By Sarah Mac Donald - 28 October, 2014
Irish society is no longer prepared to accept that its children are being raised and educated for forced emigration, the Bishop of Elphin warned in an address to mark the centenary of Cliffoney Primary School in north Co Sligo.
Reminding parents of the current cohort of students that they are the “first and best teachers” of their children, Bishop Kevin Doran told them, “Others can help you, but nobody can take your place.”
Elsewhere in his address, Bishop Doran asked the question ‘For what are we raising our children’.
He said the question is as relevant today as it was one hundred years ago when Cliffoney Primary School began.
The bishop added that society isn’t happy to think of children “simply as raw material for the economy, to be used when they are need and to be cast aside when they are not.”
“They are worth much more than that, as the Gospel reminds us,” Dr Doran underlined.
Referring to the Church’s role in education, the Bishop said there were a number of reasons for the Church’s commitment to it.
“We believe that children have a right to develop their full potential and, as a Christian community, we have a responsibility to support them in doing so, irrespective of their faith or their nationality.”
“We also believe, however, that our Catholic faith helps to make sense of our human existence, by reminding us of our dignity as the children of God whom he loves and by giving us a focus for our lives which is not for this world only.”
Bishop Doran suggested that if children can be helped to see themselves as the beloved sons and daughters of God, then they can also be helped the develop an awareness of their responsibility towards others who share that same dignity.
This in turn would help them, “so that – as they grow to adult good – they develop a commitment to social solidarity, to dialogue and mutual respect, to the development of a world in which other mothers sons may live in prosperity.”
Referring to the Cliffoney Primary School’s centenary, the bishop said every september for one hundred years, the school has welcomed a new group of junior infants.
Alongside all of those children there have been all the teachers and the parents. “This school has been an integral part of the life of this community and has helped to form the community,” the bishop said in his tribute.
Recalling that one hundred years ago, there was war in Europe, Bishop Doran said he wasn’t sure if anybody from Cliffoney was there, but there were certainly a great number of Irish men among the soldiers of the Great War.
“They struggled with terrible conditions; they showed great courage; they made life-long friends. Many of them died and many more suffered terrible physical and emotional injuries.”
He said their parents had asked themselves “was it for this that we raised our children”.