Callista, Sister

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Callista, Sister

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Sister Callista, born Mary Catherine McGeehan on 6 March 1877, is first recorded under her birth name at the Glasgow School of Art in 1888 when she was just 9 years of age. Part of a large and artistically gifted family, she travelled to the School with her two elder sisters, Jessie Mary and Annie Louise (Aniza) from Rawyards, Airdrie, where their father, Patrick, was a businessman and deeply involved in the town's community and church life. All three women went on to become respected artists and another younger sister, Elizabeth, followed in their footsteps enrolling at the School in 1902. Although her elder sisters are listed in the register again in 1989, Mary's name does not appear. In 1904 she entered the Order of Sisters of Notre Dame, taking her final vows in 1914; that same year she registered at the School again, now as Sister Callista, with her address recorded as Notre Dame Training College, Dowanhill. Sister Callista does not appear on the roll for the following year, but re-registered in 1916, 1917 and 1918 joining the metalwork course for each of the four years. For at least two years, she was taught by a Mr Davidson, presumably Peter Wylie Davidson, Assistant Master of Decorative Art and Metalwork, member of staff from 1897 - 1934/5. Obviously a talented student, she won the Mrs D Macleod prize in 1915 awarded for enamel and silversmithing. Notre Dame Training College opened in 1895, the first (female) Catholic Teacher Training College in Scotland and Dowanhill Higher Grade Practising School two years later. The rapid expansion of the school meant that a new chapel and further buildings were soon required. In addition to her teaching duties (she eventually became the Principal art teacher at the Training College in Dowanhill), Sister Callista was responsible for a rose window and four side windows painted for the chapel. When the Training College moved to Bearsden in 1969 (later becoming St Andrew's College of Education) the glass was removed from Dowanhill and placed in storage at Bearsden. Following amalgamation with the University of Glasgow to form the new Faculty of Education, the building was closed in 2002. Four of the windows, Christ the King, Our Lady Queen of the World, St Joseph the Worker and St Peter were then installed in St Peter's Church in Partick, Glasgow. In addition to producing stained glass, Sister Callista also produced illustrations for a book describing the life of St Julie Billiart, the foundress of the teaching order of Notre Dame de Namur. Perhaps one of her most prestigious commissions was for a large Assumption window for the chapel of the Notre Dame Mother House in Namur, Belgium. Sister Callista died at Notre Dame convent in Glasgow in 1960. Another nun, Sister Campion (see separate entry) studied alongside Sister Callista, following exactly the same course. Notre Dame School continues to teach girls of secondary school age in the West End of Glasgow. It is the only single sex comprehensive school in Scotland. Wikipedia,_Glasgow Buildings at Risk Register/Historic Environment Scotland Elma MacDonald, Editor of Monklanads Heritage Society magazine


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