Future of Catholic Schools, News archive 2011

Homily of Bishop Brendan Kelly for the Mass opening Catholic Schools Week 2011 broadcast by RTÉ1 television

PRESS RELEASE
30 January 2011

Homily of Bishop Brendan Kelly for the Mass opening Catholic Schools Week 2011 broadcast by RTÉ1 television

  • Cardinal Brady introduces short documentary on Catholic schools in advance of Mass broadcast
Bishop Brendan Kelly, Bishop of Achonry and chair of the Council for Education of the Irish Bishops’ Conference, today celebrated Mass to open Catholic Schools Week.  This Mass was transmitted by RTÉ1 television from its Donnybrook studios.  The choir for the Mass was provided by the pupils of St Clare’s Primary School, Harold’s Cross Road, Dublin.

Prior to the celebration of this Mass, Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, introduced a short documentary highlighting the value and contribution that Catholic schools make to our parish communities. Please see below homily of Bishop Kelly followed by list of participating schools in the short documentary:

Homily

The theme chosen for the all–Ireland celebration of Catholic Schools Week this year is ‘Catholic Schools- Rooted in Jesus Christ’.

The theme is adapted from the Pastoral Letter of the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI to the Catholics of Ireland which was published last March.  This Pastoral Letter was written to a people convulsed by the revelations of abuse of children in our church over many years. How could church people stray so far from our roots in Jesus, who so attracted people in His person and by His word, as we have just heard?

The Gospel story today tells us that on the mountain with his disciples, Jesus began to teach the crowd. This is the same Jesus in whom we all and the schools we establish seek to be rooted – rooted not in any idea or philosophy merely, but in the person of Jesus.

Our schools, then, are as it were groups of people who gather with the crowd in that vast classroom under the warm Galilean sky that was that mountainside. Jesus was never more a teacher that on that day, model for all who would teach, be they parents, professional teachers, or institutions established to instruct and enable people to grow and become their very best selves.

Jesus’ mountainside classroom that day was a wide, spacious, open-to-all-the-world room. It was and is open to all people, but especially to those who were afflicted, to people who know their need, need of someone who will heal, a Saviour.  People who need to be safe, in my own skin.  That is the model on which Catholic schools are built.

And this great Teacher’s first message to the people who sat before Him that day was extraordinary, and must have surprised them, to say the least: ‘Blessed are you who are poor…’. Already, as you are, before any cure, you are blessed.  Not because you are perfect and don’t need anything, but precisely because you do.  It is precisely your need that blesses you.  That is what makes you, right now, close to God.

There was revolution in the words Jesus spoke, as there was revolution in the life He lived.  And the lesson to be learned at His school was that being human, with all that that implies of limitation, but also of capability and aspiration, this is what makes us blessed. To be a man or woman means to be needy, to feel so small and weak, to be sore and to grieve, to cry out for justice and fair play, to long for healing; but being human also means a capacity for mercy and forgiveness, to be peacemaker, to suffer and be slandered for standing up for what is right.

And all of this is what makes us blessed, and brings us already into the happiness of God.

Jesus’ mountainside classroom that day was a wide, spacious, open-to-all-the-world room.  It was and is open to all people, but especially to those who were afflicted, to people who know their need, need of someone who will heal, a Saviour. People who need to be safe, in my own skin. That’s the model on which Catholic schools are built.

And this great Teacher’s first message to the people who sat before Him that day was extraordinary, and must have surprised them, to say the least: ‘Blessed are you who are poor…’. Already, as you are, before any cure, you are blessed. Not because you are perfect and don’t need anything, but precisely because you do. It is precisely your need that blesses you. That is what makes you, right now, close to God.

There was revolution in the words Jesus spoke, as there was revolution in the life He lived.  And the lesson to be learned at His school was that being human, with all that that implies of limitation, but also of capability and aspiration, this is what makes us blessed. To be a man or woman means to be needy, to feel so small and weak, to be sore and to grieve, to cry out for justice and fair play, to long for healing; but being human also means a capacity for mercy and forgiveness, to be peacemaker, to suffer and be slandered for standing up for what is right.

And all of this is what makes us blessed, and brings us already into the happiness of God.

In all of this, Jesus himself, His life and words on the Mount is the template for all who would be human in the deepest and best sense, and for all who would lead others into the fullness of humanity, which is why we are in this world at all. Jesus is the model therefore for every teacher, every parent, everyone who serves on a school Board. Like Him, looking out on our young people, we recognize the stunning beauty, the unique and irreplaceable gift that is each child as she or he is, the potential for good.

And we establish schools that will first and foremost recognize the beauty, the capability, the eternal capacity of each child, and then call all of this forth in each one of them.  We want them to know their dignity and their wholeness as men and women.  And that they will have no need to pretend or compete.

Lord, help us to create schools that are welcoming to all, open like your great classroom on the Mount.  Schools where children find reassurance, confidence and faith, so they will become, like you, true servants of their brothers and sisters, especially those who are needy, revealing to them in turn their blessedness and so bringing them to the very fullness of life.

Our schools then exist to ensure today what Jesus ensures, that no matter how the world may view a person as foolish or weak or low or despised, each child, regardless of ability, colour, race, or family background will come to know that he or she is chosen, chosen by God, precious to Him, and loved with a love that lasts forever.

AMEN

Notes to editors

 

  • This year Catholic Schools Week runs from 31 January to 6 February. A special Catholic Schools Week web feature is now available on www.catholicbishops.ie and it hosts information and resources for use by schools in the North and South.
  • The schools involved in the documentary produced by Kairos are:  St. Francis Xavier Junior School, Castleknock, Dublin; St Nathy’s College, Ballaghadereen; Holy Rosary Nursery School, Belfast; Christ the Redeemer Primary School, Belfast; St Comgall’s Primary School, Bangor; Presentation Primary School Portadown; Holy Child Primary School, Belfast; Good Shepherd Primary School, Belfast; St Genevieve’s High School, Belfast; St Columbanus College, Bangor; St Catherine’s College, Armagh; and Aquinas Grammar School in Belfast.

 

ENDS

Further information:
Martin Long, Catholic Communications Office, 00353 (0) 86 172 7678

 

 

 

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