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April 26, 2010 | by  | in News | [ssba]

Holy Catholic school girl, Batman

—“Quick! Jesus is coming! Look busy!”

Anyone else noticed the male and female signs for the library bathrooms have been switched on several floors? Yeah, me neither. It took walking in on a semi-decent Neanderthal to figure it out. But we Catholic school girls can’t be blamed for absent-minded bathroom lurking. At our schools, there are no such things as urinals.

With half my family Irish Catholic and the other Presbyterian, two things were bound to happen to me in my life: baptism and three million cousins. So when Mrs Bennet sat Atticus and I down in 1995 and promptly informed us we were going to learn about ‘Jesus’, I agreed. Imagine my surprise when I learned that in order to visit Jesus’ house I had to dress up in a little blue kilt and get dunked in a bowl of water by an elderly man in a white dressing gown. Dazed, confused, and convinced that man tried to drown me, I toddled into my new school the next day, only to realise everyone else was wearing the same thing.

As the years passed, I was to discover Religious Education only seemed to involved intense discussions about the beatitudes, colouring in Jesus of Nazareth, and bitching about that useless prick Judas. Terrible kisser, apparently. But after a brief stint in Girls’ Brigade (Girl Guides for holy folk) and Christmas Mass ruining my Christmas Eve television specials, I became quite impatient and tired of the whole charade. Turns out, after five years of informing both my parents they were for sure not invited to The Rapture, I wasn’t the only one.

It wasn’t until last week that my love for Catholic schooling returned… and in full force. Sacred Heart College serves as a reality check for students where 99.9 per cent of the time, Catholic school girl no longer means ‘Free Ticket to Heaven’ but ‘Family Planning Regular’ and knowing all the naughty bits of the bible. After spending years hating the institution with a passion, a Facebook group titled ‘You Know You Go To Sacred Heart College When…’ has left myself and over 500 other SHC students religiously typing their anecdotes for all to read. Pun intended.

In the space of six hours, over 200 students had joined. And we weren’t shy of sharing our experiences. Turns out, we all know that Sacred Heart College boasts the highest pregnancy rate and we all love a certain Soprano nun with a perm and grandma jumpers. We ‘le gasped!’ at the furtive same-sex relations in those infamous Euphrasie corridor bathrooms and were hysterical when our principal couldn’t quite work the intercom system, ever. I have never ‘liked’ so many wallposts before and it feels amazing.

It’s slightly ironic, really. We’ve spent 13 years of Catholic schooling outwardly complaining about mass taking too long, singing practice, and heinous uniforms only to find ourselves with an innate sense of belonging and camaraderie between strangers in a place where most of us feared to tread. We can’t escape, but as Facebook tells me, I don’t think we want to.

But more importantly, why was there a semi-naked man in my female Rankine Brown bathroom?


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