Catherine McAuley Westmead’s staff and students will farewell their principal of nine years, Margery Jackman on April 11.
‘‘There is joy and sadness in leaving,’’ she said.
‘‘My fondest memories are always of interaction with staff and students and that is what I will miss — their vitality, joy, enthusiasm and warmth.
‘‘I feel it’s good for a school to have a fresh leader with fresh vision.’’
Staff, parents, students and principals of neighbouring schools in the diocese attended a farewell mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta, on Monday.
The school choir sang throughout the mass, which ended with a ‘circle of mercy’.
Students lit individual candles from the flame of Ms Jackman’s candle then formed a large circle around her to symbolise enclosing her in God’s arms.
Ms Jackman said the blessing and opening of the school’s chapel last year and the excellent HSC results of the school’s 2013 students were highlights of her time as principal.
There were five students recognised on the premier’s all-rounder achievement list and 26 per cent of the cohort achieved an ATAR above 90.
Laetitia Richmond, a former assistant principal at Nagle College in Blacktown, will begin as the school’s new principal at the start of term 2.
Travel and more time with family are in Ms Jackman’s immediate retirement plans.
She will take The Ghan from Adelaide to Darwin and visit Kakadu National Park before a longer trip in September, where she will make a pilgrimage across northern England to Ireland.
She will walk the 120 kilometres in six days on her own.
‘‘I’m looking forward to the solitude after such a busy career,’’ she said.
‘‘For me it’s more about the meditation aspect and being in touch with God.’’