Friday 27th May 2016
Holy Rosary College is a Catholic, co-educational rural school in the town of Mountbellew, 50km from Galway city with a student population of 570. It was founded in 1965 by the Sisters of the Christian Retreat, and has just celebrated its 50th anniversary. We are delighted with our new and refurbished school which was officially opened in March.
In a society that is becoming increasingly spiritually barren, our school seeks to create meaningful Christian community among its staff and students.
Since their arrival in Mountbellew, the Sisters of the Christian Retreat have shared the Spirit of the Congregation, not only in the school itself, but also in the wider community and beyond. This work continues on a daily basis within the school and touches the lives of all of our students and teachers.
Never before has the mission of the Congregation – to awaken an alien world to God through reflection, prayer and retreat – been more relevant.
Starting with Sister Assumpta’s ‘Good thought for the week’ on a Monday morning, in which she shares her spirit of prayer and inspires students and staff to live out Gospel values in their lives, and continuing throughout the week with her meetings with individual first year students, and vulnerable students of all ages for a comforting chat, our school is spiritually nourished by the presence of the sisters of the Christian Retreat day after day.
We are aware that the vision, mission and ethos of a school mean very little if they are not constantly, tangibly present to all within the walls of that building as staff and students go about their educational business. In order to really live out our Catholic ethos, we ensure that students’ faith is nourished in practical ways throughout the year.
We organise yearly retreats for all students in order that they might gain the opportunity for reflection on the presence of God in their lives.
We maintain a Sacred Space in the main Assembly Area where students are encouraged to pause and pray or even bless themselves with the holy water.
Religion classes are always prioritised within the school timetable, in order to present opportunities for meaningful theological learning to occur, and to provide students with a real sense of ‘connectedness’ to a rich religious tradition.
The ‘rootlessness’ that is experienced by many young people today can be remedied by offering the experience of being part of the Christian family that was founded on selfless love and sacrifice.
It is through hearing the old stories of their faith and becoming aware that they belong to a wider faith community outside of the school that young people are helped to feel that they are not alone; that they are part of something bigger and more comforting than their peers alone can offer.
We have always organised regular opportunities for spiritual nourishment through participation in the Sacraments. Thomas Groome emphasised the need for Catholic schools to provide times of ‘prayer, communal worship and intensified spiritual experiences.’
For this reason, the school organises Masses at the beginning and end of the school year, and prayer services at Christmas. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is provided before Christmas and Easter in the local Church, with priests from three surrounding dioceses, and all students attend.
We have Mass and a meal on the Feast of the Holy Rosary in October at which all staff, retired staff and board of management members join with the sisters in celebrating their feast day.
A very robust pastoral care system operates in the school. Vulnerable students and their parents are supported and cared for while the general cohort of students experience a caring environment from the sisters, staff and board of management. Our school counsellor is a major support for all students and in particular for those experiencing difficulties.
We value highly the involvement of the local community in the life of this school and support families during bereavement and through difficult times.
In these individualistic times, Catholic schools must strive to remain places of spiritual nourishment and transformation in the face of increasing levels of consumerist pressure and restrictive educational legislation.
Our school strives to continue the mission of the Sisters of the Christian Retreat in Holy Rosary College, who shared their charism with the people whose lives they touched.
We work to remain an institution that is not only academic, but spiritually transformative.
Pictured above are Martin Tierney (Deputy Principal), Sr Assumpta (Chaplain) and Maureen Walsh (Principal).