60th anniversary at St Columba’s College

60th anniversary at St Columba’s College

10 April 2019

STUDENTS at the 60th anniversary mass of St Columba’s College in Portaferry were told by a priest not to “let others rob you of your identity through Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram”.

Fr Feargal McGrady, parish priest of Portaferry and Ballygalget, advised 170 students last Tuesday: “Listen to your parents and teachers and appreciate your own ability.  

“Such a positive outlook will inspire confidence and the will to meet the challenges that lie ahead and if in doubt make sure you speak to a reliable someone to help with your concerns.”

The mass was concelebrated in St Patrick’s Church, Ballyphillip, by Bishop Noel Treanor, Fr McGrady, and a number of other priests. The service was followed by a reception at the school.

St Columba’s is one of four schools, along with St Mary’s High School, St Patrick’s Grammar and De La Salle High in Downpatrick, which will learn later this month whether they will be merged under a proposal from the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools.

Fr McGrady reminded the audience of the strong connection of the history of education in Upper Ards before and after St Columba’s was established in January 7,1959.

He also spoke of the college’s namesake, the Donegal monk Columba.

“Columba was a life-long scholar and it’s fitting St Columba’s is named after him,” said Fr McGrady.

“If he was with us today I think he would be very proud to be associated with St Columba’s College.  As was the case with the Department of Education inspectors, he would recognise the very good and very effective education which the school has provided over the last 60 years.  

“He would admire the good relationships between teacher, pupils and parents and the high standards achieved by students of all abilities, particularly the most vulnerable.”

Fr McGrady acknowledged the contribution of all involved with the college: governors, PTFA, all staff and pupils, echoing former vice-principal Mrs Margaret Caughey’s view that St Columba’s was “family school, whose door was always open to the community, supporting pupils through the joys, sorrows and their chosen paths in life”.

He said that many of the staff had spent 40 years working in the college and added: “I’m very conscious also of the presence here today of many of the past and present staff members of St Columba’s including our own Fr John McManus, a past member of staff, who preached at the golden jubilee mass 10 years ago.”

Fr McGrady told the assembled staff: “You have all contributed to the reputation of the college.  Your presence is a tribute to the strong bonds that have been forged through the past 60 years. 

“Many past staff members have sadly gone and many more are enjoying retirement but we have a new wave of teachers who are continuing the work ethic that has been the keystone of our success and you are to be congratulated on your commitment and professionalism.”