Homily at 60th Anniversary Mass  St. Dominic’s College Ballyfermot

As a past pupil, current teacher in St Dominic’s and fellow Dominican Associate I have had the unique opportunity to see the school from different points of view. I was once like the children in Gospel. I started in St Dominic’s in 2001. At the age of 12 I did not realise that I was entering more than a building with furniture. I was entering a community, a community that has established itself over the past 800 years. It’s a community that like Jesus in the Gospels asked the children of Ballyfermot  to come forward 60 years ago and  trust the Dominican Sisters with the their education.

Now I am in the position to ask children to come to St Dominic’s and entrust us with the special care that Jesus said they should have. Thinking about the 60 years of St Dominic’s College Ballyfermot I have to admire the vision and courage of those who founded the school in 1956.

Ireland and Ballyfermot back in 1956 were not the same as today. Ballyfermot was a suburb with fields and meadows all around. The Dominican Sisters came and asked the people of Ballyfermot if they could educate their young girls. This may not seem a big deal now but educating women was not the priority back in the 1950s especially in large families that had no history of education. Education had to be paid for and people believed that women did not need an education. These were the realities that faced the sisters but they were willing to embrace this challenge because they knew the truth, the VERITAS, that education is singly one of the most important gifts you can give to anyone. They had the vision that young women would be educated and would rightly take their position in society as equals. It’s because of the Dominican sisters that we have produced lawyers, nurses, teachers, entrepreneurs, accountants, and many more highly successful proud women.

Over the years many staff have come and gone. Some have stayed a year and some have stayed over 40 years but each one has embraced what it means to give the gift of a Dominican Education.  The mission statement of the school states,
            “We in St. Dominic’s are committed to providing a Christian education inspired by the       Dominican motto “truth” which fosters the development of the whole person”.

This is what sets our school apart from others.  Our school develops the whole person. The whole person is what makes everyone of us here, who we are. It is not just the side of us that can read and write and sit an exam but the side of us, that stands up and speaks out when we see injustice, that shows love to a neighbour, that values the friends and family we have, that wants to excel in the talents that are bursting out of each one of us. That is the whole person. Thousands of pupils have passed through the school over the years and each staff member that works in the school knows, like Jesus in the Gospel, that the young ladies that pass through the school are what is important.

The vision showed by the Dominican Sisters 60 years ago has been a success. We are here today and the doors of the school are still open. Each day a small difference is being made to lives of each student. Each day a lesson is learned and a smile is created. This is not to say that we don’t make mistakes. The disciples made a mistake in the Gospel. Each and every one of us in our school community has made mistakes as staff and students. Once we realise we made a mistake it’s not dwelling on it that matters. It’s about not making the same mistake again. 60 years ago I bet there were lots of mistakes that were made but the Sisters did not give up, they pushed on everyday striving to bring  Christian values to every one of the girls that came into the school and we today 60 years on follow in their footsteps in trying to do the same.

It is important to remember today the sad times. We as a school community over the years have had difficult times in our own personal lives and in our school lives. We have lost members of our family we loved dearly and friends that made our world a little better but it’s through community that our wounds slowly heal. It’s the kind word, the subtle smile, the kind gesture that helps us get through those dark days and St Dominic’s is a community that strives to brighten those dark days.

As we reflect on the 60 years that have gone before us, who knows what the future will hold. As a school we will continue to speak Gods message, to teach and encourage, to share and show kindness.  We will continue to put the young women of Ballyfermot and the surrounding community at the centre of prayers and actions like Jesus wanted us to do. We will continue to educate like the sisters did 60 years ago. We will continue to foster the whole person. We will continue to be the best school we can possible be. Why you may ask? It is simply because we are St Dominic’s Ballyfermot.

Preacher:  Cheryl Keeler,

Career Guidance and Religion Teacher at the School