Women in Education Conference

Laurel Hill Collaiste FCJ secondary school

Sr Marie fcJ gives an account of the Women in Education Conference

Laurel Hill Coláiste followed its own inspiration on how best to mark our FCJ Bicentenary year.  Their advertisement read,

As part of the FCJ Bicentenary celebrations and to mark the 175th anniversary of the opening of the FCJ schools at Laurel Hill in 1844 by the foundress Marie Madeleine d’Houët at the request of the Bishop of Limerick, Dr. Ryan, Laurel Hill Coláiste FCJ will hold an Education Conference on Women in Education on Saturday 29 Feb.

Storm Jorge was rampant on the day but in spite of this, a goodly number attended – with twenty three FCJs among the group.  Norma Lenihan, acting Principal of the Coláiste welcomed everybody.  Sr. Bríd, leader of FCJ sisters in the Area of Europe, in her address shared some of the history of the foundress and the setting up of schools for the education of the poorer and underprivileged children of the time.  Sr. Madeleine developed the evolution of the schools over the past 200 years while Sr. Eileen concentrated on the charism of the FCJs especially companionship, gentleness, respect and understanding.

The keynote speaker was Professor Niamh Hourigan, a past pupil of the Coláiste and Vice President at Mary Immaculate College, Limerick.  She pointed out that in 1844; Ireland was passing through a critical time from the point of view of education and the economy.  Marie Madeleine d’Houët came and immediately set up schools in vacant buildings until the property at Laurel Hill came on the market.  She gave an excellent presentation on the FCJ legacy in education in Limerick.

On a very interesting note Marinella Raftery, acting Deputy Principal of Laurel Hill Coláiste, with the help of some present students presented Pumping up the Volume on the Student Voice in the 21st Century in Second Level Schools.  The session stressed the importance of the involvement of the students in their own education and was very well presented by Marinella and the students involved.

The buffet lunch was followed by a panel discussion, featuring some prominent FCJ past pupils as well as Eilis Humphries, CEO of the Le Chéile Schools Trust.  These women had leading roles in many areas of life in Limerick and it was most interesting to hear their stories and their views on the education of women today.

A Mass of celebration and thanksgiving in Laurel Hill Chapel prepared very carefully by school chaplains Srs. Geraldine and Teresa sealed the day’s celebration.  Fr Chris O’Donnell, grandnephew of Sr. Clare, fcJ entered into the joy and gratitude of the celebratory occasion with enthusiasm and zest. The opening hymn was  a beautiful rendition of the Bicentenary song sung by some students with the congregation joining in the chorus. There was much appreciation for the Communion reflection – a litany invoking the intercession of  Venerable Marie Madeleine d’Houët.

Fade not precious memories but keep on igniting !

The Women in Education conference is part of the celebrations of the bicentenary of the foundation of the Sisters Faithful Companions of Jesus (1820-2020). Follow our bicentenary celebrations on the Bicentenary News page and on social media #FCJ200.

Read about the history of Laurel Hill Coláiste FCJ:

Laurel Hill Coláiste FCJ: History and Evolution (1935- 2009)