One of the first goals of the Reverend Anne Skuse when she was appointed part-time chaplain at Bandon Grammar School, County Cork, was to persuade the Board of Management to set aside space in the school’s Richmond House for use as a chapel. The Board readily agreed and the new chapel was prepared under the supervision of school bursar George Bradfield.
The room chosen was once the headmaster’s study – a place of oversight, care, stewardship, pastoral concern, advice, and, no doubt, at times, some discipline! The room subsequently became a Board Room where decisions were made. For a time it was a place of academic study and reflection. Now all those elements are consummated in the space’s new purpose, as a school chapel. On Friday, 17th October, the Bishop of Cork, the Right Reverend Dr Paul Colton, set aside and dedicated the room for its new use as a Chapel. He was joined by the Archbishop of Armagh, the Most Reverend Dr Richard Clarke who was the school’s guest at the annual prize day ceremony later that day. Appropriately, the Archbishop dedicated a Bible, given by the school community in memory of Mrs Linda Clarke, who had been a religious education teacher at the school.
Bishop Colton drew the gathered community of students, teachers, parents and Board members, to the rarity and unique features of a Dedication Service such as this in Cork, Cloyne and Ross. He said:
The last entirely separate Church building to be consecrated in this Diocese was consecrated by Bishop Meade in 1905 in Aherla – St Mark’s Church, Kilbonane. Since then a number of chapels within buildings and institutions have been dedicated, but not many: the Chapel of Christ the Healer in Cork University Hospital, the new Chapel at St Luke’s Home, and the Chapel of St Andrew at Ashton Comprehensive School. This is a rare and special occasion. It is a wonderful and holy thing for God that Bandon Grammar School are creating this space to gather as a community of the Word and of the Sacraments.
The school community processed from the Deane Building (an academic building built in recent years and named in honour of a former chairperson of the School Board, Canon JLB Deane). The various furnishings and gifts for the new Chapel were carried in procession, as well as the Paschal Candle from the local parish Church – St Peter’s, Bandon emphasising the school’s connection with and place within the local Church of Ireland Parish.
The Bishop knocked on the door of the Chapel saying words from Psalm 24: ‘Lift up your heads of you gates, and be lifted up you everlasting doors, and the King of glory shall come in.’ And the students shouted back, ‘Who is this King of Glory?’ To which the reply came: ‘It is the Lord …” and the door was opened. The Bishop marked the threshold with the sign of the cross and marking the floor of the new Chapel claiming ‘the possession of this space in the name of Christ. He is Alpha and he is Omega, the beginning and the end…’
The Chapel was then dedicated by the celebration of the Eucharist during which the Archbishop dedicated the Bible and read the Gospel. As well as the Chapel itself, also dedicated or consecrated were: a Book of Common Prayer for use on the altar (given by the Parents’ Representative Association), a batik of the dove of the Holy Spirit created by the school Art and Home Economics Departments, a cross and candlesticks made by the school Woodwork Department, altar linen (also the gift of the Parents’ Representative Association), and, a chalice, paten, lavabo and cruet set (given by Canon Paul and Mrs Amanda Willoughby in thanksgiving for the education of their children at the school). Canon Willoughby is Chairperson of the Board of Management).
It was an historic and moving occasion of celebration and joy.
Here are some more of the photos: