S.M.I.L.E. – Spot Magic in Life Everyday
How beautiful it would be if each of you, every evening, could say: “Today at school, at home, at work, guided by God, I showed a sign of love towards one of my friends, my parents, and an older person!”
Pope Francis; April 2013
I’m in a very privileged position as principal of a very large, busy and energetic school, witnessing signs of love, care and kindness every day in the corridors and the playground, during lessons and, indeed, in our bustling and busy staffroom. Even more so over the past two years – with enforced Covid lockdowns – witnessing how well our community of parents, teachers and boys coped with remote teaching and learning.
However, one very important lesson which all in our school have learned over those past two years of the pandemic is the crucial role of coming together as a community or class, and the importance of face-to-face conversations, along with the sharing of knowledge and showing kindness and care at all times.
2022 has been particularly busy with preparing Second / Third / Fourth and Sixth Forms to receive the Sacraments of Reconciliation, First Communion and Confirmation. This required a tremendous amount of work from class teachers and school chaplain Ms Victoria Byrne. Thanks also are due to Fr. Paddy Moran – a huge support and guiding light throughout our online masses and sacramental preparation who recruited additional Spiritans to help with Reconciliation services – to Fr. Peter O’Connor of St. John the Baptist Church in Blackrock for his kindness, welcome, generosity and warmth and, not least, to Fr Cormac O’Brolchain.
Attending all these services was a very uplifting experience. I particularly recall one where I was invited to a very special Confirmation service in Blackrock Chapel. Before it began, Flor Madden – a school chaplain –stood up and welcomed all the boys, teachers and families who had travelled to attend the special Mass that day. One important message that he proclaimed to the congregation will stay with me:
‘As any Spiritan school, church or indeed organisation we are always guided by the Holy Spirit and in particular our seven core values along with the Gifts and Fruits of the Holy Spirit that these fine young men will receive today… All these gifts and fruits that you will receive today are formed out of love….’
Having spent over 18 years in a Spiritan school, 6 as principal, and having witnessed the work of Spiritans, Spiritan Education Trust, staff, chaplains, teachers, parents and pupils, I truly agree with the above sentiments.
We recognise the importance of involving all members of our school community to ensure that Spiritan mission is the most important value imparted to the boys in our care. It is articulated in firstly to empower others – Believe; as each boy has his own strengths, talents and interests we ensure that these are recognised, nurtured and developed. Secondly, to ensure that our boys, staff and parents Belong to our school we develop strong links with our parents through the Willow Parents’ Association, Form Programme Evenings and our monthly record books which strengthens our link with parents and the wider community. This leads on to our last point – Become – through our work and relationship with parents, SET, local parishes and charities we can and will empower our young people, in the words of Pope Francis ‘the future of our Church’ to make the difference and help the most vulnerable in our World – the real ethos of every Spiritan organisation.
Finally, I entitled this piece ‘S.M.I.L.E. – Spot Magic in Life Everyday’because this was – and will continue to be – the theme of our school’s annual Arts’ Week. Fides et Robur!