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Radical openness to God in school life

Ann Marie Ennis, Communications Officer of Clongowes Wood College SJ, reported on the school visitation of Leonard Moloney SJ, former Headmaster and current Irish Jesuit Provincial, on Monday, 10 February 2020. In his talk with the students, Fr Leonard spoke about the current political climate and the consideration of important factors in the students’ education. He encouraged them to be open to God and each other, while highlighting such qualities in Fr Michael McGuckian SJ, who recently left the school to “bridge the gap and overcome division” in Turkey. Read the report below.

A Welcoming and Inclusive Environment

We welcomed Fr Leonard Moloney SJ, Irish Jesuit Provincial and former Headmaster of Clongowes (2004-2015), on his annual visit to the college yesterday to meet with the Jesuit community, students and staff. Delivering morning prayer in the concourse, he reflected on the importance of making others feel included and welcomed into our lives.

Fr Leonard also posed some important questions for the school community to consider:

Is education important?

Fr Moloney spoke about the current political climate and how, for the first time in the history of the State, three parties will seek to take responsibility for the running of the country. He hoped that the new government will look at the whole country and its needs while also focusing on the boys’ generation which is instrumental in the future of this planet. He spoke about sport and friendly rivalry and compared it to the type of rivalry that can spark a war. Fr Leonard reminded us that the most vulnerable suffer the most during conflicts. He shared Abraham Lincoln’s first political quote – [that education is] the most important subject which we as a people can be engaged in because it gives us the ability to read the histories of our own, and other countries whilst teaching us to appreciate the value of our free institution.

What Can Bring about Unity?

Fr Leonard shared his conversation with Fr Michael McGuckian SJ, who recently left Clongowes to take up a post in Ankara, Turkey. Ankara, Fr Leonard said, is not an easy city to live in as it is both anti-Christian and anti-Western, but this did not deter Fr Michael who immediately replied, “If you want me to go, I will”. Fr Leonard explained that it was Fr Michael’s openness to different circumstances and to other people that allowed him to bridge the gap and overcome division. He proposed to the boys that, when they leave Clongowes, they do so as a year group where every single student feels included. He said that the saddest thing to see at a Year Reunion is the absence of one or more students because they felt, for some reason, alienated by their classmates. He encouraged the boys to work on understanding the point of view of others using the example of Fr Michael, who went to Ankara because he loves God, saying that if his superior is asking him to go then that it must be God’s will. He asked the boys to open their lives to God and to be unified as a class group, adding that such openness will help to ensure there are no more wars in our time.

Fr Moloney concluded by remembering the recently deceased, Mr Julian Chapman (OC’53), who worked in the Finance Office from 1976 to 2000. He dedicated the closing prayer to him, his wife Brenda and his family. May he rest in peace.