The day began at 10am when students were welcomed by Dr Marie Griffin of CEIST and Dr Gareth Byrne, Associate Professor of Religious Education and Director of Mater Dei Centre for Catholic Education, DCU. His Excellency, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin also spoke and thanked so many students and teachers for making the journey to Dublin for the conference.
Students from Sancta Maria College, Ballyroan read the official prayer from World Meeting of Families while the CEIST candle was lit to symbolise the light of Christ guiding all CEIST students and uniting us all in one school faith community.
Representatives from the World Meeting of Families had addressed the students at last year’s conference and were invited to volunteer at the Papal Mass which took place last summer in the Phoenix Park, Dublin. A 6th year student from St. Joseph’s College Lucan, gave a wonderful presentation of her school’s involvement in this event. A video made by CEIST showing interviews and pictures taken from students volunteering at the event was shown. Dr Marie Griffin thanked all the students and schools for their help during the Papal Mass and encouraged all students present to get involved in community events where possible.
Students were then divided into smaller groups. Each group was assigned to a different classroom where volunteer teachers presented a workshop entitled “Well-being and Hope in the light of CEIST values”. Student leaders from some of the schools then made their own presentations to demonstrate how they had shown leadership in their own schools.
After a beautiful lunch provided by St. Patrick’s College DCU everyone returned to the main lecture theatre where each school was presented with a gift of two stoles, two ciboria and a copy of the Papal Encyclical “The Joy of Love” kindly given by the World Meeting of Families in thanks for CEIST’s involvement in the Papal mass.
Professor Daire Keogh, Professor of History and Deputy President Dublin City University, then spoke to the students about Leadership and congratulated them all on the work they were doing as leaders in their own schools.
The Keynote speaker was Minister of State at the Department of Education with special responsibility for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor. The Minister was welcomed by students from Presentation Tuam, of which she was a former student, and Presentation Secondary School Rockford Manner which are in her constituency. In 1999 Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor became principal of The Harold Primary School, Glasthule, Co. Dublin, a position she held until her election to Dáil Éireann. She was delighted to find that one of the students who welcomed her was also one of her former students from The Harold Primary School, Glasthule. Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor spoke to the students about the importance of leadership and also spoke of her ongoing encouragement for equality for women in the workplace. She urged all students to follow their dreams and informed them of the places available for them in further education, apprentices or university once they finish school. She highlighted the fact that she as a woman is in a small minority in Dáil Éireann. The conference ended where Dr Marie Griffin presented a bouquet of flowers to the Minister.