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Bishop Denis’ address at Mass in Graiguecullen celebrating Catholic Schools Week 2024

Catholic Schools: Communities of ServiceService in our School Community

Welcome: Knockbeg TY & Teachers & Parishioners

What is the week about? It is an invitation to reflect on and celebrate the work of Catholic Schools in our parishes and communities.

Todays gospel comes from St. Mark, it is concerned with the family of Jesus arriving and not really understanding what He is about. It is early in His ministry. “Who are my mother and my brothers?” – those who do God’s will. How do we know God’s will?

A Catholic School is about opening yourself up to an understanding of God’s will. Earlier this morning I was letter of recommendation for a young man, who like you, a few years ago was a student of Transition Year. He is now in fourth year in the College. All the projects he was involved with in school have shaped him into the young man he has become today, a Minister of Holy Communion, a Prayer Leader, participating in an outreach to Africa, his hope is to get a scholarship to study the Masters Programme in a University in the States.

So what does a Catholic School do? For some it’s the excellence of the academic, sporting and extra curriculum programmes it offers, the results are good, so we go there. For more it is the more general and broad contribution that attending a Catholic School offers the wider society, you are there to make a difference not just to your school but to the wider society.

Our first reading from the second Book of Samuel shows how the young King David danced as the ark of the covenant with God was being carried into its proper place. Every school needs spaces and places for reflection, quietness and prayer. Yesterday visiting three schools, Scoil Mhuire gan Smal, St. Josephs NS and Bishop Foley School I noticed their Prayer Spaces. The Prayer Space in Knockbeg is very important, as is your lovely new chapel and indeed the space, currently under development outside where Stations of the Cross will be erected allowing somewhere to meet God in the nature and the elements around us.

Every classroom in a Catholic School should have something in it ( a Cross / a Statue) to clearly state it is a Catholic School. And a Catholic School welcomes everyone and respects fully other faith traditions and none, but in that respect, we should keep to the fore in a respectful way our own beliefs, traditions and practices.

We live in a very diverse world. It is too easy to say ‘No’. It is too easy to join a picket line and protest. There is always a need for better communication, better messaging but we must always keep the bigger picture to the fore. Those coming to our country are fleeing persecution, war, violence; they are in dire need of refuge and a roof over their heads. They deserve whatever help can be offered, even if it causes the rest of us to have to go the extra mile. This is what a Catholic education, a one framed in the parameters of Catholic Social Teaching is all about.

This is what Catholic Schools Week is all about – Respecting Ourselves, Respecting our School Community and Respecting Everyone Else who is a part of that Community.  Respect is the hinge that keeps our schools together.

Blessed Carlo Acutis, pray for us.
St. Clare, pray for us.
St. Francis, pray for us.
St. Fiacc, pray for us.