I am very pleased to come here to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the opening of St. Mary’s Primary School, Cabragh.  I am very grateful for the word of welcome on the part of Mr Kelly. 

It is a sign of maturity on your part.  It is a sign that you appreciate the important place which education has as a preparation for life. 

I thank and congratulate the committee who organised this evening’s function.  I am glad that you decided to mark the occasion with a Mass and I thank you for the beautiful setting for this Mass. 

I note that the school is dedicated to Mary, the Mother of God.  The Celtic cross reminds us of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, and I am delighted to hear that the development of faith and prayer in St. Mary’s Primary School has always been at the core of the school’s Catholic ethos.  Over the years some 1,200 people have heard the sound of that bell. 

Tonight is a good night to stop and see what it means to have a Catholic school.  I am usually coming here for Confirmation and I remember some outstanding features of those in particular the excellent music.

I come as a successor of St. Patrick this evening.

I come to make a special plea to each and every parent here-present to work in close co-operation with the great teachers here in this school.  They say there are three legs on the stool of education.  If any one leg is missing, the stool heels over.  The three legs are:

Pupils                    teachers                parents

I want to pay tribute to parents and teachers who are doing their best to pass on all that is best to the children over the last forty years.  Don’t deny the children what they are entitled to.  They are entitled to be taught how to pray – not just in school – but to be taught how to pray at home.  A good example of parents and families is what counts.

I had the joy of being down in Attymass about a week ago to the native place of Father Patrick Peyton – the Rosary Priest.  He said three things:

Try prayer – it works

So, as a family, try prayer, it works.

The family that prays together stays together.

The third thing he emphasised was:

The world that pray, is a world at peace

Pope John Paul II took up that phrase:  The family that prays together stays together and quoted it in his letter on the Rosary.  He said the Rosary was his favourite prayer.  He had used it all his life but, in a special way, during his twenty-five years as Pope and that he had confided his toughest problems Our Lady and she had never let him down. 

I think children are entitled to be given a sense of responsibility.  Everybody must take responsibility for their actions. 

I thank in particular the teachers for the work of preparing children for the sacraments – First Confession; First Communion and Confirmation.  But the one big task is for you to try and introduce your children to know Christ.  He is our one and only Saviour.

When I became a bishop, I chose a motto.  I chose as my motto:  To know Christ Jesus   As a task for myself i wanted not just to know about him but know him as a person and to try to model, in my own life, the values and qualities he had. 

I have just returned from Dublin where I was at a funeral of a friend – Father Brian O’Higgins.  We had known each other for 44 years.  He was a Parish Priest in London and it was fantastic to see a busload of people who came for the funeral this morning to celebrate his life.  Brian O’Higgins was a man who gave his life to serve those people in London and to help them to know Christ Jesus. 

Earlier this week I was also in Dublin for Mass for the executed leaders of the 1916 in Arbour Hill.  It was a bit of an experience.  Again these people are honoured because they made sacrifices for the sake of other people.  They were prepared to volunteer.
There is a great need for people to volunteer to give some of their time and their talents for the sake of others – for people who are less well off. 

I appeal to parents therefore to make every effort to pass your faith.  It is not easy in these times.  There are a lot of difficulties – there are a lot of opposition but is it passport to Heaven to eternal life.  Don’t let anything prevent you from trying.