In July we farewelled Jan Stephen (Paull) from her work at the Loreto Centre and wished her well in her retirement. Many readers will know Jan from one of the various roles she has carried out during her career for the greater mission of Loreto. It’s true to say that Jan could, perhaps, never have imagined the length of her long association with Loreto, but also that her retirement would take place in the midst of a global pandemic! Jan’s story has traversed significant changes in the life of the Church, Australian politics and culture, and with the Loreto family itself. What has been constant is Jan’s commitment, graciousness and dedicated service.
Jan attended Loreto Abbey Mary’s Mount (Class of 1965) and the Loreto Commercial College in Ballarat (Class of 1966). Jan, and her younger sister Donna, both felt the responsibility of their Loreto education and truly appreciated it, knowing the commitment and high expectations of their parents. The nuns reminded Jan to work hard, and so she did, but it is true to say she also enjoyed the social aspects of school life! Jan recalls attending various balls with her friends, and, in particular, making her debut at the Palais Theatre in St Kilda in April 1966 with her fellow Year 13 students from Ballarat and Toorak. Photos of this night show a stunning young woman in a beautiful gown, with elbow-length gloves, and an orchid spray adorning her shoulder. Jan’s school days led to a life-long commitment to her beloved Loreto school community in Ballarat. She is still an active Committee member of the Past Pupils Association and has been instrumental in connecting past pupils across the country, arranging reunions and in supporting Federation in Ballarat in 2015. Jan’s contribution was significant also in her membership of the School’s Marketing & Development Committee, on which she served from 2010-2019.
Jan has had a long and successful working life of over 54 years. She reflected recently that she had only a handful of days out of work since leaving school and her career has comprised many different professional roles for a range of organisations. In particular, Jan enjoyed a long period working in federal politics, most notably for Dame (Senator) Margaret Guilfoyle in 1971 and then from 1974 to 1987. The recent release of the Palace Papers relating to the dismissal of Gough Whitlam in 1975 saw many of us press Jan for her memories and secrets of this time; discreet as always she did not reveal too much!
Jan’s professional life with Loreto began in 1992 when she applied for a position as PA to the Principal at Loreto Mandeville Hall, Toorak, Dr Anne Hunt. Jan worked for Dr Hunt and, on close terms in the front office space, with her famous, much loved dog Trudy, continuing in the role when Dr Susan Stevens became Principal in 2002. Jan was famous at Mandeville for her attention to detail, high standards, deep knowledge and thoughtful care of not only Dr Hunt and Dr Stevens, but also of staff, families, sisters and other visitors to their office. Jan’s knowledge of school traditions was extraordinary and her dedication to her work unsurpassed.
In 2012 following her retirement fromthe School, Sr Margaret Mary Flynn invited Jan to assist in Reception at the Loreto Centre, for a short period of 6 weeks. Seven and half years later she departed, having left her mark on another branch of the Loreto family tree. Jan’s office management skills, corporate memory and famously excellent catering skills have been a generous gift for so many staff, visitors and Loreto sisters during her work at the Centre.
For those who know Jan it is difficult to imagine her really retiring; but what is easy to conjure up is an image of her relaxing, still wearing her fabulous heels, in the company of friends,celebrating with stories, over a deliciousmeal. Jan’s retirement is truly significant given her long and heartfelt connection to the work of Loreto over her lifetime witha deep association and loyalty which we know will continue. Mary Ward once wrote, “This is verity, to do what we have to do well.” Jan has indeed done everything well for Loreto, with true verity and sincerity. We give thanks for her great contribution and wish her every blessing for the future.
Author: Michelle McCarty
Image Gallery: Farewelling Jan and some happy memories as a team
++Thank you to the editors of Verity, Loreto College Ballarat for some of the details in this article from their March 2019 edition.