Celebration of 50 Years at St Paul's High School in Bessbrook continued today with a Golden Jubilee Mass of Thanksgiving in the school's sports hall with Archbishop Eamon Martin, Primate of all Ireland, the main celebrant.

St. Paul’s opened in September 1966 and over the ensuing years has gone from strength to strength. 

Guests at the mass included past principals, chaplains, original pupils and staff from 1966; members of our board of governors and of course our present pupils and staff.

Archbishop Eamon Martin with Principal Mr Jarlath Burns and current Head Boys and Head Girls at St Paul’s High School, Bessbrook: From left: Richard Keenan, Kerrie Fegan, Tara Clarke and Jack McKevitt . Photograph: Columba O'Hare
Archbishop Eamon Martin with Principal Mr Jarlath Burns and current Head Boys and Head Girls at St Paul’s High School, Bessbrook: From left: Richard Keenan, Kerrie Fegan, Tara Clarke and Jack McKevitt . Photograph: Columba O'Hare

The music was performed by the school choirs under the direction of Mr Colm Murphy, Ms Bridie Mc Evoy and Mr Peter Slane. It was an integral part of the celebrations helping to create a spiritually up- lifting, joyous and moving experience for all. 

In thanking all those who contributed to the Mass, Jarlath Burns, principal, paid tribute to the staff and pupils who had passed away during the past fifty years and said the school community held them in a special place in their hearts. He also had a special word of praise for the three past principals who were in attendance and whose work and effort had got the school to the place it is today. He welcomed principals from the local schools and stated that St. Paul's enjoys excellent relations with all its partner schools. He concluded by saying that this was a momentous day for the school and that all involved should feel proud of what the school stands for and what it has achieved and that the future was bright for a school that is so close to the hearts of the people of south Armagh.

Giving his reading on the Feast of the Holy Face of Jesus Archbishop Eamon Martin said “If we were true to the motto of St Paul’s Bessbrook (from St Paul’s letter to the Ephesians) “In caritate radicati”. or “Rooted in Charity”, ‘rooted in love’, then people would have no problem seeing in us the face of Jesus, and we would be quick to recognise the same in them. That is why I am pleased that, since this school’s foundation 50 years ago, it has always considered it important to value and celebrate the gifts and goodness in all its pupils and staff and visitors. And that of course is what Saint Paul himself would want of you, because, as he writes to the Romans in today’s Second Reading - “the body has many different parts, and all these parts have different functions, but we are all called to use our different gifts as God wants us to”. This school has consistently found ways of bringing together a whole variety of gifts, in its pupils, its staff, its supportive parents, its Governors and chaplains, so that together the sum total of all these gifts is greater than all its parts!

"Today I want to thank the generations of people who have made St Paul’s the great school that it is, proud of its fine tradition of faith and culture, and “rooted” in the love of God. This school has become a beacon of education that is open to all and challenging for all, education that appreciates the wide range of talents and abilities of young people, challenging them all to excellence - not just academically or in sport and music (although St Paul’s does that so well). but also in values like kindness, friendship, generosity, Christian charity, and awareness of others.”

The year’s celebrations will be completed with an exciting Gala Ball in The Carrickdale Hotel, on May 5th. Further details on the ball and other events can be obtained from the school.