ST AIDAN’S High School in Derrylin is to celebrate its 50th anniversary with a special Mass and reception this weekend, marking half a century of the school being at the heart of the community.
The school has already been celebrating the half-century milestone since before Christmas, with its phenomenal musical ‘Annie’ attracting crowds from across the county. This weekend it will host a Mass of thanksgiving, marking all that has gone before, and looking forward to the decades and generations to come.
The Mass, which starts at 12 noon this Saturday, March 25th, will be concelebrated by Bishop of Kilmore Martin Hayes, along with parish priest Fr Gerry Alwill, past pupil Fr Niall Greene, and others. During the service, there will be many symbolic moments marking school life, and St Aidan’s role in the community.
For example, there will be a jigsaw of the Eucharist of five pieces, marking the school’s five decades and representing how the community had come together half a century ago to bring the school to Derrylin.
Past head pupils will be sharing their memories of their time at the school, while three former principals – Bryan Gallagher, Val Cassidy and Martin McBrien – will join current principal Pat McTeggart for readings.
The Prayers of the Faithful will be read by members of local football clubs and will remember past pupils and staff who have sadly passed away, representatives from various aspects of school life will present the gifts, while past pupils will also be involved in provided the music for the Mass.
At the end, a large candle will be lit by a former head pupil from 1972, which will be handed to one of the school’s youngest Year 8 pupils, symbolising the passing on of faith and the beginning of the school’s next chapter.
That next chapter will also be marked by Bishop Hayes at the reception in St Aidan’s following the Mass, when he officially opens a new wing of the school – consisting of a new art suite and new maths faculties – and the unveiling of a plaque.
There will be refreshments at the school reception – provided by past pupil John Roche from Tully Mill – and those in attendance will be treated to five rooms, one for each decade, filled with nostalgic displays of memorabilia and photographs.
Principal Mr McTeggart said all of the celebrations, from the Mass to the reception, marked the school’s place at the heart of the local community, noting it was unique in its place as part of the Diocese of Kilmore.
Recalling how it was the community itself who had led to the school being built in Derrylin, with locals fundraising in the ‘60s, he said the school was proud to be more than just a building, but an active and dynamic hub that is used by many local organisations and groups, as well as a school that had very strong links with local industry.
“It’s not just an educational establishment, it’s a community hub,” he said, quoting the school’s motto of ‘through working together we achieve, develop and grow.’
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