15 November 2018

It’s very fitting that this new school has chosen the name Scoil Chlann Naofa in the year when we celebrated the World Meeting of Families. The school is a family of families, and the Holy Family of Nazareth, Jesus, Mary and Joseph, is a great model for a Catholic School. Jesus revealed God to us by being born and growing up in a human family. He learned to walk and talk from loving parents. He grew in wisdom and grace under their care and guidance. Above all, he learned to love by experiencing the love of Mary and Joseph.

Love is at the heart of every good family and it is also at the heart of every good school. As we invoke God’s blessing on Scoil Chlann Naofa today, we pray that it will, in the words of St Paul, be planted and built on love. Love is a funny word. It can mean many different things: a nice feeling you get when a certain person is near. We talk about falling in love, as if it was a pit or a puddle. The first reading tells us something very important about love. It says, Love comes from God. Real love is not our love of God, but his love of us. We are able to love, because God has loved us. And, like Jesus, the first place we experienced God’s love was through the love of our parents and families.

We have a wonderful example of Jesus showing God’s love in the Gospel. People were bringing children to Jesus to let him touch them, but the disciples wanted to stop them. They thought Jesus was too busy, too important to be bothered with children. But Jesus was indignant. He wanted the children to come, and he showed his love for them: He put his arms around them, laid his hands on them and gave them his blessing.

That reminds us all, that you, the pupils, as the most important people here today. This is your day. It’s your school. It’s your celebration. I hope you enjoy yourselves today and every day that you are here. I know you will learn many lessons in many different subjects during your time here. You will learn new skills and develop your abilities. The most important lesson you will learn is the lesson of love. Love in the sense of being patient and kind, gentle and generous and forgiving. Love is the most important ingredient of education. If we don’t learn to love we might be geniuses at mathematics and wizards with computers but we run the risk of being failures in our personal lives.

The secret of a happy life is to be able to form good, healthy, mature relationships. Love is the key to that. I believe it is also the secret of happy families, a happy school and of a civilized society. Pope Francis said, during his recent visit for the World Meeting of Families: “The world needs a revolution of love. Let that revolution begin with you and your families.” That revolution of love is already happening here in Scoil Chlann Naofa. It has a great board of management, a dedicated staff, an active parents’ association and an exceptional body of pupils. I pray that the wonderful work being done here will continue and flourish long into the future.

I congratulate everyone involved in this project. It was not an easy one. It involved amalgamating two schools and I compliment the boards of management, the principals, staffs and parents on achieving that merger in a very short timeframe and very smooth transition. It involved refurbishing and remodelling an old school – much harder than building a new one. I congratulate the new board under the able chairmanship of Raymond McHugh and the Principal Mr Noel McKeon. I thank them and all board members, past and present, and the staff for the great work you have done and the inconvenience you endured over years to bring this day about. I thank the DES for their assistance and financial support. And we are all indebted to the Mercy Sisters who handed over this property to the DES some years ago free gratis. I thank Fr Sean Mawn, the parish priest, for helping to facilitate the project from start to finish.

Guím rath Dé ar an scoil nua, ar na daltaí, a dtuismitheoirí, ar fhoireann na scoile, ar an bhord bhanistíochta agus ar gach éinne a bhí páirt acu san obair iontach seo. Go n-éirigh go geal libh sna blianta atá rómhainn amach.