ETHOS MAY 2017
Maintaining St. Mary's College as an exemplary Catholic school requires dedication and commitment. Our school chaplain Fr. Liam Morgan, plays a key role in this regard. This year he celebrated whole-school masses on Mercy Day and at Christmas and was involved in the first and second year retreats. He also blessed Rosary beads, distributed Lenten ashes, heard confession and, in the month of May, led the 6th year and Transition Year graduations.
Our teachers organise faith-in-action events including the Vincent de Paul food drive, the recent Trocaire Blue Day, retreats, liturgical services in the prayer-room, and guest speakers from the Legion of Mary, Cuan Mhuire and Trocaire. We very much appreciate the work of Ms. Mannion, Mr. Lanigan and Ms. Elliott, and the school choir and orchestra, who support and enhance all our significant liturgical celebrations through music and song.
The RE team also acknowledges the generous involvement of so many of our students in RE activities. We appreciate how exemplary you are in embodying our school's Mercy ethos. We are especially mindful of our Head and Deputy Head girls, Meitheal, Cairdeas and Wellbeing leaders, and TY and fifth year students working towards their John Paul II awards. We pay special tribute to ALL students who decorate the prayer room and reception at specific times in the Liturgical year. Your posters and symbols ensure that everyone in school, and anyone who visits, is aware that St. Mary's College values and celebrates its Catholic ethos and faith.
Finally, we express our thanks to Management and Sr. Brigid for all their support of the RE department.
Fr. Liam distributed ashes to students in the prayer room on Ash Wednesday, March 1st. With three other priests, he heard confession from 11. 20 until 1.10. Many students availed of this lovely opportunity to partake in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Members of the Legion of Mary visited all sixth year classes in early March. The speakers outlined their devotion to Our Lady, gave explanations as to the meaning and significance of the miraculous medal, and distributed medals and accompanying leaflets to everyone in the year. They assured the students of their prayers, particularly in the remaining months before the Leaving Cert.
On Tuesday, March 14th, five 5th year students attended the CEIST Student Leadership Conference in St. Patrick's College, Drumcondra. The conference, attended by pupils from 79 Ceist schools, was officially opened by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin. The day consisted of workshops, discussions on student leadership projects within schools and an address by the Minister of Education and Skills.
The Mir retreat team delivered a tremendous retreat to all third years on Wednesday, March 15th. A day packed with energisers, meditation and positivity was enjoyed by all.
Addiction counsellors from Cuan Mhuire visited St. Mary's on Tuesday and Wednesday, March 21 and 22. To all 6th years, they told the stories of their lives, and the impact and effect that addiction to drugs, alcohol and gambling had had on their lives. Their honesty, courage and conviction that their faith had played an enormous role in their recovery, was thought-provoking and heart-warming.
The focus of Trocaire's Lenten campaign again this year is climate justice. RE teachers invited their students to seek sponsorship for Trocaire by fasting, walking, giving up technology for a day, or a sponsored silence. Students participating wore blue to school on Wednesday, April 5th, ('Blue Day'), to focus on the work of Trocaire and to signify their support.
Work with sixth years after Easter will primarily focus on their Graduation mass, to be held in the church of the Irish Martyrs, Ballycane, in late May, 2017.
Lent began on Ash Wednesday, March 1st. Fr. Liam and Sr. Brigid gave ashes to students in the prayer room, during class 6 and at lunch-time. Fr. Liam and a team of priests heard confessions in the school on Tuesday, March 14th, as part of the students' preparation for Easter.
In addition, in RE classes, the importance of the three spiritual disciplines; fasting, prayer and almsgiving (or charity) will be focused on during the season of Lent. We hope to have a whole school 'Blue Day' later in the season, to support the work of Trócaire, whose focus this year is again on climate change and its effects on environments, in many developing countries worldwide.
We acknowledged our return to school (on Jan, 9th) and the World Day of Migrants and Refugees (on Jan. 15th) with intercom prayers.
Preparations for the first year retreat began in the opening week of the New Year. All first year Religion teachers, and other members of the RE staff, will hold the retreat on Friday, Jan. 27th, 2017. Activities involve morning assembly and prayers, a drama enacting the story of St. Brigid, class-based activities, cross-building and Mass. Meitheal leaders will also assist with the morning's activities which focus on the theme of friendship. Ms. Elliott will provide the music for the retreat Mass.
Fr. Liam will celebrate Mass in the Parish Church and we thank him for his support.
6th Years enjoyed a day of retreat on Tuesday, Jan 10th. It was facilitated by the Mir Retreat team.
Students, aiming to attain the John Paul II awards, worked in the Parish Office, making St. Brigid's crosses for the parish.
Mr. Gerry Keegan facilitated the 5th year retreat, delivered to three class groups, each day, from Jan. 23rd to 24th. Feedback was very positive.
Catholic Schools Week 2017 takes place this year from January 29th – February 4th. Each year, this week provides a particular opportunity to reflect on the ways in which faith underpins Catholic education and all that takes place in our school community. The theme this year is: Catholic Schools: Learning with Pope Francis to Care for Our Common Home. It is hoped that this theme will help schools to develop an understanding of Pope Francis’s encyclical ‘Laudato Si’, which calls on each of us to develop an awareness of the urgent need to care for our planet and all humanity. Resources for Catholic Schools Week are available for RE teachers to download.
ETHOS September - November
In August, Ms. McCabe (Principal) and Ms. M. Humphreys prepared a Prezi presentation, for staff, on the ethos of St. Mary's College and the founding intention of Catherine McAuley. The presentation focused on the key players in a Catholic school, including students, staff, parents, the wider community, the Board of Management and the Trustees, CEIST.
Chloe Mangan, former Sixth Year, was commended for her article on what it’s like to be a student in a Catholic school, published in The Irish Catholic.
Mercy Day and the school’s 80th Anniversary were celebrated with Mass, in the Parish Church, on Tuesday, September 20th. The school choir and musicians greatly enhanced the Liturgy.
In October, RE classes were focused on the Rosary and mission awareness. As part of the ‘Wear Your Faith Initiative’, First and Second Years were afforded an opportunity to buy rosary bracelets, supplied by St. Martin Apostolate, in honour of the Rosary and the Holy Family. In November, Fr. Liam blessed the bracelets.
Cathriona Kelly, leader of the John Paul II awards initiative in the Kildare and Leighlin Diocese, spoke to all TY students on October 5th. Four of our present Fifth Years, Andrina Faherty, Eimear Ryan, Aoibhin Fitzsimons and Jennifer Carroll spoke enthusiastically about their involvement in last year’s project. TYs went on retreat to Emmaus and celebrated harvest time with a festival, held in the school assembly hall, on October 26th.
As part of our Wellbeing programme, Ms. O’Callaghan is leading sessions in meditation, each Thursday, in the Prayer Room.
On our return to school after mid-term, we focused on the theme 'In November We Remember'. Prayer bracelets and rosary beads were sold, in great numbers, to all first and second year classes. Our Christmas Mass will be held on Wednesday, December 21st.
Volunteers are being recruited for the St. Vincent de Paul food drive.