A number of teachers and parents from Belvedere College SJ spoke about their own lives of being parents on a faith journey as part of the series of talks for parents, staff, past pupils and the wider Belvedere Community at the school chapel on Thursday, May 10, 2018. The discussion was facilitated by Pádraig Swan, Director of Faith and Service Programmes.
Teachers and parents sat around the altar with lighted candles along with Brother Eamonn Davis SJ in what was reported as a very prayerful setting. Pádraig Swan said: “I introduced my own faith story and noted that I was of a generation whereby faith and community were very much interlinked. I recalled Pope John Paul II’s visit to Ireland as a 13-year-old and how this event acted as a catalyst for youth ministry. As a young person, I practised my faith through traditional prayers until I visited the Taizé community in France where I developed my faith through the gift of silent prayer and chanting.”
Pádraig then spent three years in the priesthood, and after leaving went on to work in Business for 20 years. Later, his vocation took a full circle when he came to work for Slí Eile Jesuit young adult ministry and after that in Belvedere. He sees a very different Church and faith context nowadays among the students he works with. Although they have many challenges, he says they have a great openness and that they embrace the many faith and justice programmes available in the school in a very rich way. Religion teacher Gerry J. Foley also shared his faith journey, growing up in a London Catholic family and later connecting with his Irish roots as a teacher in Belvedere.
These stories stimulated conversations among parents who expressed their joys and challenges in a faith context. They discussed how to connect with the next generation which included providing freedom for young people to explore their faith and creating moments of encounter such as the Taizé experience and various retreats and programmes. It is hoped especially through the moments of encounter that Belvedere will create an intimate faith sharing atmosphere for the students.
Pádraig said: “People at the event also resonated with Mickey Harte’s talk on faith in times of struggle in April, and they made references to his powerful story. They also recalled writer and journalist Breda O’Brien and her husband Brendan Conroy from February’s talk about their experience of being a faith family.
“Overall, the series of talks enabled the Belvedere community to focus on faith in families, relationships with Church, and faith between generations. It was an enriching experience that showed the interconnection between parents, staff, past pupils and the wider Belvedere Community. There is also a new vibrancy of relationships among parents and a better understanding to how Belvedere can support them.”