Francis grew up on her father’s dairy farm “Wyuna”. When in grade three at Our Lady of Mt Carmel School, at the age of eight, Frances and her sister Kathleen learnt to play the piano. This is something that has been an advantage to Frances right throughout her life.
Sister Regina was her first music teacher. Sister Regina, who in her gentle way, would guide Frances to each Holy Picture in the three corners of the small music room at the Convent, and before each music lesson they would recite a prayer to the Sacred Heart, Our Lady and St Joseph. Because they had no piano at home, it was arranged that as well as the weekly lessons, Frances and Kathleen would practice each day at lunch time. In the cold winter months Sister Regina would bring the girls a warm drink of milo.
Frances recalled that just before each Christmas break up they would have a concert. The week before the actual break up concert they would perform for the patients of the Psychiatric Hospital in Sunbury.
At the age of ten, when Frances was in Grade five, she sat for the Preliminary Exam in Pianoforte and passed the exam.
The following year, 1954, Frances had a new music Teacher, Sister Lucy. Sister Lucy used to tell Frances how beautiful the hymn “O Breather on me Breath of God” was when the male choir of St Patrick’s Cathedral sang it at Pentecost season. Later, in her twenties, Frances often went to the Cathedral to Mass and she was able to hear this choir and she really did enjoy their singing.
In her last year at Our Lady of Mt Carmel School Frances had Sister Maria Joseph Tunnicliff as her music teacher. Sister Maria remained a friend of Frances until she passed away in 2006 at the age of ninety one. Frances fondly remembers her as an extremely good teacher and disciplinarian.
In 1956 Frances went away to boarding school at Vaucluse Convent in Richmond and looking back on her life, she often thought, that if she had Sr Maria Joseph as her music teacher she would have probably gone further with her music.
Frances remembers there were three classrooms at Our Lady of Mt Carmel. The little room, the middle room and the big room. When Frances was in grade three (1951) Sister Alma, who was the teacher of the middle room, left the Sunbury school and so the school was reduced to two classrooms, being the big room and the little room.
The teachers Francis remembers who taught at Our Lady of Mt Carmel school were Sister Leo McFarland, Sister Georgina, Sister Mary Maxentia Cunningham, Sister Ludovic, Sister Laurentia, Sister Whilomena and Sister Matthew.
Sister Whilomena died in a car accident between Sunbury and Bacchus Marsh.
Taken from memories written in 2007. Used with permission