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Former Principal of CaSPA School in latest Honours List

Posted on 21 June 2017
Former Principal of CaSPA School in latest Honours List
Above: Presentation Sister Elvera Sesta has been awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for her service to education for over 50 years. Photo: Emilie Ng.

MOST students would race out the door when they finish Year 12, but Presentation Sister Elvera Sesta decided to make the classroom her home.

Sr Sesta has spent the majority of her adult life teaching at the same school she attended as a child, St Rita's College, Clayfield.

Her legacy at St Rita's College began in 1947 when she was an 8-year-old boarding school student.

"My dad had died in the beginning of 1947, and then my mother shortly after that remarried," Sr Sesta said.

"Initially I'm of Greek decent and when she remarried she married an Italian they thought it would be better if I was in boarding school so I was sent here in 1947."

In 1960 she entered the convent for the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary something her parent's initially "weren't fussed on" and began teaching chemistry and biology at her alma mater.

She was appointed principal of the College for 20 years between 1989 and 2008, making her the longest serving principal at the school.

After a short time away from teaching she returned to the classroom in 2010 as a religion teacher, a job she is still doing now.

"I always wanted to be a teacher," Sr Sesta said.

"I've given my whole life to education, really.

"I think the good thing about teaching is being able to impart knowledge, because that's the fabric you work with, and then once they get the knowledge, being able to do something with it and seeing the light go on in the head.

"And that I think is encouraging."

Though she hasn't been looking for accolades, Sr Sesta's hard work in educating thousands of young women has not been gone unnoticed.

Today Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove announced Sr Sesta as one of 891 Australians and over 30 Catholics in the Queen's Birthday 2017 Honours List.

"It's a great honour but then I feel everyone in Sr Rita's works together," Sr Sesta said.

"We all work together to achieve our result; it's not just me."

Each year the Queen's Birthday Honours List recognises a diverse range of contributions and service across all fields, including professional endeavours, community work, Australia's Defence Force and Emergency Services.

Around 33 people who have contributed to the Church community have been included in the 2017 list, including at least four from Queensland and two religious Sisters.

Joining Sr Elvera on the list is Mercy Sister Betty Schonfeldt of South Australia, who was awarded for her service to social welfare in Adelaide.

From: Catholic Leader June 12, 2017
Tags: Catholic Secondary Principals Australia

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