6th Year Graduation: The 6th years had their graduation mass in the Church of the Irish Martyrs in Ballycane on Thursday night, May 17th, 2018. Fr. Liam Morgan celebrated what was a wonderful mass, complete with music and song led by Mr. Lannigan. With its thematic focus, "Carpe diem, seize the day", it was a very special occasion, complete with an opening ceremony of light, penitential rite, reading and reflection, prayers of the faithful and dressing of the altar.
Engaging and memorable speeches from head-girl, Mia Sherry, deputy head-girl, Eimear Ryan and principal, Ms. McCabe preceded a much-enjoyed slide-show, after which everyone gathered for photos and refreshments, which had been organised by the Parents Council.
TY Graduation: On Wednesday, May 23rd, 142 Transition Year students had their graduation ceremony in the sports hall. The evening began with a prayer service, focusing on the theme of 'journey'. Mr. Lanigan and Ms. Elliott enhanced the prayer service with music and song. Posters on the sports hall walls testified to a very busy year. Students were then presented with their TY certificates and awards. Various sporting and academic awards were also presented.
Again, the Parents Council supplied refreshments afterwards. It was a lovely night to celebrate what had been a very successful year.
2nd Year Retreat: The second-year retreat took place in Glendalough on Tuesday, May 1st and Thursday, May 3rd. All second-year classes attended the retreat on these days with their RE teachers and Cairdeas leaders. Despite rather damp conditions, a great day was had by all!
Prayer room: Sr. Brigid decorated the reception area of the school in honour of Our Lady. Many classes had end-of-year prayer services in the prayer room, acknowledging and celebrating all that had happened during the year.
February - March 2018
As an overt, spiritual support to LC exam students during their Mock exams, a sacred space area was created upstairs in the McAuley building, complete with candles and prayer cards.
Lent began on Ash Wednesday, February 14th, during mid-term. Resources from Margaret Farrell, Post-Primary Diocesan Advisor for Religious Education, were sent to the RE staff. They are excellent resources to support our annual focus on Lent and Trocaire. They included the following –
- Lent in Three Minutes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xo1mjuy1NA0
- Resources for Moment Three – Lent - https://www.catholicschools.ie/post-primary-school-resources-csw-2018/
- and on the Kandle website at https://www.kandle.ie/resources/post-primary-resources/
In RE classes, the importance of the three spiritual disciplines; fasting, prayer and almsgiving (or charity) are being focused on in the season of Lent. We hope to have a school 'Blue Day' on Tuesday, March 13th. Only students fund-raising for Trocaire may wear blue clothing on the day. Trocaire's focus this year continues to be on climate change and its effects on environments, particularly in Sierra Leone.
Talks on health, happiness and resilience on Wed., Feb 21, were delivered by Shane Martin, to 6th year students. His thoughts about nurturing one's spiritual life, as well as his focus on fostering compassion, thinking rationally, doing what you love, setting goals, living a purposeful life and so on, were received with enormous enthusiasm by the students.
We hope to bring three students to the CEIST Student leadership Conference, on Tuesday, March 13th. These students will deliver workshops to other schools at the Conference, regarding ethos and faith development initiatives in St. Mary's.
We also hope to support preparations for the World Meeting of Families which takes place in Dublin, in August. The CEIST conference on Monday, Feb 5th, 2018, in Athlone, focused on how the event takes place every three years since it began in Rome, initiated by Saint John Paul II in 1994. 81 keynote speakers will be delivering speeches/workshops during the WMOF, over 20,000 people per day are anticipated as attending the event. Volunteers are needed and we envisage that John Paul II leaders may be able to help in this regard.
Intercom announcements drew students' attention to the fact that Hilda Campbell, now Pastoral Administrative Assistant in Naas, is starting a new Youth Group in the parish. The first meeting took place on Wed., Feb. 21st, 4.30 - 6 pm, in Mc Auley Place.
The RSE programme is being delivered to all junior and senior SPHE and RE classes in the forthcoming weeks.
The lighthouse leaders made a Gratitude Wall at reception. Religion classes were encouraged to reflect on what they have in their lives to be thankful for. It quickly became a wonderfully positive, colourful and thought-provoking focal point for us as a school community.
On our return to school, (Jan, 8th, 2018) the year ahead was focused on and prayed for through intercom prayers.
Thursday, January 21st was World Religion Day. Posters pertaining to the 'Golden Rule' that characterises all religions were placed in reception and a prayer, referencing the importance of celebrating and respecting each other's religious beliefs, was read on the intercom.
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, held the retreat on Friday, Jan. 26th, 2018. Activities involved morning assembly and prayers, a drama enacting the story of St. Brigid, class-based activities, cross-building and mass. The day focused on the theme of friendship. Meitheal leaders and John Paul II TY students assisted in the day's activities and their terrific support was very much appreciated. The day concluded with Fr. Liam celebrating mass in honour of St. Brigid in the parish church.
Mr. Gerry Keegan gave the 5th year retreat, delivered to three class groups each day, over the course of Tuesday, Jan. 23rd and Wednesday, Jan 24th, 2018.
National Catholic Schools Week 2018 took place this year from Sun. Jan 28 - Sat. Feb 4, 2018.
The theme for the week was - 'Catholic schools - families of faith'. The week forms part of the one-year catechetical programme for Catholic primary and post-primary schools, designed in preparation for the World Meeting of Families 2018 which will be held in Dublin from 21–26 August 2018. There, families and others from all over the world will gather to celebrate their lives together, to share their experiences from different parts of the world, to reflect on the different challenges they face and to grow together in faith.
The theme for this programme is 'Catholic Schools: Called to be a Family of Families'. The programme invites Catholic schools to reflect on and celebrate the relationship that exists between home, school and parish through participation in four sub-themed catechetical moments; (1) families of hope, (2) of faith, (3) of love and (4) of joy. Intercom prayers were read daily during the week by students, acknowledging everyone in their school, parish and family who plays a key role in developing their faith. In addition, posters were made. The poster in reception, made by sixth years, focused on imagery of the Sacred Heart and the importance of faith and academics in a Catholic school. Other posters around the school celebrated the role of teachers in pupils' lives, included pupils' favourite biblical sayings and acknowledged the significance of altruism and generosity in our daily lives.
On December 6th, 2017, John Paul II leader Grace Keevans, accompanied students to their Awards Ceremony in Carlow. Receiving Bronze John Paul II awards were - Nicole Jordan and Lauren Jordan, 5th year. Receiving Gold awards were - Sarah Freely, Anna Rooney, Hannah Divney, Molly Behan-Cahill, Alannah Gill, Cliodhna O'Neill and Claire McNamee in 5th year. Receiving Papal Cross awards were Andrina Faherty, Jennifer Carroll and Eimear Ryan in 6th year and Anna Keevans in 5th year.
The school crib, an Advent wreath, posters, the Jesse tree and stained glass window effects were just some of the artefacts used to decorate the reception area, trophy press area and the prayer room for Advent and Christmas. The Student Council did not light the lights on the Christmas tree until December 8th. Prayers acknowledging the feast of the Immaculate Conception and other Advent prayers were read over the intercom each week for Advent.
Class prayer services are being organised by all teachers and celebrated in the prayer room, during Advent.
On Monday, December 4th, 2017, we acknowledged the death of past colleague, Dympna Murray-Fennell. A prayer in her honour was read over the intercom and a photo of her was placed in the school's reception area, surrounded by flowers and candles.
Faith-in-action events -
Over 200 shoe-boxes were made by students in the school for the charity, Team Hope. They were collected on Friday, November 24th, 2017. Team Hope were delighted at the very positive response by the students to this initiative.
The annual St. Vincent de Paul food-drive also took place on the week of Dec. 4th - 8th, 2017. John Paul II Award students accepted food gifts each morning in the Assembly hall. 29 boxes of food were collected by the charity on the morning of Dec. 8th. 4T and 1L were especially helpful on the final day of the drive, in boxing and delivering the collected food-gifts.
Our Christmas mass took place on Thursday, December 21st, in the parish church, celebrated by F. Liam and supported by Mr. D. Lanigan, Ms. M. Mannion, the school choir and orchestra. Our heartfelt thanks.
Our reception area and prayer room were decorated by our John Paull II students focusing on the theme 'In November we remember'. Prayers were read over the intercom on Monday mornings, throughout the month. Staff and students are invited to visit the Prayer Room during November to write the names of deceased loved ones on the tree of remembrance. These actions mirror those at parish level, connecting our school to our outlying parishes and communities.
Preparations for Christmas have begun. Many students are putting together shoe boxes for the Team Hope Christmas appeal. As a result of consultation with the Student Council, junior students in the school will be asked to prepare bag-packs for the homeless, one pack per class. Senior students will be asked to contribute to the St. Vincent de Paul food-drive.
Christmas Mass will take place on Thursday, December 21st, at 2.30 pm.
Daily intercom references drew Students' attention to the Parish Novena, October 6th - 14th 2017.
In addition to the curriculum this month, RE classes focused on the Rosary and mission awareness.
John Paul II students, with support from RE classes, decorated the prayer room and reception area of the school. In their work, they especially focused on the message of Pope Franciswhere he has asked that, as part of the Church's focus on families, we should remember three basic phrases, 'Please', 'Thank You' and 'I am sorry'. John Paul II students will sell Rosary beads to first year students, encouraging them to develop their prayer life. The bracelets were supplied by St. Martin Apostolate in support of our 'Wear your Faith' initiative. Fr. Liam Morgan will bless the bracelets, later in the year.
TYs went on retreat to Emmaus, Swords, Co. Dublin, on Tuesday, Oct 17th and on Thursday, October 19th. Harvest Festival was celebrated on Monday,
October 23rd, in the Assembly Hall.
Friday morning break-time prayer in the Prayer Room is resuming. All students are welcome.
We welcome new RE teachers, Ms. Doheny and Mr. Whelan to the RE team. Ms. Cuddy and Ms. O Humphreys are this year's RE Coordinators.
Mercy Day Mass was held on Friday, Sept 22nd. Fr. Liam celebrated the mass at 11.45a.m. The Music Dept., as always, gave their full support to enhance our celebration.
Our Faith Development plan for the year is being updated maintaining many of our faith initiatives from last year. We will enlist the support of our John Paul II Awardstudents in decorating the prayer room and school reception area for various liturgical events and seasons throughout the year.
RE teachers brought first year classes to the Prayer room to see the relic of Padre Pio and learn about his prayer - 'Pray, hope and don't worry'.