26 Mar SET Easter Newsletter
On this Easter morning, let us look again at the lives we have been so generously given and let us let fall away the useless baggage that we carry — old pains, old habits, old ways of seeing and feeling — and let us have the courage to begin again. Life is very short, and we are no sooner here than it is time to depart again, and we should use to the full the time that we still have.
We don’t realize all the good we can do. A kind, encouraging word or helping hand can bring many a person through dark valleys in their lives. We weren’t put here to make money or to acquire status or reputation. We were sent here to search for the light of Easter in our hearts, and when we find it we are meant to give it away generously. The dawn that is rising this Easter morning is a gift to our hearts and we are meant to celebrate it and to carry away from this holy, ancient place the gifts of healing and light and the courage of a new beginning. John O’Donohue
As we approach Easter, our thoughts in schools turn to preparation for the sacraments of Communion and Confirmation, to “mocks” and orals and, just over the horizon, to the twin peaks of Junior and Leaving Certificate examinations. There is never a quiet time in schools, but Spring brings a new urgency as we face the challenge of completing programmes of work, a challenge which this year has been intensified by the arrival of uninvited guests, Ophelia and Emma.
But our schools are nothing if not resilient and, despite the interruptions caused by the above visitors, our teachers continue to adapt to the situation and keep a firm focus on our students’ needs. I.T. – through the use of Moodle, for example – has been particularly effective in ensuring that teachers did not fall behind in their delivery of the curriculum and such innovation is appreciated by both students and parents.
All our schools are facing new regulatory requirements in so many areas: Child Safeguarding, Data Protection, Charity Regulation, Posts of Responsibility, developments at Junior Cycle. Despite the demands put on our school communities to respond to these developments, it is a tribute to all our staff that the needs of our students are always the priority and all decisions are made with the intention to enhance the student experience. Students remain at the centre of our work.
While change in the world of education continues apace and often seems to be beyond our control, it is very heartening to know that, within the Spiritan community generally, there is a recognition that from time to time we should pause to reflect upon, and re-evaluate the purpose and process of our education mission which ‘has been integral to the Spiritan mission of evangelisation since the foundation of the Congregation’ (Spiritan Guide for Education, 2016). To that end, SET was represented at a recent education conference hosted by the Catholic Education Service Committee, the general purpose of which was to engage with key stakeholders on the broader national context and challenges for Catholic Education in Ireland at this time and into the future.
Easter is the celebration of Christ’s resurrection from the dead. Easter Sunday marks the end of Holy Week, the end of Lent, the last day of the Easter Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday), and is the beginning of the Easter season of the liturgical year. In our Spiritan schools, we place great value on our students’ personal faith development and we are emboldened and encouraged by the commitment of our teachers, parents and wider communities to foster that faith. With the two-week break upcoming, it is a time when our students are separated temporarily from the school as ‘the family of families’ and are within the bosom of their own individual families. We pray that, while the break is welcomed by all for many reasons, there will be time for all of us to think a little on our own faith, encouraged by the Easter story.