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Jubilee Mass 27 - September 2013

From the start of the planning for the School’s Jubilee celebrations it had always been the intention that the school would celebrate the jubilee as a community during the year. The thanksgiving Mass, to be held exactly 50 years to the month that the school started, was intended to involve all students in the jubilee celebration and to this end every member of the school community came together on Friday 27th September at 9.15am.

It was fitting for our own school chaplain, Fr Jan, celebrated this Mass as Archbishop Bernard Longley had celebrated Mass during our Mission week and former student and Vicar General; Monsignor Tim Menezes celebrated the Thanksgiving Mass in July. We were also delighted that Fr. Bill Wilton, former teacher at our school was able to join us to concelebrate the Mass.


Before Mass started we symbolically passed on the light of faith in our school in a procession, this was read by Assistant Head, Gill O’Reilly. In the procession 3 experienced members of staff Alex Flood, Christine Lockyear and Fred Stephenson processed with candles symbolising the light of faith, accompanying them was head boy, Greg Stanley, carrying the statue of St Thomas Aquinas. 3 members of staff, Jude Devlin, Timothy James and Sarah Lattimer, who had attended St Thomas Aquinas school as students then processed and lit their candles from the experienced staff candles. They in turned passed on their light to 3 students from year 8, 9 and 10, John Hardy, Hannah Kenny and Charlotte Behan.


During the procession former staff, students, governors and chaplains that had served the school and have now passed away were also remembered, with the school's Book of Remembrance being brought forward by John Houston, PE teacher, and former student, and placed at the foot of the Altar along with a large crucifix, carried by teacher, and Head of Year 13, Liz James, and accompanied by a candle carried by student, Hershey Abrina. It was a moving start to a prayerful Mass.


Many other staff and students took part in the Mass. The introduction was read by Head Girl Catherine Laverty and year 13 student, Amanda DeValliere. Gemma Baker, year 12 student, read the first reading, while Nuala Hickey, longstanding staff member read the Responsorial Psalm. and Tara Carter, former student and now maths teacher and Haydn Cadogan, year 12 student, read the Bidding Prayers.


As at the July Mass our wonderful student choir led the singing in the Mass and they were superb, they worked hard to practice the pieces and the Mass setting The choir was again very ably led by Martina Moran, Head of RE and the piano was played by Miss Moran’s sister Alexandra Tun, who very kindly stepped in because Mrs Bentley was unable to play. Other musicians were Assistant Head, Richard Smith, on guitar and Head of Performing Arts, Mary Johnson on violin and students Haydn Cadogan, on violin, John Tibbits on guitar and Olivia Young, on flute.

 

During Communion the choir sang ‘Christ, our Lord forever’, written especially for the jubilee Celebrations by former student, Hugh Tibbits.
The Mass really was the most wonderful celebration full of joy and thanks for the many blessings bestowed on St Thomas Aquinas School over the past 50 years.

Following the Mass Mr Foley had the opportunity to talk about the school’s jubilee celebrations and showed the students photographs of founding headteacher, Paul Olsen and also John Bartlett who took over from Paul as headteacher in 1974 and served the school for 30 years until his retirement in 1993.

We were very privileged to have former teacher Pete Roberts, who is also author of Tommy's Volumes 1 and 2,at the celebratory Mass and Mr Foley talked about his own son’s experience of being taught history by Pete and went on to say that he judged Pete to be one of the most outstanding teachers he had worked with.

As always when we come together for any spiritual occasion the students’ behaviour was excellent. Feedback about the Mass from both staff and students was very complementary, saying it was a lovely reflection of the jubilee. Staff were particularly complimentary about the music, and everyone agreed it was a truly wonderful way to celebrate the jubilee with the whole school community.

 

Anne-Marie
Lay Chaplain