The Order of Christian Education was founded in Normandy, France on 21 November 1817. As a school, we celebrate this special event on or around 21 November and it is known as our Community Feast Day. This year we celebrated on Friday 18 November and the day took on a special significance following the recent news that Sisters Mannion, Shannon and Rennie will be leaving Farnborough next Easter.
The day followed the traditional format starting with a special Assembly at which the Sisters were presented with cards from each form. Later in the morning the whole School celebrated Mass during which we were privileged to witness the Sisters (seven in all) renew their vows with the words:
God our Father, in response to your call and confident in your fidelity, we renew our commitment to follow Jesus by the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience in the Congregation of the Sisters of Christian Education.
Father, consecrated us by your Spirit for the service of the Church and the glory of your name. May Mary, our Mother, intercede for us. Amen.
Later that day, Father Tony, Sister Elizabeth McCormack, RCE and Sister Rosemary O’Looney, RCE introduced a new tradition to Community Feast Day: a Blessing of the 52 graves of the Sisters who founded the School.
The Sisters, Father Tony, members of Senior Leadership Team led by Mrs Alexandra Neil, CAFOD Young Leaders, Social Justice Club with their head Ms Nicole Kirby, Mrs Helen Griffiths (Governor and Old Girl) and other School representatives took the special walk down to the graveyard in the grounds. Father Tony said prayers and blessed the graves. The group then laid a rose on each grave to signify they are not forgotten. The Sisters especially enjoyed this new touching tradition, one which will be added to future Community Feast Days.
That afternoon, the Sisters were entertained by girls in Year 11 giving a series of recitations using their own writings interspersed with solo music performances. The girls from Year 11 Set One English were each given a stimulus for creative, descriptive writing, as they are given in their English Language GCSE Paper One. In this case they were given either a photograph, a person or a part of the story of Abbé Louis Lafosse, the Founder of the Sisters' order. They imagined being one of the four Sisters or Abbé Lafosse himself, tracing the story from Lafosse’s hiding in the forest, his arrest and being sent to jail in Ȋle de Ré, and then being given the church to oversee and the education to develop in the community of Echauffour. The girls captured the meeting with the four girls who wanted to take the veil and the beginnings then of girls’ education against a background of initial hostility. One girl also imagined being Sister Roantree arriving many years later to oversee the School in England.
Sister McCormack commented, "Words cannot express how very special the girls made the Friday for the Sisters. The way the girls took aspects of our founder’s life and the first Sisters was so moving. The process brought them very much to life and showed their humanity, faith and courage."