. The Principal of St. Mary's College, the Very Rev. Fr. J. J. English, C.S.Sp., in referring to the undoubted value of the sentimental aspect of a College Union, said that the roots of real and lasting Union of minds and hearts, are to be found in those early impressions which fashion and ennoble young hearts during school days.
From the practical point of view, he said that mutual support and benefit could only come from uniting. If the Union was to be strong, it must be of practical benefit to its members, above all, its younger members. Hon. Capt. A. A. Cipriani said that the exigencies of the times were driving men into forming a Union for their safety and protection. The alternative to banding together into one solid body in order to claim rights and privileges, was disaster.
The idea of an Old Boys Union was not a new one. Its formation had been precipitated by the staging, by past students on August 20th in the previous year, of a splendid banquet in honour of the visit of the Procurator-General of the congregation of Holy Ghost, the Very Rev. Fr. Emile Salomon, C.S.Sp., D.Ph., D.D. But the need for such a Union, accentuated by the success of this function, was appreciated many years before. There is reference to Mgr. Gonin, who was Archbishop of Port of Spain from 1865 to 1889, thanking the past students, who had shown themselves more than usually generous to the College, for their beautiful gift, presumably the marble High Altar presented in 1882. Also, in 1885, a Past Student's Debating Society was formed, but it did not last very long.
The following were elected as the first officers of the Union:
President - Hon. Carl de Verteuil, C.M.G.
Treasurer - Mr. George C. Pantn
Honorary Secretaries - Messrs. J. T. Gonsalves, R. Vincent-Brown & Hugh G. Mazley.
Committee - Hon. Capt. A. A. Cipriani, Very Rev. J. J. English, C.S.Sp., Hon. (eventually Sir) E. L. Dos Santos, Mr. Michael Hamel-Smith, Mr. Gaston Johnston, Dr. E. Prada, Dr. C. F. Lasalle, Mr. J. E. Seh eult.
By the time of the first Annual General Meeting in 1934, the membership of the Union had grown to 171. At this Meeting, all members of the Management Committee were re-elected, except for Dr. C. F. Lasalle, who was out of the Island and Mr. Michael Hamel-Smith, who had died earlier that year. Dr. A. G. Francis and Mr. Weldon Ramirez were elected to fill their places. The following proposals were approved:
- Once a fortnight, on Saturday afternoons, use of the Library Hall would be allowed to members, from 6.00 p.m. to 10.00 p.m., to play cards, chess draughts etc.
- The formation of a Sports Sub-Committee to organize the College Sports, games among past students and matches between past and present students.
- The setting-aside of a day each year to celebrate "Union Day", with members engaging in various sporting activities and culminating with a concert or smoker.
- Members be invited to participate in the debates organized by the Debating Society of the College.
- The introduction of theatrical performances by past students.
This year 2017, the Union celebrates its 84th Anniversary. The objects highlighted in 1933 still hold true to today. The current Mission Statement reads: "To inspire in present and past students of the College, a spirit of pride and loyalty that would encourage them to support the Alma Mater and each other in achieving their full potential, while ensuring that the interests of the Union and the College are congruent". In line with this Mission, the established Goals include:
- To support the achievements of excellence in all the school's activities
- To support the College in its planning and with its financial needs
- To develop the sustainability of the Union
- To generate and promote activities for the benefit of members.
The Union, working in close collaboration with the administration of the College, identifies specific projects for its involvement and also plays a facilitation role in supporting other stakeholders such as the Parent Teachers Support Group. Activities currently supported by the Union include:
STUDENT DEVELOPMENT: From inception, The Union has supported the needs of students in the areas of mentoring and career guidance. This continues in the present with many interventions, some pursued in collaboration with the Parent Teachers Support Group, such as Boy Meets World or BMW, targeted to the lower Forms and Career Guidance Workshops for Form 3 and Form 6 students.
EXTRA CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES: For the most popular and high profile sport, Football, the Union has provided support by arranging sponsorships from generous donors, acquiring the services of a qualified Coach to guide the development programme from First Form to the Inter-collegiate team.
MEMBER RELATIONS: A few years ago, membership was simplified by the removal of the payment of an entrance fee and making qualification automatic to all past students, subject to confirmation of attendance through the College's records. Applications for membership can now be made online via the Union's website. (www.cicpsu.org). Through Facebook, members are able to keep in touch with each other and the vibrancy of this group has grown over the years. Biennial Dinners are hosted for members to meet and strengthen bonds that would have otherwise frayed over the years. With the assistance and support of the Union's Administrative staff, various groups are able to organize and stage Reunions from time to time. Of course, the high profile of member events is the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. This is held every two years and past students who have distinguished themselves both locally and abroad in their respective fields of endeavour and also made valuable contributions to the development of the Country are recognized via this medium.
COLLEGE SUPPORT: Support is continually provided to the College to assist in whatever areas are identified. Within recent years, support has been provided for developmental programmes for the teaching faculty, partial sponsorship on the acquisition of a new school bus to transport students on field trips and representative teams to inter-school sporting events, full sponsorship for the establishment of a state of the art Foreign Languages laboratory, upkeep and/or improvements to facilities etc. One of the major projects to be undertaken over the next couple years will be the air-conditioning of the Centenary Hall. The funding required to undertake such significant projects is raised through the annual Fete With The Saints and Dining With The Saints events, both of which continue to be popular with the general public and have become fixtures on the Union's calendar of events.
Memories of moving through the hallowed halls of St. Mary's College evoke strong and sentimental emotions throughout the lives of past students. For many, any and all available opportunities are taken to revisit and reconnect with former colleagues. The Union continually seeks to build on the positives and help in overcoming the challenges that impede the development of the full potential of all entrusted in the College's care. By its work, the Union hopes to continue contributing to the present and past students of St. Mary's College and, at the same time, impact positively on the national community, through the development of strong leaders with ethical, moral and spiritual values.