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Sister Teresita Declares Our Peace Garden Open

Sep 28, 2018

Sister Teresita Declares Our Peace Garden Open

Our school community enjoyed a very special gathering today as we were joined by governors, many of the Sisters of Notre Dame, members of the design and build team of our new building, staff and students from some of the Notre Dame schools around the UK, and our very special guest, Sister Teresita, Congregational Leader of the Sisters of Notre Dame.

Sister Teresita works tirelessly to visit Notre Dame schools all around the world, but as the head of a global organisation her responsibilities are great, and the demands upon her time equally so, and we were blessed indeed to enjoy her company for a visit around a normal school day yesterday before returning today to formally open our Peace Garden.

Our celebration began by gathering all of our students and guests into a very full sports hall before Mr Anderson led us in song. The opening speaker was our Chair of Governors, Sister Margaret, who spoke of her sense of wonder that the olive trees in our peace garden were alive and growing two, three and even four centuries ago. During their life they have seen the birth of St. Julie Billiart and the formation and subsequent growth of the Sisters of Notre Dame, as well as the opening of every single Notre Dame school around the world. They have lived through flood, drought, world wars and civil unrest and have survived through them all, underlining the endurance of the symbol of peace.

The celebration incorporated readings from Mrs McCourt and Mr Willis, our Head Girl and Deputy Head Girls. We enjoyed a performance of 'Stand By My' from our Choir and a flag-waving, ribbon-twirling dance performance with an epic staging set to 'World In Union' and delivered with great skill and passion.

Sister Teresita then took to the podium and surprised us all by beginning her address with a beautifully rendered unaccompanied song, to great applause. She then spoke very movingly about how she came to understand what we were aiming to achieve with our Peace Garden and how important we all are, individually and collectively, in bringing peace.

Mr Alderman then closed the first part of the celebration and invited all of those present to gather within the Peace Garden.

The youngest student in our school began the procession, leading with a wooden cross, while senior students followed with a large olive wood cross bearing the words of St. Julie: "We say again and again that God is good".

Mr Alderman then led us into the simple but powerful ceremony where the 'peace bell' that stands in the garden was tolled sixteen times, once for each olive tree, and then Sister Teresita formally declared the garden open  and led us in prayer.

As a school we would like to offer our thanks to everybody who worked so hard in preparation to make the day such a success, to all of our guests, particularly those staff and students who travelled in from as far afield as London and Glasgow, and of course to Sister Teresita who herself travelled from Nigeria to join us before travelling onwards again. We hope the day lives long in all of our students.