A Farewell Mass was held at Saint Paul’s to say goodbye to Year 11 students who are leaving the school this summer. Staff and students joined together to celebrate their five successful years at Saint Paul’s and also to say goodbye to Fr Michael Murray who is leaving the school as he retires after many years of very valuable service and support.
Readings were read by the Head Boy and Head Girl. The first reading from St Paul’s letter to the Philippians encouraged the departing students to focus on “things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely and honourable.”
In the Gospel, Fr Michael proclaimed the imperative to “Love the lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and love your neighbour as yourself” and shared words of encouragement and blessing for the student’s journey ahead.
Mrs Ellie Caldwell, Assistant Headteacher, who has been the senior link for the year group shared a reflection about a little boy throwing starfish into the sea. This describes the approach Saint Paul’s has to every student, each of whom is seen as uniquely gifted and loved as an individual.
At the end each student was given a bookmark which provides a lasting reminder of the school prayer and encouraging words from the book of Jeremiah: “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope for the future.”
Fr Michael also blessed a cross shaped lapel badge for each leaver. This was a gift from the school for students to wear of a daily reminder of the school’s Christian values of love, compassion, stewardship, respect and service.
The liturgy colluded with every student signing their name on cross shaped boards.
“The students appreciated the importance and significance of this special event. It was a lovely Mass; all the staff and students joined together to reflect, pray and celebrate the past five years,” explained Mrs Lisa Baillie, Assistant Headteacher. “We wanted to acknowledge the sadness of their leaving but also to look forward to what life’s got to offer in the future. It is difficult to leave people and places and go off to start a new life somewhere else but at the same time there is also a great deal of excitement and anticipation. They will take with them confidence, pride and a sense of achievement.”
“It’s heart-warming to see the emotion and enthusiasm of the students and for them to share such a special event with their friends and teachers. Several of the pupils commented on how much they’d enjoyed it,” commented Mr Ric Slatter, Lay Chaplain. “After the formal celebration it then fell to Year 11 Progress Leader, Mr Danny Pyatt, to remind his year group of how far they’ve come. This included some heartfelt words from him and a video he’d made which was packed with embarrassing photos of every student from Year 7 and memories from the last 5 years. There were also messages recorded by their teachers which ranged from the tearful goodbyes to comical stories. There was a great atmosphere of appreciation and gratitude from leavers and staff alike.”
Mr Tony Billings, Executive Headteacher, said: “We wanted to mark the achievements of our Year 11 students with a special Mass of thanksgiving. It’s hard to say goodbye and we will miss the Year 11s. The Leavers’ Mass gave us the opportunity to celebrate their time at Saint Paul’s and to wish them well as they look forward to the next stage in their life whether it be sixth form college, an apprenticeship or a first step on the career path.”