Homily of Father Kevin Heery at 11:00am Mass on RTÉ One Television for beginning of Catholic Schools Week 2013
Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith Share the Good News
Today we mark the beginning of “Catholic Schools Week”, and over the next seven days schools in every parish in this country will celebrate their identity, the spirit in which they live, teach and study, from the ringing of the first bell on Monday morning right through to the closing of books on Friday evening, and, most importantly, beyond the school gates.
For we know that school is so much more than pupils and teachers, yes, they’re at the heart of it, but it’s about lives, families and communities, about our parish and the Church. School is about life.
Is it here that lasting friendships form, where thought honed and skill learned, memory and experience, ideals and ideas grow, where virtue and value are nourished, and the well of Faith is drawn from. It is in the midst of the messiness that can be life, it is a good education which gives us that step up. For Catholics then education is not just a right but a responsibility for us to provide and to see it right, maybe that’s why we have such an interest in it.
We learn in the presence of others and for Catholic Schools; we learn with our brothers and sisters in faith. In recent times our schools have, as they have always done, also welcomed children of other faiths and traditions. Our school is a community of faith for at the heart of our school is our Lord Jesus Christ, who not only builds community, but challenges us to live up to that unity. Saint Paul, in the Second Reading uses the great image of the perfect community, the body, where no one part can say to the other you’re not important or valued, but where one is hurt, all share that pain, where one is given special honour, all parts share the glory.
In our parish of Navan and our school community tragedies have struck hard over the years, it was a school that grieved and shared the loss, and it was a school that was able to comfort one another in the solace of our shared hope and faith.
I grew up through Catholic Schools, remembering with great fondness my first teacher, Sister Maureen, a Presentation sister, who thank God is still alive today, albeit enjoying retirement, who gave me the example of the joy of knowing and serving our Lord Jesus, especially in others. Through the rest of my years in primary school and secondary school the vision of Blessed Edmund Rice in the Christian Brothers tradition was set before my eyes by the example of good teachers. The vision that good education is right for all children, not just those who can afford it. That education is worth the hard work and sacrifice of the founders of our schools, and today the efforts of countless volunteers and parishioners who live out their Catholic faith by serving on Boards of Management.
Now as a chaplain to this community of faith of Saint Joseph’s Mercy Secondary School of Navan, I want to see the ties of community strengthened and deepened, to witness the Gospel passage of today becoming real in lives young and old, that the poor will be brought the Good News, freedom to prisoners, the downtrodden set free, and to those who are blind, new sight. But we can only do so by allowing Christ to be the centre of our community.
The Theme for Catholic Schools Week is Communities of Faith; Sharing the Good News. We have begun the Year of Faith, an invitation for people to rediscover the joy of believing, of moving closer to Our Lord in the celebration of His Sacraments and allowing his love to shine out in the world through us.
At the end of our time in this school community of faith may we truly realise that “this text is being fulfilled in our time”.
Notes to Editors
- Father Kevin Heery, chaplain to Saint Joseph’s Mercy Secondary School, Navan, was celebrant for this Sunday's televised Mass. Students and staff from Saint Joseph’s were in attendance. Two choirs from Saint Joseph’s participated 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 the choir members 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.
- On each morning next week Mr Sean Goan of the CSW 2013 steering committee will contribute to RTÉ Radio 1's A Living Word broadcast.
- For the conclusion of CSW 2013, RTÉ One Television will broadcast Mass from its Donnybrook studios on Sunday 3 February. 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.
- Schools throughout Ireland have been furnished with dedicated CSW 2013 resources in English, Irish and Polish. These resources can be accessed by downloading material from a special web feature on: www.catholicbishops.ie/2012/12/03/catholic-schools-week-2013/ These resources include:
- Pope Benedict XVI reminds us that during this year – the universal ‘Year of Faith’ – we are offered an opportunity 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 p14). 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 p131)
For media contact: Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Martin Long 00353 (0) 86 172 7678