The Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland, Archbishop Charles Brown, paid his first visit to Co Antrim on Wednesday 11th when he accepted an invitation to visit St Killian’s College Garron Tower.
The New York native met pupils and staff on his arrival before concelebrating Mass for the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes in the school chapel. He then addressed the student body in the Gym, before joining staff and invited guests for lunch.
Archbishop Brown was joined on altar by Bishop Noel Treanor, Fr Tim Bartlett (chairman of the Board of Governors) and a number of former students of Garron Tower including Frs David Delargy, Martin and Eugene O’Hagan (aka The Priests) and Fr Dermot McKay and Fr Darren Brennan from the Parish of Ballymena.
Archbishop Brown in his homily spoke of the young age of both Mary and of Bernadette in Lourdes when they were called to God’s ministry, not much different from the ages of the students in front of him. He made reference to the former students of Garron Tower who were now ministering in the Church, including the priests concelebrating the Mass and Bishop Donal McKeown of Derry and Fr Paddy Delargy both of whom attended later in the afternoon. They all most likely got their calling to God’s ministry at a young age as well.
He noted the College motto “Caritas et Veritas” – Nurturing and Truth – and asked the students to be mindful of this motto in their lives both at present and in the future.
During the celebration of Mass, Archbishop Brown commissioned the new St Killian’s College prayer which had been composed by Junior students of the College earlier this year. He expressed his pleasure that young people were taking ownership of the spiritual direction they were receiving in St Killian’s.
Mr Jonny Brady, Principal of St Killian’s College said:
“This is an historic day in the life of the young St Killian’s College (founded 2010) and we are honoured to have Archbishop Brown among us to officially commission our new school prayer. We as a staff and a student body have been impressed by his interest in us and I am sure that this day will live long in the hearts and memories of those who were present.”
Fr Tim Bartlett, Chairman of the Board of Governors, said:
“To have the representative of Pope Francis visit St Killian’s is a tremendous honour but also a comment on the very high regard in which this outstanding educational community, led by the Principal Mr Brady, is held.
“The Nuncio was clearly moved by the prayerfulness of the pupils, by the outstanding music of the choir and the beautiful surroundings. It was a truly great day for the whole school and for the Church on the Antrim Coast. I warmly congratulate all those involved, especially the young women and men of St Killian’s who did themselves very proud today.”
The Nuncio was presented with College cuff links and a specially commissioned wooden ciborium, carved by past pupil Robert O’Connell from a branch that had fallen during a storm from a 160 year old Eucalyptus tree in the College grounds, the oldest of the species in Europe.
Notes for Editors:
Below see a copy of the new St Killian’s College prayer :
St Killian, we ask you to bless and protect us all on our journey through life.
Guide us in our studies and inspire us so that we can make the right choices.
Thank you for all those who help us at the college.
Make our college a safe place for us.
Help our teachers to lead the way.
Teach us to be good learners.
Help our parents to be there for us.
We cannot all do great things but we can all do small things with great love.
Help us to live out our motto, Caritas et Veritas, in our everyday life.