Keynote address by Dr Daire Keogh at the launch of Catholic Schools Week 2013
Bishop Christopher Jones, Bishop of Elphin, was the chief celebrant at a special Mass in the Church of the Sacred Heart, Roscommon, to mark Catholic Schools Week 2013. Following this Mass a discussion took place in the adjacent Scoil Mhuire National School, which was addressed by keynote speaker Dr Daire Keogh. Please see below an overview of Dr Keogh’s address which reflected on the specific nature of a Catholic School.
Dr Keogh set his remarks within the context of the characteristics of effective education, schooling which was about more than the provision of information, but involved ‘formation’, educational excellence which placed children at its heart, moulded students, allowed them to flourish, and contributed to civic society.
Any values based system, however, would claim the same objectives; neither would it suffice to simply say that Catholic schools were ‘special’. Such defences will not fly, particularly in the context of a highly prescriptive state curriculum like Ireland’s.
The challenge for Catholic schools was to articulate their particular vision with confidence, the ‘special character’ which would attract parents and students. In addition to academic excellence and the aspirations above, this would necessarily involve a discussion of a faith based perspective, which interpreted humanity in the context of man’s relationship with God, which understood students as the children of God, the church as God’s family, and prioritised the Gospel values of justice and love.
In this context Dr Keogh welcomed the discussion facilitated by the Forum on Patronage and Pluralism and the movement which it has created. He urged patrons and parents to engage with the implications of the report. The issue at stake was not about governance, authority or school ownership, as was often suggested in media coverage. Rather it was about providing parents with real choice about the kind of school they want.
The provision of Special Character education, schooling of a particular ethos such as Educate Together and Catholic Education, depended on choice and on the necessary freedom for parents to identify the school which best suits their family and philosophy.
Notes to Editors
- Dr Daire Keogh is President of Saint Patrick’s College, Drumcondra, Dublin. This address was delivered on 21 January 2013.
- The objective of CSW 2013 is to celebrate the contribution of Catholic schools to society and to our faith. In this ‘Year of Faith’ schools are encouraged to take time in prayer giving thanks for the gift of faith and praying for growth in faith. In addition, during the week, schools are invited to reflect on the witness of the Christian life that is available in the lives of those around us and in the lives of the saints that we celebrate during CSW (28 January, Saint Thomas Aquinas; 31 January, Saint John Bosco; 1 February, Saint Brigid). Finally CSW 2013 encourages us to look to Christ because faith has its starting and finishing points in Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
- See the dedicated CSW 2013 web feature including video comment by Bishop Brendan Kelly on http://www.catholicbishops.ie/2012/12/03/catholic-schools-week-2013/.
- The six Roscommon schools participating in the national launch of CSW 2013 are:
Post Primary Schools
CBS Roscommon, Abbeytown, Roscommon, Principal: Ms Josephine Connaughton. Ethos: Catholic. Enrolment: 380 (Boys). Patron: Edmund Rice Schools Trust.
Scoil Muire Gan Smal, Convent of Mercy, Roscommon.. Principal: Ms Miriam Hunt. Ethos: Catholic. Enrolment: 567 (Girls). Patron: CEIST
Roscommon Community College, Lisnamult, Roscommon. Principal: Mr Frank Chambers. Ethos: Multi-denominational. Enrolment: 113 (Boys) 49 (Girls). Patron: Roscommon VEC.
Abbey Boys NS, Circular Rd., Roscommon. Principal: Ms Teresa Hand Campbell. Ethos: Catholic. Enrolment: 185 (Boys). Patron: Bishop Christopher Jones
Scoil Mhuire Convent Primary School, Roscommon. Principal: Ms Una Feeley. Ethos: Catholic. Enrolment: 102 (Boys) 330 (Girls): Patron: Bishop Christopher Jones
Gaelscoil de hIde, Cnoc na Crúibe, Ros Comáin. Principal: Orla Ní Chuinneagáin. Ethos: Catholic. Enrolment: 187 (Boys & Girls). Patron: An Foras Patrunachta
- As part of CSW 2013, RTÉ One Television will broadcast 11.15am Mass on Sunday 27 January from its Donnybrook studios, Dublin. Father Kevin Heery, chaplain to Saint Joseph’s Mercy Secondary School, Navan, will celebrate this Mass. Students and staff from Saint Joseph’s will be in attendance. Two choirs from Saint Joseph’s will participate in the liturgy: the Schola and the All Schools Choir. The Schola is a specialised choir made up of girls proficient in music who are given tuition in organ, cantoring, Gregorian chant, choral singing and choral direction. The Schola programme is supported by Bishop Michael Smith, Bishop of Meath. The All Schools Choir is made up of students who take music to Junior and Leaving Certificate. It offers them the opportunity to improve the performing element of the music syllabi and correlates music learning in the class room. The choirs are under the direction of Mr Ephrem Feeley.
- From Monday 28 January to Friday 1 February on RTÉ Radio 1, the daily A Living Word broadcast will be presented by Mr Sean Goan, a member of the steering committee of Catholic Schools Week 2013.
- RTÉ One Television will broadcast Mass from its Donnybrook studios on Sunday 3 February to mark the conclusion of CSW 2013. Students and staff from the Cistercian College at Mount Saint Joseph, Roscrea, Co Tipperary, will participate in this Mass and provide the liturgical music. The celebrant will be the Abbott of Mount Saint Joseph Abbey, Roscrea, the Right Reverend Dom Richard Purcell.
- For CSW 2013 the following resources are available to schools and are available to download from a special web feature: www.catholicbishops.ie/2012/12/03/catholic-schools-week-2013/ These include:
- Pope Benedict XVI reminds us that the universal ‘Year of Faith’ is a time to ‘rediscover the joy of believing’. Share the Good News highlights the synergy between the aims of the of the Year of Faith and the day to day work of the Catholic School: ‘Catholic primary schools in the Republic and in Northern Ireland are required to follow a religious education and formation programme that fosters and deepens children’s Catholic faith.’ (#100 Share the Good News p. 14). The directory comments further that ‘the local Catholic school, a constitutive part of the parish, contributes generously to the children’s faith development, seeking “to inculcate in pupils the qualities of personal integrity and moral courage which are marks of an authentic Christian personality”.’ (#91 Share the Good News p. 131).
For media contact: Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Martin Long 00353 (0) 86 172 7678 and Brenda Drumm 00353 (0) 87 310 4444