Chapel is restored to school

Chapel is restored to school

23 November 2011 - by CIARA COLHOUN

ASSUMPTION Grammar School’s new oratory will soon open. 

The Ballynahinch school’s chapel will be ready for Christmas, spelling the end to a seven-year fundraising project.

The finishing touches are now being put to the new chapel, which will seat up to 180 students.

The facility will incorporate stained glass windows from the original chapel and will command sweeping views over the Ballynahinch countryside and a birds’ eye view of Windmill Hill.

Sr. Maureen Carville, who has helped oversee the project, enjoyed a tour around the oratory on Monday as a team of joiners worked towards their Christmas deadline.

She said she was delighted the project was nearing completion and looked forward to Assumption Grammar School having the chapel at its centre once again.

The school’s original chapel was demolished alongside its convent in 2004 to make way for the new school building. As the Department of Education would not fund a church as part of the new school, a major fundraising drive was launched to raise vital funds for the development.

Sr. Maureen said she was delighted by the ideas of the original architect for the scheme, Mr. Cliff Spence, who suggested creating the oratory as a rotunda to echo and reflect the historic windmill on Windmill Hill.

She said she believed 

it was important for students at the school to be aware 

of the history of Ballynahinch and hoped they would 

appreciate this history being incorporated into the new design.

“The Ballynahinch windmill was the inspiration for the rotunda as it is the area’s landmark feature,” she said.

“Our architect wanted to draw the environment into the design of the building and we are delighted with the result.

“We are now very much looking forward to having the new chapel for the girls to use. 

“A full generation of students have missed having a chapel within the school and hopefully the habit the girls used to have of calling into the oratory after arriving off the school bus will start up again.

“It has been designed in such a way as to be the centre of the school as we are a school based on faith and that sees Christ at its centre. His presence with us in the oratory will be central to life in the school.

“It will be an oasis in the heart of the school for times of personal prayer and reflection.”

Assumption Grammar School’s head of religion, Ms. Maire Daly, said an oratory was essential element to Assumption Grammar School and its history.

“It will be a sacred place for the school community,” she said.

“We feel we have had so much support throughout this fundraising project and that support makes the school feel that what it is doing is valuable.

“We are delighted the oratory will soon be open after seven years of preparation and planning.”