Céad Bliain ag fás. Congratulations on this day when we celebrate memories and achievements, remember our history and set the compass for the future.
There’s an African proverb that goes: “It takes a village to raise a child”. In other words it takes many people to educate and form a young person: family, neighbours, but of course especially the school! A school plays a really important role in the community. How much we all owe to our national schools.
At school we acquire a lot of knowledge about things, about people, about how to read and write, about how to do sums… All that is important. But Pope Francis put it well when he said that in school we learn three languages that a mature person should know how to express: the language of the mind, the language of the heart and the language of the hands. Harmoniously though, that is, to think what you feel and what you do; to feel deeply what you think and what you do; and to do well what you think and what you feel. Three languages, together in harmony!
Between bringing the sod of turf to school to today’s laptops, there has been a lot of learning of these three languages. We’ve much to be thankful for. As the first reading puts it, they are a race whom the Lord has blessed. Of course, I’m sure there have been difficult moments and times for healing and that too can be part of today’s ceremony.
But we now also look forward. It’s important to re-commit ourseles to all that is best for the children who come to this school. The child Jesus shows us the way. He was found in the Temple, sitting among the doctors, listening to them and asking them questions.
It’s important to listen. That’s why God gave us two ears and only one mouth! Listen to what others are saying and really try to understand them. And that means also understanding what’s going on around youin society and the world. But also ask questions. It’s important to ask questions. Sometimes it’s the questions that bring out the best in those you are talking to. Sometimes the holy Spirit puts a question in our hearts because he wants to give us the answer through the person we are talking to or listening to. Maybe your question will help someone else.
And we can entrust the school to Mary. Mary was the person closest to Jesus. She knew what was in his heart. She understood his message. She journeyed with him right throughout his life. So she is the best palced to guide this school as it moves forward. Because what Mary wants to see is a school that has Jesus the Teacher present among all who are here – teachers and pupils. And for Jesus to be among us, we can hear Mary say “do whatever he tells you” and we know that the biggest thing Jesus told us was “love one another as I have loved you”. In other words, not just a bit of love or compassion. That’s not enough. It has to be a love that goes beyond your own feelings and desires and knows how to make go out of our way to love those we meet here in the school, especially those who you might think far from you or different from you or not who you’d like to be with. Mary says: do what Jesus tells you. That’ll make this school be a place of true learning with the three languages fully integrated, forming boys and girls who will be responsible men and women of the future.