Tuesday, 21 March 2017


Since we are well into this Lenten Season, we should have a look at some reminders of Lent. The most vivid reminder of Lent is the Cross so let’s take a brief look at a very special Cross in St Patrick’s Church.

Inscription on Mission Cross,
St Patrick's Church
St Patrick’s Church officially opened in August 1881.  Parish missions were a frequent occurrence in Ireland and our forebears were not slow when it came to safeguarding their souls.  A parish mission was soon in progress in the new church.  This first mission was conducted by the Redemptorist Fathers in December 1882 and, as was common in those days, the parishioners turned out in droves.  The successful mission concluded with the erection of a Mission Cross. 

We will see from the two old photographs of the interior of the church that the Cross has been moved several times.  
The Mission Cross is to the left of the Sanctuary

Originally, the Mission Cross was located at the front of the church.  The above photo is of the original altar of St Patrick's Church and the Mission Cross can be seen to the left of the Sanctuary.
Men's Mission, St Patrick's Church, Lent 1953

The picture of the Men's Mission of 1953 is almost unbelievable today.  The sheer number of men who, after a hard day's work, came out every evening for a whole week is something that 21st century minds probably find difficult to comprehend.  Even the choir loft is full, as are the aisles.  Perhaps the only fire hazard they were concerned with was the one that the Mission Priests were talking about!  From this photo, we can see that the Mission Cross has been relocated to the back of the church.  It is to the left of the door and, as the custom dictates, the figure of Christ is covered with a purple cloth.

The Redemptorist Mission Cross,
St Patrick's  Church, 1882
The Redemptorist Mission Cross is currently at the back of St Patrick's Church, just to the left as you enter the church by the main door.  The Cross is inscribed “Redemptorist Mission” and in a heart, “Mission Cross erected on Dec 18th 1882”. This Mission Cross is a familiar sight to all of us.  It has graced St Patrick's Church for more than 134 years.  Over the years, the feet have been worn smooth by generations of pious souls who have been touched and inspired by this magnificent representation of our Crucified Saviour.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017


In 1871, St Patrick’s Day was just as important as it is today – but in a very different way!  In preparation for the great Saint’s Day, a special Novena began in St Patrick’s Parish on 8th March.  For the next nine days the Rosary, a Sermon and Benediction took place in the chapel and the parishioners attended in great numbers.  

Yep, it was definitely different from today! However, I am certain that when the big  day, 17th March, finally arrived, our Patron Saint was well celebrated!

Thursday, 2 March 2017


We have just had the most wonderful chat with Mary Lou (Mallard) Tucker.  I want to share it here with you all because it gives us a glimpse into the large, warm, loving, and multi-talented family that has shaped the person she is today.  Also, I think Mary Lou must be the most loyal St Patrick's Girl ever, so the teachers and ethos of St Patrick's surely played a part too! 

Mary Lou Mallard, Grade 1, St Patrick's Convent,
Deanery Avenue
You were baptised Mary Lou but you go by other versions of that name too.  What do most people call you?
I was baptised Mary Louise.  Teachers always called me Mary Lou and my family call me Lulu or Louie.

O K, Louie it is then!

I know that you have lived in St John’s for a long time but were you born there?
Yes, I was born and raised here and have lived here all of my life.

They say that we shouldn’t ask a lady her age but I am going to do it anyway.  When were you born?
I was born in 1955 in St John’s.  I am now 61 years of age.

I remember some of you as children.  You come from a large and loving family, Louie.  How many siblings do you have? 
There are thirteen of us.  Our little brother Kenny has passed.  He left behind a beautiful wife, Denise, and three darling kids; Justin, Nicole and Stephanie.

Louie with some of her siblings and cousins.  At the back we have brother Don, sisters Tish & Sue.  The little girls in the front are sister Liz,  cousins Helen & Rosemary, & little Louie. 

I also remember your parents, lovely people and good neighbours.    Are they from St John’s?
Yes, my beautiful Mom, Helen, lives here in St John’s.  Dad lived in Quidi Vidi before they were married.  Our awesome, hardworking, gentle, honest Dad passed away 10 years ago.  We miss him so very much as our Dad was the “Leader of the Band” in our house of song!

You have a unique tattoo.  Would you like to tell us about it?
Actually, I have two tattoos.  I got one of them when we were away in Grand Prairie Alberta.  It is a
A Mallard Duck
Mallard Duck (my maiden name being Mallard) and it is close to my right ankle.  I got the other one out in Fort St John, B C.  It is a beautiful green shamrock with S P C (St Patrick’s Convent) on it - in honour of my wonderful school, the school I attended as a child.  It is on my right shoulder and I love it. 
Louie's St Patrick's Convent Tattoo. You can't get 
more loyal than that!
While we visited our son Bobby, his darling wife Natasha, and our beautiful grandchildren, Jordyn and Kaleb, Natasha and I had the tattoos done.  They were done different years but Robert paid for them both times, for each of us, God love him.

You are a steadfastly loyal ‘St Patrick’s Girl’. The tattoo proves that!  Did all of your sisters attend St Patrick’s?
All my darling sisters attended St Patrick’s; Patricia, Susan, Elizabeth, Cathy, Brenda, Geraldine and Christine.

I assume your brothers are Holy Cross boys?
Oh yes!  My brother Don attends a Holy Cross Reunion every year.  All my handsome brothers, Don, Tom, Jim, John, and Ken (deceased) attended Holy Cross.
Dad, Tom, Louie, John, Jim & Don,
Cathy, Brenda, Mom,
Tish, Liz, Sue,
Ken, Chrissy, Geri 
You grew up in a musical family.  Do you and your siblings keep up that musical tradition? 
Yes, we sing and play at family gatherings, Christmas, and at our country homes.  Also, I wrote a poem for my sister Chrissy’s wedding and our little brother Kenny was living at the time and he and John put the music to it.  All my brothers sang it at her wedding.  It was a total surprise to everyone.  How much did Chrissy cry, not sad tears, she and Mike were thrilled.  

Also the boys in our family did a tribute C D for our little brother Kenny to celebrate his life when he passed.  He was a lover of Traditional Irish Music.  Another one of my poems, “I Have To Know”, was put to music and made a song by the boys.  It was on a C D.  My brother John wrote a special song for Ken about their lives together and put music to it.  It is called “Your Smiling Face”. John and the other boys in our family are very talented.  The C D was so very touching.  Kenny left us on a New Year’s Eve, eleven years ago.  We miss him so much with his sweet, happy, funny and kind nature.  When we think about you Kenny, it brings a giant smile to all our faces!

DON plays guitar and piano.  TISH and SUE sing.  LIZ plays guitar and sings but lives in Ontario.  I sing and play Auto Harp (only for my kiddies that I look after).  They think I play great.  TOM plays accordion and sings and JIM plays guitar and sings.  JOHN plays guitar, mandolin mouth organ and maybe other instruments and sings.  CATHY plays guitar and sings and BRENDA sings.  GERI and CHRIS sing when home.  They live in Ontario.
I have heard that you too have a beautiful singing voice and sang in the renowned St Patrick’s School Choirs.  Would you like to tell us about your choir days?
All of us are very close in ages.  Elizabeth and I are sisters, Rosemary and Helen are sisters.  Our Mom and their Mom are sisters and our Dad and their Dad are brothers.  Helen and Tom Mallard owned thirteen of us and Kay and Art Mallard owned six.  So all our lives, being so close in ages, we all felt like sisters.  As we were going through school, four of us were really close, singing in the Kiwanis Music Festival.  All four of us were in Triple Trios, Trios, Duets, solos, and in our beautiful St Patrick’s Girls Choir, directed by Sister Mary Brendan Lynch.  We sang after school, on Saturdays and on Sundays when we were close to the Festival.  We came first place for a lot of years before we went on to Holy Heart.  But St Patrick’s still had a lot of First Places in the Festival after we left.  I have other sisters, Cathy, Brenda and Geri, who were in the choir after we left St Patrick’s.
Louie's sister, Liz, is the little girl with the big smile, front left.  Louie tells me that she, Rosemary & Helen were also there but they didn't make it into the newspaper picture.

Even though both of our families have more siblings, we were one giant, happy, close family.  When we were smaller, we shared a three apartment house which was owned by our grandmother and grandfather, Nanny and Poppy Gushue.  We all had to move when they expropriated our land close to where City Hall is now.  They were such wonderful years and we will never forget the years our three families were blended.  My family and I moved to McKay Street in Grade 3.  On to a new adventure!  Rosemary and Helen’s family moved to Hamilton Avenue. 

Rosemary has continued to sing in various choirs, right up to this day.  Rosemary and Helen play guitars and sing.  Rosemary can also play piano.  Michael, their baby brother, plays guitar and sings.  Artie sings and their brother Bobby does also.  Their brother Gerald, who was the baby boy in their family passed away around the same age as our Kenny.  They both loved singing and playing.  It really broke our hearts.  Part of our large family was gone forever; both of them with such young families.  It had to be one of the saddest of times in our family’s history and all of us are still not completely over it. Within a very short time, we lost our baby brother Kenny in his early forties.  He left three young children. Our very close brother in law, my sister Sue’s husband Ev Short, was fifty-three and he left two children. The next week we lost the sweetest Dad God ever put breath into. So that meant Dad and Ev were gone within a week of each other, as well as Rose and Helen's brother, Gerald, in his early forties, the father of two young boys. So, so hard! Their journey on this earth was cut short. Gone from us but always, always remembered by us but especially in Song.
Most of our family and some of Rosemary's
Music isn't your only talent.  You have contributed some of your lovely poems to this blog and I have seen a book of your poems too.  How did your writing begin?
I began writing when I was expecting our precious son Bobby, our only child.  Bobby was born the 8th day of the 8th month of 1980. 

Do you still write?  Are we likely to see another book of your poetry?
Yes, I still write.  I don’t know about another book as the first was such a wonderful accomplishment for me.  That precious moment when Lucy Stoyles told me that I was now a Published Poet could never be taken away from me!  Lucy, a City Councillor in Mt Pearl, heard one of my poems I read when we went on an excursion to Woody Island. We had been there the previous year and I wrote a poem about Woody Island and that adventure.  Lucy heard the poem, loved it, and asked if I had anymore poems.  I said “Yes, hundreds”.  That’s how I got to put my poems in a book called “Precious Jewels”.  It is a book of poems about family and friends.  Lucy and my brother Kenny were key helpers, along with other great people in my family and friends.  I asked Kenny for a donation to put up on tickets and he came to my house and filled my living room floor with things.  I was in shock.  Kenny pulled in a lot of donations from his work and other companies he knew to raise money to get my book copied and printed.  A copy was forwarded to Memorial University of Newfoundland, Newfoundland Poet Section.  Some went to other Universities across Canada.   Lucy got about 200 copies printed for me.  We gave them away to family and friends.  Then my handsome brother-in-law, David Bishop, printed 100 copies for me in Ontario and some were put down to the Downhomer on Water Street.  The rest were bought by family and friends.  I was thrilled to have my work in a book.

I have written about births, deaths, weddings, thank you cards, apologies, Valentine, Winterton, Woody Island and other topics.  When someone asks me to write a poem for them, I tell them I will try.  I say a prayer to the Blessed Virgin and to Jesus and ask them for their help.  They have not failed me yet!  A lot of my poems are spiritual and the words just pop into my head.  That is why I think everyone has the ability to do it.
Louie's Book of Poems

You are married to Robert Tucker.  How long have you been married?
My darling Robert and I have been married 41 years.  We were dating about five or six years before we married so we have been together over 47 years.  I would say no man could ever replace him for me and my brothers love him also.  He plays guitar with them.

How did you and Robert meet?
We both lived on McKay Street.  We hung around with his family and all of our friends, about 30 people.  We mostly hung around at his Mom’s house.  When his parents would go out for a game of cards we would sneak into the house and play records and waltz to the music.  Rosemary and our dear friend Lauren were with us during this time but eventually they went on to other adventures.  Debbie, Rose and I continued to be the best of friends.  Our friend Lauren passed in her forties, God rest her soul.  God bless Robert’s parents.  I loved them both so much. I never had an ill word to say to either one of them. The only thing, Mr Tucker thought I was too young for Robert and Mrs Tucker always took up for her boys.  We laugh about that today.  There is definitely a bed in heaven for both of these wonderful people.  They seemed to understand the kids of the day, which was a great relief for all of us!   My relationship with them both was perfect.  I miss them so.

Do you have children and grandchildren?
I have one handsome, darling son, Bobby, who is 6ft 4in.  I have two perfect grandchildren, Jordyn and Kaleb.  I can’t see them very often as they live out in B C.  But we certainly do love them and they text me from time to time.  Isn’t technology wonderful?

A big part of your life has been devoted to children.  How long have you been working with them and in what capacity?
I worked at United Nail and Foundry for seven years before and after I married.  Then it closed its doors.  The downturn in the economy at that time limited jobs for office work.  Bobby was about two years of age and was being looked after by my Mom while we worked.  When I got laid off I decided to take in children and start a day home and have some kids play with Bobby.  Over thirty-four years later, I am still with this precious job of teaching little children to love each other, care and share.  My hope is that I have made a difference in all the little kids that have crossed my path and who have come to my door.  I feel this was God’s plan for me and the little children I looked after are meant to be here because I never advertise – they come to me.  I did look after some of my brothers’ children and recently I have some of my siblings’ grandchildren!

Thank you, Louie; it has been a pleasure and a privilege talking to you.  I wish you well in all that you do and I hope you will continue to send us your poems.  You are a credit to St Patrick’s and your teachers would be very proud of you.  Keep that fierce flame of loyalty burning!
Thank you, Beth Anne, for taking the time to do this interview.  Yes, I will continue and will be thrilled to send you more of my work.  I thank God every day for my health and strength and for his help, along with Our Blessed Mother, as I journey on in this world with my little children and my beautiful family and friends.  Thank you very much for making me feel so very special.