Reflecting on Catholic School’s Week 2021 in today’s Irish News, Bernadette Fitzgerald, secondary school principal of Saint Joseph’s in Lucan, Co Dublin, said “The sudden shift to remote teaching and learning – and the organisation of education around kitchen tables and digital devices – occurred overnight. It forced us to recreate, in an online space, the daily life of our secondary school community here in Saint Joseph’s College, Lucan, in County Dublin. This year has been a Catholic Schools Week like no other.”

Saint Joseph’s is a vibrant school community of faith and learning for girls, founded by the Presentation Sisters, and is now under the trusteeship of CEIST. The latest lockdown restrictions have caused schools to come up with creative solutions and Saint Joseph’s has met the challenge head on. Bernadette said, “Our response to this latest closure has revealed that we are learning to bounce back. Zolli describes ‘Resilience’ as ‘the capacity of a system, enterprise or person to maintain its core purpose or integrity in the face of dramatically changed circumstances.’ We are maintaining mission integrity through collective resilience. From the onset of the pandemic our students, staff and parents have illuminated how we are a compassionate community where everyone looks out for each other. Students are also aware of the circumstances of those in the local community and are responsive to their needs. Before Christmas, our students’ thoughtful letters and wellbeing cards to residents in a nearby nursing home received heart-warming responses which lifted all of our spirits.”

According to Bernadette, “The spiritual needs of our students have been met through liturgical experiences, designed as small group rituals or online services for the whole school. In November the Religion teachers collaborated with students in finding meaningful and imaginative ways to give expression to their thoughts, memories and prayers for loved ones who have passed away. Our annual Carol Service and Presentation Day Mass were recreated as remote gatherings of the whole school, with music, prayer and reflection. For the latter we were joined by Father Tom Kennedy from Saint Mary’s Parish, thus enabling us to remain connected to the Parish.”

In conclusion, the Saint Joseph’s principal said, “Who knows what the coming months will bring? A prolonged school closure is a dismal time indeed, but we have a choice as to how to go forward. So much depends on how we look at things. We will keep smiling through this time. There is so much wisdom to be gained from how others have remained resilient in the face of adversity – the words of Anne Frank spring to mind, “I don’t think of all the misery but of all the beauty that still remains” – within our school community there is much of beauty to be grateful for, such as friendship; empathy; spirituality; love; kindness; solidarity; care; and of course, hope for September.”

Ends