75th Jubilee of Laurel Hill Coláiste FCJ, 21st December 2010
The shortest day – 21st December 2010 – was laced with sparkling frost and an air of celebration in Shannon side as we gathered in St. Joseph’s Church, Limerick to mark the 75th Jubilee of Laurel Hill Coláiste FCJ. FCJ sisters from Laurel Hill and elsewhere joined with staff and students, two former Principals, the current Principal, Aedin Ní Bhriain (herself a past pupil of the Coláiste), representatives of the Board of Management, Parents Councils, parents, past and present pupils, ancillary staff, neighbours and friends, to mark this great milestone in the life of the school.
The pioneer and founder of this all Irish all girls school, An tSúir Béinín FCJ (Sr. Benigna O’Donoghue) was remembered with joy and gratitude as two present pupils carried her portrait on high during the entry procession of our celebration Mass and placed it on a stand by the alter. No doubt she was gleaming silently from her stand in heaven as she delighted in the legacy she bequeathed to the education of so many young girls in Limerick and beyond over the 75 years of the school’s vibrant cultural and educational tradition.
The choir of students, numbering around 100 lifted our spirits with their exquisite liturgical singing – providing a rich blend of Irish, English and Christmas hymns, enabled by their musical director Orla Colgan.
An tSúir Eibhlin Ní Fhoghlú (Sr.Eileen Foley), herself a past teacher of Irish, Latin and RE in the school, gave the homily in Irish at the Mass. She recalled the ‘Ceiliúradh Órga’ (the Golden Jubilee) in 1985, which she said seemed like only 10 years ago! She recalled the exploits achieved, the victories won, the friends made, the academic, sport and cultural excellence – but more importantly the name, the spirit and the ethos of the school, which bears the name of Jesus as its distinctive feature. She encouraged the students to think on the challenge and the implication of this name – Faithful Companions of Jesus – in their own lives.
Referring to the Gospel of the Mass- the Visitation- Sr. Eileen invited all to reflect on two faithful women, Mary and Elizabeth, two women who were heralds of the coming of Jesus into our world. The third faithful woman presented in the homily was Marie Madeleine, foundress of the FCJ Society who had received four spiritual gifts - Poverty, Obedience, Humility and Gentleness from God himself. The similarities between these three faithful women were indeed striking.
Sr. Eileen invited the whole school community to acknowledge that they were standing on the shoulders of the pioneers who had gone before them, who had ignited the flame that nurtured the inspiration and the ethos of the school down through the years and upon whose shoulders lay the responsibility and privilege now in our day of staying faithful, of fanning the flame, and of preserving the ethos for generations to come.
At the closure of the Mass Sr. Maria Dunne FCJ, Provincial of the Irish Province expressed her gratitude, on behalf of all the FCJ sisters, to the many different school bodies present – principals, staff, students, parents, Board of Management, Parents’ Council for their faithful and generous service to the school over the years.
There were a number of priests present, parish clergy and friends, who concelebrated. The chief celebrant was Fr. Micheál Liston, brother of Sr. Bríd Liston FCJ.
A bookmark with the Irish translation of the FCJ ethos was presented to each member of the school community by Sr. Maria. All adjourned to the Clarion Hotel by the banks of the Shannon for refreshments, and to remember and celebrate together.
Gura fada buan an Coláiste agus a mhuintir uile!