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Second Level Schools Service sees students urged to promote peace

Participants in the Second Level Schools’ Service with Garda Marc Kelly.
Participants in the Second Level Schools’ Service with Garda Marc Kelly.

Hundreds of secondary school students from around Ireland converged on St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, on Thursday afternoon (September 27) for the annual service marking the start of the academic year.

The service, which is organised by the General Synod Board of Education (RI), was attended by Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, who also read a lesson. The Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Revd Dr Michael Jackson, presided and the service was led by the Dean, the Very Revd William Morton. The theme of the service was peace and reconciliation and the speaker this year was Garda Marc Kelly, a member of An Garda Síochána from the nearby Kevin Street Garda Station.

As part of the service, the Minister and students wrote messages for those affected by violence and conflict on prayer leaves. These leaves, along with 30,000 others which have been attached to the Tree of Remembrance in St Patrick’s Cathedral since its installation in 2014, will be suspended from the ceiling of the nave of the cathedral. This is part of a special project to symbolise the 30,000 Irish people who lost their lives in World War I as part of commemorations marking the end of the war.

In his address, Garda Kelly told the students about his role, and that of his fellow Gardaí, as keepers of the peace. He said that their main aim in the event of a breach of the peace is that people leave the situation in a better position than they arrived.

He suggested that the best way to deal with an argument was through communication. Shouting and overreacting rarely led to a resolution, he said. “The key to finding a resolution and peaceful cooperation is to take a step back and look at the situation from the other person’s point of view, from their shoes. This brings empathy and understanding,” he said.

He concluded by asking for the students’ help in promoting peace, understanding and empathy throughout the island of Ireland.

Minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor with Archbishop Michael Jackson and Dean William Morton at the Second Level Schools Service in St Patrick's Cathedral.
Minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor with Archbishop Michael Jackson and Dean William Morton at the Second Level Schools Service in St Patrick's Cathedral.

Report and photography by Lynn Glanville, Dublin & Glendalough Communications Officer.

Board of Education (RI)

The Board of Education (Republic of Ireland) represents the Church of Ireland in all educational matters applying to the State, including as an education partner with the Department of Education and Skills and other educational bodies.  It also supports religious education in primary schools under Protestant management and provides support, training and advice to primary level patrons and boards of management.

Dr Ken Fennelly

Secretary
Church of Ireland House
Church Avenue
Rathmines
Dublin 6
D06 CF67
+353 (0)1 4125 609

ken.fennelly@rcbdub.org