ST Paul’s Church in Lurgan was the venue for the 50th anniversary Mass of St Paul’s Junior High School.
As the school began its celebration of 50 years of education the congregation of pupils and staff also welcomed back former members of staff and pupils who had attended there over the years.
The celebrant was the Bishop of Dromore, John McAreavey with co-celebrants, Monsignor Aidan Hamill, Parish Priest of St Peter’s and Fr Conor McConville of St Paul’s Parish.
They were joined by local curates, Fr Mario Jachyn amd Fr Jusef Wozniak as well as Fr Lawrence McElhill, Parish Priest of Aghagallon and Fr Desmond Mooney of St Anthony’s, both former
Governors of St Paul’s JHS, while the M.C. was School Chaplain, Fr Brian Brown of St Patrick’s, Magheralin.
The congregation was welcomed to the Mass by Head Boy, Pearse McKay who thanked all for coming and reminded them that the theme of the Mass was summed up in the Hymn of Welcome ‘Cead Mile Failte’
The mass itself was a most uplifting experience for all and was greatly enhanced by the school choir under the guidance of organist and Head of Music, Mrs Joan McCluskey, assisted by Mrs Brenda Bell and Mrs Sinead White.
The ceremony of processing of the school gifts was a celebration of the life of the school as former and current staff, along with the pupils, brought items which defined the history of the school.
The School Crest was brought by former principal, Mr Gerard McCrory, and handed over to his grandson, Conor McCabrey 9C3. Mr Brendan McStravick, third principal of St Paul’s carried the original school registers along with those of the present pupils, and presented them to his grandson, Joseph Crilly 10C3 while a Record of Achievement was carried by Mr Colm McConville and given to grandsons, Diarmuid, 8c2 and Niall Loney 9C1
The first principal of St Paul’s, Mr Tom Keville, was represented by his daughter, Miss Ann Keville, who brought the School Mission Statement before presenting it to Niall Campbell 8M1.
School vice principal, Dr Fionnuala Moore, carried the Church Calendar along
In his homily, Bishop John McAreavey, praised St Paul’s school for its service to the people of Lurgan and surrounding districts for the past 50 years. He thanked the teachers for their diligence and their many sacrifices in the name of education and how it had benefitted their pupils over the years.
He pointed out that there had been many changes in education over the years and that the staff of St Paul’s had always risen to the challenge and that they would do so in the future.
The Prayers of the Faithful were read by current teachers, Miss Ciara Donnelly and David Tennyson, School Governor, Mr Eugene Barrett, past pupil and Classroom Assistant, Mr Patrick McKenna and former teacher, Mrs Marie Lavery, while pupils Christian O’Neill and Krystian Zdunek read theirs in Irish and Polish.
Accompanied by Mrs Marta-Oles Przewloka, pupils Krystian Zdunek, Martas Paulionus, Damian Tomaszewski, Piotr Fafinski, and Sam Pringle all carried cloths of their countries which were laid on the altar by Fr Brown, prior to the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
The gifts were carried to the altar by Dr Francis McCorry, former Vice Principal and his grandson, Ethan McCorry, while Mr Patrick McAnallen represented the SVDP and Eamonn Canavan, a year 9 pupil, carried a Christmas hamper to symbolise the caring nature of the pupils.
The Communion Reflection was then read by Mrs Theresa Brown, Head of PE, before Bishop McAreavey gave the final blessing.
Mrs Brown, who along with her fellow RE teacher, Miss Ciara Donnelly, meticulously laid the plans for the Mass and Mr Kieran Hanratty who produced the commemorative booklet, certainly made it a day to remember for all of those connected with St Paul’s over the years.
At the end of the ceremony, the congregation returned to the school for a buffet where former principal, Mr Brendan McStravick celebrated his birthday by cutting the cake celebrating 50 years of education in St Paul’s Junior High School.