On the 25th of August, as part of a CEIST school initiative, twelve 5th year students, accompanied by their Teachers, Mr. Jason Cotter and Mrs. Tina Johnston, had the privilege of traveling to Dublin to volunteer at the Papal Mass in Phoenix Park. Prior to the weekend, there was much preparation during the school year where we attended meetings which gave us an insight to what our voluntary roles would involve, getting Garda vetted, taking our ID photographs and filling out forms so we were more than ready for our travels to begin!
We travelled by private coach, arranged by Gerry Barrett Bus Hire on the Saturday morning before the Papal Mass and arrived at St. Joseph’s secondary school in Lucan, which was where we would be staying for the night. After a warm welcome by all of the staff and students at a lovely group assembly, we were then given a full tour of their school campus. The school catered for our every need, with a shop full of snacks, teas, and coffees available at the entrance and a room full of board games. We were in our element! After getting settled in, one of the students from the school informed us of the itinerary for the day. Firstly, we were led to a beautiful church very close by to the school. One of the local priests spoke to the volunteers and showed his immense gratitude to everyone for taking time out to help at the weekends' event. Shortly after the prayer service, we made our way to Phoenix Park for our final training session. We were very fortunate to be a select few who got the opportunity to see the venue being set up. The place looked phenomenal! There were fairy lights surrounding the walkways and the choirs singing beautifully as they practiced for the big day ahead. The atmosphere was already surreal. We just could not wait for the following day to commence. After our training sessions, we all returned to St. Joseph’s secondary school for the night. After our delicious dinner in the school canteen, we had the choice of playing ping pong, board games or taking part in the very popular table quiz! Everybody was in such great form and we really enjoyed our night. Lights went out at 11pm and it seemed no length until we were awoken by alarm bells ringing at 4:30am, bright and bushy tailed as you can imagine! Our coach driver met us outside the school and we travelled to the West County Hotel, and from there, despite the torrential rain, we made our way to Phoenix Park. It was about 6am when we arrived, and the rain was pouring down so we quickly made our way to the Chapel which had been allocated to our group. Our group rested in here for an hour or so until a group of about 15 people from County Wexford came to join us. Many new friends were made with our fellow volunteers. With the morning passing very quickly, we began to set up the Chapel for the Papal Mass. We arranged the tables and got the place set up for the Eucharist. Following this, a priest from Sligo said Mass and consecrated the Eucharist. After Mass, we went outside to have a wander around the grounds. Pilgrims began to gather at about 9am, they are all in such good spirits in anticipation of the Papal Mass. Our day was spent assisting the many Pilgrims with their queries and we had the pleasure of meeting so many lovely people, many of whom had travelled very far to attend the Mass. There were many trucks at the back of the park serving refreshments to keep everyone satisfied. Even though the morning was miserable, everyone who arrived at Phoenix Park appeared to be so happy and excited for the day that the weather did not really matter. The atmosphere was absolutely brilliant. Throughout the morning, prior to the arrival of the Pope, entertainers including Daniel O' Donnel, Derek Ryan and Eimear Quinn and many dance groups kept the crowds entertained. At approximately 2.30pm, The Pope arrived and was escorted around the park in the ‘Pope Mobile’. The joy and happiness that could be heard and seen was so heartwarming and made our voluntary work very much worthwhile.
During the Papal Mass our role involved holding large umbrellas next to the many Priests and Eucharistic Ministers during the distribution of Communion. As expected, the Papal Mass was so beautiful and we were so proud and privileged to be attending such a special event in the midst of His Holiness Pope Francis.
The people, the music, the atmosphere and of course most importantly the Papal Mass itself made our weekend of volunteering very special. It was such a great honour to be involved in the Mass. The more we give, the happier we feel. Volunteering increases self-confidence. By volunteering, you are doing good for others and the community, which provides a natural sense of accomplishment. Your role as a volunteer can also give you a sense of pride and identity. For this reason, I believe that if any of us got the chance to volunteer again, we would seize the opportunity in a heartbeat. As a group, we enjoyed it immensely and will hold the memories close to our hearts for the rest of our lives!
By Emma Meehan
(Leaving Certificate Student)
This article has since featured on a beautiful montage of the WMOF 2018 by our Trustees CEIST. To view this montage, click here.
Congratulations to our TY students who have produced a beautiful video documentary about the impact Nano Nagle's Presentation Sisters have had on the people of Athenry.
To view the video, click play below!
You can now download a copy of your Leaving Certificate Graduation picture which was taken on the night by Brad Anderson of Photo One Studio.
Printed copies can be ordered from Photo One Studio - 087 986 8466.
An article by Sr. Carmel Raftery, Tercentenary Project Team
A commemorative ceremony to mark the coming of the first Presentation Sisters to the town of Athenry was carefully planned for the 11thMay in Abbey Row where the Sisters operated their original school. This event was to be held outdoors on the actual school site but torrential rain put paid to that.
However, due to the skill and ingenuity of Jason Cotter and Gerry Ahern, Plan B was quickly activated and from the alternative of the convent parlour we were able to continue electronically. Though we had barely standing room, because of all the equipment and the many guests the ceremony proceeded in a calm and orderly way.
The various speakers who addressed us were all loud in praise of the four valiant Sisters who came from Tuam to Athenry in 1908 and proceeded by carriage to Abbey Row, where after whitewashing the walls of the original building, began their mission of education.
Special attention was given to the fact that the Parish Priest of the time, Canon Canton actually vacated his own house and handed it to the Sisters while he and his sister moved to rented accommodation in the town. He later was to build them a new school before building his own house.
Education evolved from then on, through Secondary Top to full Secondary, growing and expanding all the while right up to our own day.
Preparation is now under way to meet the demands of the 21st century, as students and teachers of Presentation College look forward to entering a sparkling, new and modern college to continue to keep the flame of Nano Nagle’s famed lantern burning brightly.
Congratulations to all of our TY students who graduated today. To listen to their Graduation mass, click on the link below.
Click on the link below to view a pictorial record of our Achievements Day celebrations. Well done to all involved.
A full report on Achievements Day will issue soon.
Click on the PDT below to read a report about this year's Active Schools Week.
Presentation College Athenry's Student Council have held multiple events to increase student participation in the democratic process.
The Council's 'Register to Vote' day was attended by a local member of An Garda Síochanna who was able to verify the student's forms onsite, simplifying a usually lengthy process. Just under 180 students were added to the register of electors on the day. Many of these students were able to pre-register at the age of 17 allowing them the opportunity to vote as soon as they turn 18
This was then followed by a Politics Day where the Student Council hosted three talks on the topics of European Politics, Women in Politics and The Role of Local Government. MEP's Luke 'Ming' Flanagan, Marian Harkin, Anne Rabbitte TD and Cllrs Gabe Cronnelly and Peter Feeney were in attendance.
Below is a pictorial record of the events, thanks to 4th Year Student, Alex Markey.
As part of their studies in Geography, our First Year students are visiting Clare and are pictured enjoying the views at the Cliffs of Moher and with the Birds of Prey at Aliwee Caves earlier today.
Thanks to all those who have kindly donated money / food / supplies to our TY students & their Teachers who are sleeping outside St. Mary’s church tonight. All funds raised are going to Cope Galway who are working with those who find themselves homeless.
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