Community Feast Day Celebrations 2022

Community Feast Day Celebrations 2022

It was with great pleasure that, on Friday 18 November 2022, our school community came together to celebrate Community Feast Day; a day dedicated to our founder, Abbé Louis Lafosse and the Sisters of Religious of Christian Education.  It was their commitment to the education of young women that led to the foundation of Farnborough Hill in 1889.

In our morning Assembly, led by Ms Callaghan, we were asked to consider the wonderful message of Abbé Louis Lafosse and his insistence that teaching must be with joy in our hearts and to be wholehearted in all we do.  We heard the story of the courage of four young women in the little village of Échauffour, France, who became the first four teachers.  The day that these four women, led by Mother Marie-Anne Dutertre, took their vows to become Sisters of the RCE, began the annual Feast Day that we celebrate today.  We were reminded in Assembly of how that small beginning in the French village church quickly grew to encompass many such schools for girls around the world, continuing the work of Lafosse.  We thought about our own Sisters who had worked in Farnborough Hill, several of whom left in the last few years who are now living in Ireland and England, and who, we all know, pray for us daily.  We were delighted to all receive lovely chocolates from the Sisters during Assembly as part of our celebrating their Feast day.  We were also happy to hear how much they enjoyed receiving our gifts of flowers, small tokens of biblical messages, beautiful cards made by each Form and a Mass offered for them by the monks at St Augustine’s Abbey in Chilworth.

We had a beautiful Mass on Community Feast Day celebrating the Feast of the Presentation of Mary. The Chaplaincy Team worked together with preparation and guidance from Mrs Dalton and tremendous support from Mrs Davy, Mrs Swire and Mrs Downie.  We were pleased to welcome Fr Patrick Sherlock SDB, Chaplain of Salesian College and Rector of the Farnborough Salesian Community.  The Senior Choir got us off to a joyful start, with altar servers gracefully processing in with Fr Patrick.  The readers were all volunteers from Year 9 and did a beautiful job.  Fr Patrick gave a touching homily about the story of the young Mary dancing on the steps of the altar with joy and love.  His story was rather fitting for Community Feast Day, especially as it is also linked with the three promises from the Sisters’ vows and highlights how we as a school strive to keep joy and love in our hearts.  This year we were lucky enough to have Sister Elizabeth renew her vows in front of us during the Mass.  This Community Feast Day is also very special as it included what we hope will be a new tradition, the Blessing of the Altar Servers, with all 21 of our wonderful Servers coming forward to receive a blessing from Fr. Patrick.  It was a very beautiful and surreal moment. 

In the month of November, Christians traditionally remember those who have come before us by blessing their graves.  A selection of pupils joined Dr James Quinnell, Dr Ian Taylor, Mrs Maria Davy, Mrs Emma Judge, Mrs Lauren McCready, Miss Ella Federico, Sr Elizabeth McCormack, Ms Alexandra Callaghan and Fr Patrick Sherlock SDB, for the blessing of the graves.  Fr Patrick offered a prayer and blessing, encouraging everyone to say the Sister's name aloud of whose grave they blessed with a rose.  By praying and saying the names of these women, we remember all that they worked for and continue their legacy.  The central grave, that of Mother Roantree, looks over all the Sisters’ graves, as she looked over them all in life. It is because of these strong, dedicated women that Farnborough Hill is here today.

Mother Roantree’s life was also the focus of the afternoon's entertainment, which was filmed and watched by all pupils, as well as by the Sisters in various parts of the world.  Annie (11α) gave us a glimpse into Mother Roantree’s life and we reflected on the fourteen stations of the cross that are in the Chapel, as we listened to glorious music from the Music Department, led by Dr Ian Taylor.  The stations of the cross had been placed on the Chapel walls in honour of Mother Roantree’s fifty years of work as a Sister of the RCE.  Other stories were also told in the filmed celebratory accounts, as members of the Lower Sixth imagined what it would have been like for the first four Sisters in Échauffour.  Our Upper Sixth English students took us through the story of Abbé Louis Lafosse and the Sisters and we were treated to music from choirs and ensembles too, as well as Ami (L6DEM) who played the saxophone while we saw photographs of the origins of the church at Échauffour.  We ended the film with Year 11 pupils enacting the song Ave Maria from Sister Act, capturing the joy and wholehearted love we have for our Sisters and gratitude for their work that has led to our beautiful school. We hope our Sisters had a very happy Feast Day.