ETHOS REPORT – DECEMBER 2014
Blessing of the Rosary Bead Ceremony
On the 27th November, we held our 'Blessing of the Beads' ceremony which was presided over by Fr. Liam Morgan, our school chaplain. Justin Brown from CEIST very generously gave of his time to be present at the event and we vey much appreciated his support. The students said a decade of the Rosary in honour of the Blessed Virgin and had they Rosary Beads blessed. It was a lovely, prayerful occasion for all present.
The annual St. Vincent De Paul food drive has begun in St. Mary's. All students will donate non-perishable food items which will then be made into hampers, to be distributed to those who have less than ourselves this Christmas.
The Concern Fast will occur on the 17th December in the school. We hope to raise money for those in third world countries who are struggling to survive at this time. It is vital that the students learn to live out the Gospel message of loving our neighbour as ourselves and it is through worthwhile projects like this that they can fully embrace the call to humanity and indeed Christianity.
The Camino Walk
The Camino Walk is a 7 day pilgrimage in Spain. A group of 40 teenagers and leaders from the Kildare and Leighlin Diocese completed this journey, including 4 students from St. Mary's College, namely Shauna Keevans, Riona Devereux, Catriona Flynn and Eva Murphy. They finished their journey in Santiago , 120 km's later. The girls reported an indescribable sense of achievement and we are very proud of them on account of completing this Pilgrimage.
A speaker will talk to the girls about this uplifting and enlightening spiritual retreat which has been organised for next week. We hope to encourage as many of our students to attend as possible as it has been reported as a life changing experience by previous attendees. Many thanks to Mr. Dillon for organising the speaker.
Advent Nights for Young Adults
These three nights of reflection and prayer have been organised by Fr. Liam Morgan, Fr. Kevin Walsh and Grace Keevans. The events themselves take place in The Church of the Irish Martyrs, Ballycane over the Advent season. We are glad to report a very good uptake by the St. Mary's students who have reported a very uplifting and spiritual experience and many thanks to all those involved.
Pope John Paul Awards
Over 20 students from St. Mary's College have signed up to complete this prestigious award. The girls will work both within the school and within their parish as they foster a lifelong relationship with their faith community. Also, 15 TY students signed up to attend the meetings which occur every second week. These meetings organise Liturgical events within the Parish and also fundraise for events such as the much anticipated 2016 trip to Krakow in Poland and also for a Camino reunion. Well done to all involved.
TY Prayer Service
The TY Prayer Service will take place this week in the Assembly Hall in preparation for Christmas. It promises to be a lovely prayerful experience.
Confessions and Christmas Mass
We will provide an opportunity for the students to receive the Sacrament of Confession next week in the Prayer Room. Fr. Liam will minister to the students and will also preside over our Christmas Mass which will occur on the 18th December.
The Prayer Group will now occur at morning break in order to better facilitate students and staff. An 'intentions box' will be brought to classes and all those intentions will be prayed for by the group every Friday.
Ethos: March 2014
The school was a hive of activity as usual this month. The Third Years had their in-house retreat with the ‘Mir’ team while the Fifth Years enjoyed an in-house retreat given by the ‘Mustard Seed’ retreat team. Thank you to Ms. O’Callaghan and Ms. Buckley especially for organising these events for the girls as they are a very important of our student’s spiritual and personal development while in the school.
Legion of Mary:
The Legion of Mary was invited to visit the school and speak to our sixth years about their work and mission. Our students were very interested and even affected by what the speakers had to say. The girls were delighted to be given Miraculous Medals and prayer leaflets by the group especially at this trying time of their lives and it is our hope that they will learn to depend more and more on God’s help in life. This visit certainly promoted this way of life for our students and thanks to Ms. Curry for organising the event.
A great emphasis has been placed on the period of Lent as a time of penance, sacrifice and self-renewal within religion classes and indeed the whole school. Intercom announcements heralded the start of Lent and posters around the school remind students of the call to penance and sacrifice at this very important time of year. Fr. P.J was available to the students during the first week of Lent in order to distribute the Blessed Ashes in the Prayer Room. The response was inspiring, with Fr. P.J paying tribute to the student’s sense of spirituality and faith, so great was the demand. He also wanted to draw attention to the fact that those girls involved in the highly successful school Musical came to receive the Blessed Ashes, despite the fact that they had their stage make-up already applied. Fr. P.J also was available to the girls for the sacrament of Confession which again was in great demand by our students. We also hope to have Eucharistic Adoration in the Prayer Room over the coming weeks. Many thanks to Fr. P.J for his continuing support in the development of our students' faith.
Trócaire Lenten Campaign:
The annual Trócaire Lenten Campaign has begun in earnest once again and this year their focus in on providing fresh water to those living in the severely disadvantaged area of Malawi. We decided to host some events in order to raise awareness amongst our students of this worthy cause and to highlight the need to follow Gospel values by doing everything we could to give dignity to others where it is lacking. With this in mind our students tackled the issue with gusto. The third years made pancakes on Shrove Tuesday and sold almost 200 with all proceeds going to the campaign. Thanks to Ms. Woods for organising this. Other students decided to make a sacrifice such as giving up food, hot water and even technology for a day in an effort to raise money through sponsorship but also to empathise in some small way with those less fortunate than themselves. On Friday 14th March we had a ‘Blue Day’ where each student partaking in this campaign wore blue as a sign of solidarity. The response was overwhelming and we look forward to finding out how much we have raised in the weeks to come.
Mental Health and Wellbeing Module:
This month tutors and other teachers delivered a module to all year groups over three classes on the above topic which promotes our ethos of care and inclusivity for all. Many thanks to Ms. Barton and Ms. Reidy and all teachers involved in such a positive and successful event. Also, a sincere thank you to Ms. McCabe and Ms. Forde, whose constant professional and personal support and dedication to the implementation of the ethos of the school enables all of the above and more to be implanted in the life of our school and in turn in the lives of our students, thus maintaining St. Mary’s College as an exemplary Catholic educational facility.
January - February 2014
Catholic School's Week :
Catholic Schools Week ran from the 26th of January to the 2nd of February. Being a CEIST school we placed great emphasis on this event with a range of activities taking place in order to celebrate and promote this important week in the life of our school. Daily prayers and thoughts for the week were read out over the intercom each morning. In many classes, the lesson was preceded by a prayer. Various prayers including Prayers for exams, the protection prayer to St. Michael the Archangel and other important prayers were printed and laminated by the students. These little prayer cards were then left in the classrooms for all students to take home, encouraged by our 'Pick up a Prayer' posters. We also had a beautiful display in our reception area with the statues of Our Blessed Lady and Our Lord. Prayer cards and Padre Pio leaflets were left out for all to take home. A digital display on the screen in the reception area drew attention to Catholic Schools Week and the various aspects of faith which we focused on as a Catholic school during this period.
First Year Retreat:
Catholic Schools Week culminated with a very enjoyable celebration of St. Brigid's Day in the shape of our annual First Year Retreat. The First Years re-enacted some scenes from Brigid's life story , followed by some games and activities. The making of the St.Brigid's crosses was carried out with plenty of enthusiasm and creative talent as always. Following on from this a Mass was held in the Church, celebrated by Fr. P.J Madden. The crosses were blessed and taken home by the girls. Some crosses were also given to staff and placed in our school. Many thanks to all the teachers involved ( Ms. Curry, Mr. Kelly, Ms.Elliot (music), Ms. Irwin, Ms. Cleary, Ms. Delaney, Ms. Humphreys) and to Fr. P.J. for creating such a wonderful and meaningful experience for the girls. We are also looking forward to our 3rd and 5th year Retreats which are taking place in a few weeks.
With Ash Wednesday ushering in the Lenten season on the 5th March, our students are being prepared for this very important Liturgical period through Prayer Services and also in class. They will receive Blessed Ashes and the Sacrament of Confession will be made available to them throughout the Lenten period in preparation for Easter. Intercom notices and prayers will also be a part of our preparations in order to encourage our students to be mindful of the importance of preparing spiritually for the celebration of Easter.
Students from various class groups will take part in the Trocaire annual campaign, which this year aims to raise funds in order to supply clean water and educational materials in Malawi. Our students have been very generous with their time in offering to either fast or give up luxuries in order to help raise these much needed funds. Ms. Woods class will hold a pancake sale on Shrove Tuesday while other students have pledged to give up the use of hot water for the day. In doing so they will embody the spirit of sacrifice and self denial which characterises the Lenten period but which also encourages them to empathise with those less fortunate in our world today.
Social Outreach Programmes:
Three members of staff (Irene Woods, Bronwyn Cuddy, Margaret Hayes)have attended the 'Rainbows' Volunteer Facilitator Training programme with the intent of establishing a site in the school. 'Rainbows' is a Voluntary Association which aims to help young people to deal effectively with loss ( bereavement/parental separation) and it's effects through facilitated peer support sessions.
Christmas Mass :
St. Mary's College ended the year 2013 on a high with the celebration of Christmas Mass in the newly decorated 'Church of Our Lady and St. David'. The event was a beautiful and spiritual occasion which was heightened by the almost ethereal music and singing prepared by the Music Department. Every student behaved impeccably and participated in a reverential and involved manner and a light dusting of snow as we left the Church in the impending darkness topped off this spiritual experience for us all.
St. Vincent De Paul Society Christmas Appeal:
In line with our ethos the students and staff of St. Mary's College raised €2,500 for the St. Vincent De Paul Society which went towards helping those in need during what can be a very trying time of year. The effort which the girls put in really demonstrated their compassion and care for those less fortunate, and we for one, are very proud of them.
The Feast of the Epiphany Mass:
We arrived back to school on a Holy Day - the Feast of the Epiphany of Our Lord. Sr. Brigid organised a beautiful Mass in order to celebrate the occasion in the Sports Hall and it was a lovely, meaningful occasion for those staff and students who attended. Many thanks to the P.E Department for their help in organising it and of course to Sr. Brigid and Fr. Jimmy for celebrating it with us. 'The Feast of the Epiphany' or 'Little Christmas' as it is sometimes known reflects the gift of Jesus to the world just as the three wise men brought their gifts to the stable in Bethlehem all those years ago.
Revised and updated Policy for 2014:
A revised and updated policy is under review for the year 2014 which incorporates the necessary and relevant references and guidelines in conjunction with the Mission Statement and ethos of St. Mary's College for the successful implementation of Religious Education and Faith Formation in the school.
Interfaith calendar and Intercultural Week:
An interfaith calendar will be displayed in the school in order to promote the value and importance of other faiths and denominations. The R.E. Department will look at and explore the possibility of implementing an 'Intercultural Week' within the school to complement this.
Promotion of compassion and awareness:
Our Random Acts of Kindness campaign has begun in an effort to promote kindness, compassion and selflessness and is being rolled out amongst the whole school community this month. This will coincide with the 'Cycle against Suicide ' event which our school will host very soon. This event and others like them aim to foster an appreciation of mental health for physical well-being and to make our students aware of the selfless nature of helping others and of being compassionate, caring and understanding - values all outlined in the Gospel Message and vision of Catherine McCauley.
St.Mary's College celebrated some very special and significant events these past few weeks. Last month saw the climax of the 'Wear Your Faith' initiative as some 200 students from all year groups voluntarily chose to come to the Assembly Hall for the formal Blessing of the Rosary Beads. Fr.P.J led what was a very emotive ceremony which saw veneration given to Our Blessed Mother of the Rosary and culminated with all students saying a decade of the Rosary together in thanksgiving, having been blessed by Holy Water. It was a lovely occasion and one which impacted on those both present and beyond.
Following this we had the Blessing of the newly decorated Prayer Room and installation of the First Class Relic of Saint Padre Pio into our newly acquired Reliquary which was mounted on a wooden frame with stained glass inserts specifically for us by Arthur Burke. Staff, students, Members of the Board, Members of the Parents Council and representatives of the Mercy Sisters were also present to help us celebrate this very significant event. We are very grateful to have the First Class Relic of Saint Padre Pio in our school and have no doubt that through continued devotion to him we will see a steady commitment to faith within our school and beyond, even filtering out into the wider community.
The St.Vincent De Paul Food Appeal is under way and will be a whole school effort. Students will donate non-perishable food items which will be distributed to needy families in the form of food hampers before Christmas. The fundraising carried out by Third Years for the relief of those stricken by the recent natural disater in the Philippians was very successsful with well over one thousand euros being raised within the school. Other charitable events such as Bake Sales and Rag Days have taken place within the school and their success is testament to the brilliant ethos of compassion and faith in action which St.Marys students display continuously.
Our 'Random Acts of Kindness' initiative is underway and will see students endeavouring to do a random act of kindness for someone without expecting anything in return. Students who have been on the recieving end of this act of kindness will then write the action carried out for them on a previously prepared 'hand' template and stick it to the wall. In this way we hope to create a continuous chain of 'helping hands' throughout the school which will bear witness to the efforts of our students to live out the Gospel message of treating others as they themselves would like to be treated. We aim to be 'The Kindest School in Kildare' and this project will be a whole school effort.
Our John Paul 2 students have been doing great work, helping out with activities both within the school and in the wider community. They are attending a retreat today in the Holy Family Secondary School and are proving to be a bunch of very dedicated and committed girls.
We will have the Sacrament of Confession next week in the Prayer Room for all sudents and staff should they wish to attend. Fr. P.J. will be available throughout lunch-time and beyond depending on demand. The Religion and Music Departments are busy preparing for our Christmas Mass which never fails to lift the spirits and is a truly wonderful start to the festive season with the focus being primarily on the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. The theme will be 'Mercy and Love' as we endeavour to remind our students that peace, forgivness and love are the best gifts we can give to each other at this magical time of year.
September - November News from the Religion Department
The Religion Department have been very busy this term so far. We have introduced a new textbook for Senior Cycle Religion which is in line with the non-curriculum framework guidelines for religious education. All fifth year students now have this book and the scheme of work which will also be rolled out to specific sixth year classes. Alongside this, much work is being done in the area of faith development. Due to the success of the 'Wear Your Faith' initiative last year Bronwyn Cuddy and Irene Woods will run it again this year in conjunction with Pope Francis' dedication of the world to Our Blessed Mother this month. We hope to have our 'Blessing of the Beads' ceremony with Fr.P.J. before mid-term and as an off-shoot we hope to continue the renewal of prayer by setting up a prayer group in the school.
The Prayer Room has been redecorated in order to make it more inviting to students especially for the purpose of personal pprayer and reflection alongside meditations etc. Irene Woods, Ann Buckley,Olive Humphries and Sinead Cleary have done a wonderful job so far and it is a resource to be proud of. Another initiative which we have gotten off the ground this year is 'The Yellow Windmill' initiative which is being piloted by Irene Woods and Bronwyn Cuddy to include fifth years. The idea for this initiative was borne out of the visibility of a solitary yellow windmill which sat atop the railings of an elderly resident's balcony in the Nás na Ríogh housing complex and which merrily spun rain,hail or snow. The windmill is symbolic of hope and with this in mind we decided to encourage our students to become actively involved in the community and to bear witness to the message in the Gospel of Matthew:25. With this vision in mind the first group of fifth years have gone over to the residents of Naas na Riogh and have spent an hour and a half just chatting, playing board games and sharing the home-made bakes which they prepared specially for the residents. A lot of careful planning is going into this initiative but it was a great experience for all involved and very humbling for our students as they realised that people can feel isolated, no matter what age. We hope to further this by working closely with St.Vincent De Paul this Winter and aim to branch out into the wider community with our students leading the way in helping the elderly in the locality especially during the harsh Winter months.
We will have more on this next term and hope to roll it out amongst all year groups eventually in order to foster a sense of charity, collective responsibility in our society and compassion in our school as a whole in keeping with the Mercy Ethos. We are also taking on the John Paul 2 Awards and aim to have at least 10 girls who will take on this very rewarding challenge. Irene and Bronwyn as the school award leaders will be working closely with Grace Keevans , Caithriona Kelly and Fr.P.J. in the implementation and development of this project and aim to help as many students as possible successfully complete this Award which bears testimony to a living faith among young people. Arlene Curry has organised a sixth year in-house Retreat which is specifically faith and prayer centered for our sixth years on the 24 th October and we anticipate a very moving and reflective experience for all students. The Transiton Year teachers are organising the Harvest Festival with T.Y's which focuses on giving thanks to God for all that we have and the gifts of the earth. Finally we are very excited to have Fr.P.J come into the school and speak to all classes about the mercy and love of God. Fr. P.J will meet all class groups in an effort to foster a closer relationship between the work and mission of the Church and the complimentary role which this Ceist school plays in that relationship. This is also an opportunity for the students to become better acquainted with Fr.P.J as their school Chaplain and will add another dimension to the pastoral and faith dimension of our school.
October - November 2013
In order to further deepen the Catholic ethos of our school in St. Mary's great strides continue to be made in the areas of faith development and the promotion of a Christian lifestyle within the school community. Our newly decorated Prayer Room is almost complete and we are very excited and privileged to be able to claim the honour of having in our school a first class relic of Padre Pio thanks to our Principal Rita McCabe. The relic will be housed in a beautiful bronze reliquary which was acquired for us by Sr. Brigid and for which we are most grateful. Arthur Burke is working on the mounting of this reliquary to the wall in the Prayer Room where it will be on display for the school community with an eternal light underneath as a sign of its sacredness and we are very grateful to Arthur for all of his hard work also. In order to highlight this occasion the Prayer Room will be Blessed by Fr.PJ, our school chaplain, in the coming weeks and the preparations for this ceremony are already underway.
Our students are continuing to visit the residents of Nás na Ríogh in our efforts to promote the Christian premise of faith in action. This initiative is proving to be very successful and is thoroughly enjoyed by the girls and residents alike. The girls share a cup of tea and some home-made cake with the residents while exchanging stories and a lovely, caring atmosphere pervades the entire event. As an off-shoot of this our students are now involved in the packaging and distribution of the 'Message in a Bottle' initiative which is being run in conjunction with Naas Lions Club. This scheme ensures that elderly members of the community will have a clearly labelled medicine box which will be kept in their fridge. This box will list the medications and dosages relevant for the person should an emergency situation arise and should provide invaluable information for the emergency services and friends and family alike.
During the month of November prayers were said over the intercom on behalf of the souls in Purgatory and also in remembrance of those who have gone before us. Many Prayer Services have also been held within the various religion classes in remembrance of the Holy Souls and will continue throughout this month. We are also continuing with our Padre Pio centered renewal of faith initiative and once again Bernie has been in to talk to various class groups and has brought with her Padre Pio's mitt for the students to bless themselves with if they should so wish.
Our sixth Years had their Retreat in school this month and an enjoyable, reflective day was had by all with special thanks to Arlene Curry for its organisation and Mr. Diamond for facilitating the event. As usual the sixth years have once again been paired with Prayer Partners from the Mercy Order and we are very grateful to the Sisters involved for taking the time to pray for our students throughout this stressful time.
On going efforts are being made in order to keep the spirit of generosity and compassion for others alive in our school and many Charity events are being promoted in light of this. Preparations for the St. Vincent De Paul Hamper Appeal are underway and this project will be a whole school effort. We hope to fill as many boxes as possible with non-perishable foods and in turn create food hampers which can then be distributed in time for Christmas to those less fortunate within our community. The Transition Year students will co-ordinate this project. In relation to the recent natural disaster in the Philippines, Tara O'Shea's third year C.S.P.E students are attempting to raise awareness of the plight of the victims and in so doing raise money in order to help alleviate their suffering in any way we can.
St.Mary's are also hosting the first stop of the Cycle for Suicide Campaign which aims to raise awareness of suicide and its devastating effects on individuals and families alike. This is a major awareness raising campaign which will culminate in a cycle and many of our staff members are taking part in this worthy cause. In conjunction with this, some of staff have agreed to volunteer with 'Rainbows' which is an organisation which aims to help students who have suffered a loss in their lives either through bereavement or divorce. Training for those involved will take place in February.
Our 'Wear Your Faith' initiative is proving to be successful in the area of faith renewal once again and we aim to have our 'Blessing of the Beads' ceremony before the end of November. In the area of our Christian call to Stewardship our chicken rehabilitation programme is going very well and has proven to be very popular with our students. They are learning about our responsibility towards the earth and the creatures with which God has entrusted us and also on a more basic level our girls are acquiring animal husbandry skills and a sense of commitment and personal responsibility. Various talks have been ongoing across the year groups including talks an alcohol awareness organised by Olive Humphries which aim to equip our girls with the information needed in order to make positive decisions with regards to their lifestyle choices, especially outside of our school community.
We also hope to promote a 'Random Acts of Kindness' Campaign in our school in the coming months so that our school community will continue to show the respect and concern for each other which is the hallmark of Christian living.