On Monday 24th September, 2012, Monsignor Eamon Martin dedicated the newly completed Oratory, ‘Díseartán Mhuire’, in St. Mary’s College, Derry. Monsignor Martin began his visit by celebrating Solemn Benediction in the Assembly Hall before placing the Blessed Sacrament in the Tabernacle of the new Oratory.
Srs. Winifred Kiernan & Paula O’Doherty with the Principal Mrs Lindsay processing to the new Oratory
The 24th September was specially chosen as a significant date as it was ‘Mercy Day’, a day dedicated to celebrate the work of the Mercy Order. The history of St. Mary’s is rooted in Mercy tradition. In 1959 the Sisters of Mercy opened Derry’s first catholic all-girls secondary school on the former site on Fanad Drive. The first four Principals of the school were Mercy nuns, Sisters Emmanuel, Gertrude, Aloysius and Assumption who, along with a number of other Sisters, contributed greatly to the education of many young Derry women.
To keep alive the links with the Mercy tradition, the Sisters of Mercy generously granted the school permission to have a copy of the painting “Our Lady of Derry” by Sr. Aloysius’ to be depicted on a specially commissioned stained glass window which was unveiled in the Oratory on that day. Also an icon entitled “Our Lady of Perpetual Help” painted by Mr Richard Sinclair (pupil of Sr. Aloysius) and presented to the School by the artist in her memory, was also unveiled at the ceremony.
Our Lady of Derry Painting, depicted onto a Stained Glass Window in the Oratory
The event was attended by a number of Mercy Sisters from across the city and province including Sr. Deirdre Mullan, executive director of The Partnership for Global Education at the United Nations and Sr. Assumpta O’Neill, former Principal. Many former teaching staff were also present at this very special event.
Sisters and former Teachers with the Principal Mrs Lindsay
The dedication ceremony ended with the first performance of the school prayer set to music in honour of the occasion. The School Prayer, based on the letters of our motto Truth, was written by the Liturgy Team for the 50th anniversary of the school in 2009. The School Prayer has become embedded in the daily prayer life of the school and is said every morning at Assembly.
The name chosen for ‘Díseartán Mhuire’ is steeped in Celtic tradition. The Irish word for a hermitage is ‘díseart’ meaning ‘small hermitage’ – a place of refuge, prayer and meditation for monks. The name ‘Mhuire’ is a special form of ‘Mary’ in Irish used exclusively to honour the Virgin Mary. Therefore the name of the Oratory is a reminder to us of our school, of our history, and of our traditional Irish faith. It is a small, quiet place where we can think and pray like the monk in his ‘díseartán’ in the early days of the Church.
Sisters present with the Principal Mrs Lindsay, Monsignor Martin and Mrs Gay Durkan, Chair of the Board of Management
Díseartán Mhuire’ has now become the new centrepiece of our school community. It is a quiet space for pupils, staff and visitors to go for a few moments of quiet prayer and reflection.