St. James’ School Opening Mass

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Homily Notes of

Most reverend Diarmuid Martin

Archbishop of Dublin


Basin Lane, Dublin, 1st April 2014


We are here at the heartland of Catholic education in Dublin.   The Irish Christian Brothers founded their first school here in 1820 – one of their earliest foundations in Dublin – and after a short interlude definitively established their James’ Street schools in 1868.  The Religious Sisters of Charity have been active here in Basin Lane School since 1874.  Their former convent is today the Haven Adult Education Centre.  These have been great schools which have offered educational opportunity to young people in this area of Dublin in difficult times and provided schools which have produced generations of young men and women who have availed of and benefitted from an educational opportunity which they might never have otherwise have encountered.


The opportunities offered were focussed above all on this local community and addressed the particular educational needs of the community, but as with any good school they soon attracted pupils from a wider environment.


I am very pleased to be with you this morning for another important landmark in the history of Catholic education in this area, though the amalgamation of two schools.  Our ceremony embraces change and also expresses our gratitude for the work and the commitment which goes back for well over a century.


What is happening here this morning is the expression not of a retreat from the tradition of Catholic education, but of the beginnings of a new presence.  We come to bless the fruit of this amalgamation which witness both the rich heritage of the past, but also recognition of a changed Ireland.  Catholic education still has its vital place in our educational system, as something which brings its unique value system, a value system which is recognized also by families of a variety of religious traditions in this community who opt to send their children to a Catholic school.


At the same time we welcome the fact that in this area there will be other schools which embrace a different ethos and will contribute, in their way, to the rightful pluralism of educational provision in today’s Dublin.  In that spirit we wish success to the Educate Together School which has been established in this wider area.

Pluralism is something welcome. The fruits of such pluralism will have to be measured, however, not just in the provision of schools, but in an outcome in which every school, independent of its patronage, becomes a places of welcome for the deprived, the marginalized and those with educational challenges.  Pluralism should not produce negative rivalry or antagonism or give rise to elitism or social division.  We need to build up positive relationships within the entire educational community in the area in such a way that our children learn to respect each other and to understand what it means to live one’s values with conviction within a respectful pluralist framework.


I thank the community of this area of Dublin for the manner in which they have taken part in a process which has enabled the traditional and he new to work side by side in developing a common approach to modernity, a modernity of mutual and respectful understanding.


Boys and girls you have got a great school and I hope that you will be ever more proud of this school.  It offers you great opportunities to become the young men and women you want to be.  I congratulate the teachers and the entire school staff on their commitment to ensuring that the great qualities of the traditions of two schools can be kept alive and vibrant for the years to come. 


Education is not just about educational excellence in a technical sense.  If I were to ask anyone here today what the single most significant thing that affected their education was, no one would answer that it was the curriculum or use the term ethos which they might not even understand.  Their answer would most likely not be about a thing but rather a name:  Miss or Mr, Sister or Brother – a teacher who embodied in their own personal lives and commitment what fostering a passion for learning and self-realisation, personal integrity and generosity should mean to each pupil.


Catholic ethos is about what we heard of in our Gospel reading.  It is about love, about caring for each other, about rejoicing when we can pass on to young boys and girls something of the richness of a faith based on the call to love and to rejoice when those we are called to teach and inspire even go beyond us ourselves


That is a real part of the tradition of these two schools, which today amalgamate to continue to transmit the message of Jesus Christ for whom children were the signs of ihs own kingdom.  God bless this school in its new form and God bless all those involved in the work of education it his community.