As the first appointed College Captain, Loretta Gamley (Peterson)
commenced at Mater Christi in 1964. Transferring across from St John the Baptist Ferntree Gully, Loretta like many others had been eagerly awaiting the finalisation of construction of the first Mater Christi school buildings on the hill.
Loretta was among 60 students in Years 7, 8 and 9 who commenced at the College in the same year, having begun their high school education at surrounding schools, but regarded as Mater girls none the less.
It may have been an unusual way to start secondary school, but Loretta remembers the College beginnings fondly as families, including her own, pitched in to get the uniform finalised and the gardens established.
Just as Mater prides itself on its sense of community today, Loretta remembers the same feeling in the early years of the school’s establishment.
“Beginning with 60 students and growing by one hundred or so each year, everyone knew everyone, which made for strong, even lifelong friendships. We all played rounders at lunchtime and went to church together. Looking back, I would say Mater offered everything a teenage girl needed...we were cared for, we had good examples of the importance of education and the nuns had a great sense of fun.”
After completing Year 11 Loretta was immediately accepted into General Nursing, which she says was all she ever wanted to do. She trained at Box Hill Hospital and became a Midwife. Shortly after that Loretta was married after which she worked in her family business and volunteers at her local church for many years.
At the age of 50, she obtained a Graduate Certificate in Counselling from Yarra Theological Union and went on to work with the Family Care sisters, caring for women in need of respite.
Loretta’s daughter Antoinette Burfurd (Gamley) also attended Mater Christi from 1985 – 1990, and there are plans for her granddaughters Lexi and Adelaide to commence over the coming years. A testament to the family’s connection and regard for the College.
Both Loretta and Antoinette are looking forward to 60th Anniversary festivities and continuing to be part of the Mater Christi community.