Bishop Denis presided at this very beautiful ceremony which was attended by staff and pupils from all nine Primary Schools in Naas – six of them under the Bishop’s patronage: Mercy Convent, Primary; Scoil an Linbh Íosa; Scoil Bhríde; St. Corban’s Boys N.S.; Two Mile House & Sallins N.S. and three under a different patronage: Gaelscoil Nás na Ríogh; Killashee Multi-Denominational N.S. and Naas Community N.S. Currently there are 4,065 pupils attending primary education in Naas. During the ceremony, each of the schools were presented with a copy of the Children’s Catholic Bible for every class, an enormously generous contribution by Fr. Liam Morgan PP Naas and the parish team there. The bible is the one recommended by our Diocesan Religious Advisor, Maeve Mahon who was also present at the ceremony.
The celebration lasted about thirty minutes, included hymns, readings and prayers of the faithful recited by different pupils. In his homily at the liturgy, Bishop Denis encouraged the young people to be people who used their heads, their hands and their hearts. He reminded them of his recent Ad Limina visit to Rome with all the other Bishops, where education was a very frequent topic for discussion. He thanked the Principals and Staff for their great commitment to education, and recalled his own school days where every pupil knew the teacher and the priest very well, such was the concept of school and parish and how closely they were embedded.
The theme for Catholic Schools Week 2017 is rooted in Pope Francis’s encyclical ‘Laudato Si’: “learning with Pope Francis to care for our common home”. The best educators amongst us often are the younger children who take great pride in serving on the Green Schools Committee, who understand recycling and have grown up in an era of understanding better the environment around them. Bishop Denis particularly thanked the children present for the example they continue to give all of us in caring more deeply and appreciating more keenly the planet around us. On the particular day of Catholic Schools Week, dedicated to Grandparents, he reminded all present that often it is the grandparent who childmind, who supply the evening meal, who do the school run and they should never be taken for granted.
He concluded by thanking the schools under his patronage for their work handing on the faith and their welcome particularly to him at Confirmation; he also thanked the three other schools (not under his patronage) for the welcome they give to a visit from one of the priests on the parish team. In highlighting this inclusivity in the educational landscape of Naas, he suggested that such a welcoming relationship is very much due to the work of the current parish team who carry on the spirit of the teams who served Naas so well in the past.
He ended with a prayer to St. Brigid:
“You were a woman of peace.
You brought harmony where there was conflict
You brought light to the darkness.
You brought hope to the downcast.
May the mantle of your peace cover those who are troubled and anxious,
And may peace be firmly rooted in our hearts and in our world.
Inspire us to act justly and to reverence all God has made.
Brigid you were a voice for the wounded and the weary.
Strengthen what is weak within us.
Calm us into a quietness that heals and listens
May we grow each day into greater wholeness in mind, body and spirit. Amen.”
Selection of photographs available here