On the Day

Bishop Denis Nulty celebrated Mass in Portlaoise Parish Church on Tuesday, January 27th for Catholic Schools Week.

He then went to Bless and turn the sod at the 10 acre site in Aughnaharna, Portlaoise where two 24 classroom schools are under construction.

The site was purchased by Portlaoise Parish for €1.25million.  The two new schools will facilitate the almagamation of 3 long established schools in the Parish, St.Paul’s/Scoil Mhuire/Sacred Heart.


Catholic Schools Week in Portlaoise Parish: 27.01.15 

Do you know how many Catholic Primary Schools are in the Diocese? 173! And how many young people in those schools? At last count: 36,307 [Boys: 17,669; Girls: 18,638]!  And how many teachers? 2,034! That sure has the potential for many hours of homework!!!

Do you know how many Secondary Schools are in the Diocese? 39. How many Religion Teachers in those schools? 205. How many pupils attending? 22,505! There are 4 Secondary Schools directly under my patronage, they are: Knockbeg; St. Mary’s, Edenderry; St. Paul’s, Monasterevin & Holy Family, Newbridge!

Do you know how many parishes are in the Diocese? 56. And how do you know how many churches there are in the Diocese? There are 117. My Confirmation Journey around those churches in the Diocese soon will begin in  Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Skeoughvosteen in County Kilkenny!

Here in Portlaoise Parish, you have four secondary schools, two of them are voluntary Secondary Schools: St. Mary’s CBS & Scoil Chríost Rí. The other two secondary schools are Portlaoise College and St. Francis Special School. The total number of pupils attending secondary school this morning in Portlaoise is 1,875.

And then turning to the Primary Schools. There are nine Catholic Primary Schools in Portlaoise Parish – Gaelscoil Phortlaoise; Kolbe Special School; Ratheniska NS; St. Francis Special School; St. Paul’s NS; Sacred Heart School; Scoil an Fhraoich Mhóir; Scoil Bhríde and Scoil Mhuire. The total number of pupils attending primary school this morning in Portlaoise Parish is 2,912. 

The new school building project that will see the amalgamation of three existing schools – St. Paul’s, Sacred Heart and Scoil Mhuire becoming the new Holy Family Junior and Senior Schools – is a huge investment by the Parish into Primary Education provision here for future generations. The site alone cost €1.25M, already paid for by the parish, spearheaded by Mgr. John Byrne. In fact every aspect of this most important school project in our diocese is led by Mgr. Byrne – on your behalf, on the teachers and pupils behalf, I thank him. He continues to manage every aspect of this project.

Catholic Schools Week has been celebrated in Ireland for the last five years. This annual event calls on Catholic schools like those here in Portlaoise to give expression in a special way to a particular aspect of Catholic education. This theme of Catholic Schools Week 2015 is ‘Catholic Schools: Called to Serve’.

This call to serve comes from Christ himself. Jesus is called ‘teacher’ on forty-six occasions in the Gospels. It is the title most commonly associated with him by his first followers. So what did Jesus teach? In the villages, hills and valleys of Galilee he taught the people that the reign of God was dawning in their midst. He spoke of the reign of God as healing for the sick, hearing for the deaf, new sight for the blind, freedom for prisoners and good news for the poor.

Serve, as a word, is a call to action. ‘Catholic Schools: Called to Serve’ resonates very well with my own episcopal motto ‘Serve the Lord with Gladness’. As a concept, to serve is an integral element of Jesus’ mission in the Gospels. Education is a platform from which all are called to serve – parents, teachers, students, community and the wider world. In particular, Catholic schools place at the centre of their ethos an identity with the mission of Jesus Christ, who continually calls all who hear his voice to serve.

I am delighted to have joined you for Catholic Schools Week, I look forward to being back with you for your Novena on March 8th; for Confirmation here on March 21st; for the Jubilee of this beautiful Church dedicated to St. Peter and Paul on July 4th and for the blessing of the extended site and the work of building a new 32 classroom school for Scoil Bhríde which I hope will commence shortly. May we all be blessed this Catholic Schools Week!