Last year was the first year in Ireland when many schoolchildren returned to school before the end of the 12 days of Christmas. This was a result in changes by the Department of Education and Skills’ in the standardised school year. Children returned to school on the Feast of Epiphany itself last year, so the patron of primary schools in Cork, Cloyne and Ross – Bishop Paul Colton – asked parishes and schools to find ways of marking the day. The same happened again this year, although on the second day of the new school term, 6th January (Epiphany). Services were again held in schools across the Diocese.
In Saint Luke’s Parish, Douglas, Cork, school-children attended a Service in the parish church, at the end of which a representative from each year group was given a star to lead each class back to school. The stars were then displayed in each classroom.
Parishioners of Carrigaline and Monkstown joined the schoolchildren at the parish school in Carrigaline (Saint Mary’s) for an Epiphany Service which included the traditional blessing of the chalk and the blessing of the lintel of the doorway with the chalk numbers and letters: 20 + C + M + B + 15. The letters C, M, B have two meanings. They are the initials of the traditional names of the three magi: Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar. They also abbreviate the Latin words Christus mansionem benedicat, “May Christ bless the house.” The “+” signs represent the cross and 2015 is the year. 300 pieces of chalk were blessed and all of the children brought home the Service booklet together with a piece of chalk as their ‘written homework’ for that evening.
In Holy Trinity Church, Crosshaven, County Cork the children from Templebreedy National School (the school is in the churchyard) attended a special Epiphany Service where the focus was on the gifts of the Magi (the wise men) of gold, frankincense and myrrh, as well as on their journey to the crib in the Church porch which features Holy family figures, animals and visitors designed and made beautifully by Yvette MacKeown.