Holy Faith Sisters in Greystones
The Holy Faith Sisters in Greystones by Sr. Anna Power.
At the beginning of the twentieth century the Rev. Nicholas Donnelly, Parish Priest of Bray and Greystones, invited the Holy Faith Congregation to establish a convent in Greystones in order to provide Catholic Education for the Catholic children of that parish and its environs. Some Holy Faith Sisters who lived in Kilcoole Convent were already teaching in Blacklion School within the Greystones Parish. That school was built in 1845 and 58 years later, in 1903, the Holy Faith Sisters took over responsibility for it.
The Sisters travelled each day to Greystones in a pony and trap which was driven by one of their pupils. Following the death of the Holy Faith foundress, Margaret Alyward, Mother Agnes Vickers became the first Superior General of the Congregation. Six Sisters, the founding members of the Greystones Convent, left Glasnevin on the 1st of September, 1906. They lived in Kilcoole pending the completion of their new convent in Greystones. A clause in the lease of the site acquired for the convent in Greystones prevented the Sisters from establishing a “free school” on the property ‘lest it should lower the tone of the locality’. Therefore, part of the new building was set aside for a private Day School for Young Ladies and a Junior School for Boys and Girls in those rooms in the convent which were first completed.
On the 2nd September, 1906, seven pupils were enrolled and the school was officially opened the following day. The first Mass was celebrated in a temporary chapel on the 2nd of October, the feast of the Holy Angels, and the convent was named Our Lady of the Angels.
In 1917, our free schools were brought under the National Board of Education and then a National School for Girls was established in the convent. A similar one for boys, catering for infants to 14 year olds, was established in Blacklion. Two Sisters were responsible for Blacklion School until the Christian Brothers came to Greystones in 1941. At the time of transfer there were 79 boys on the roll. A Boys’ School Register dating back to 1872, the earliest Greystones parochial record, is kept in the Archives of the Holy Faith Congregation in Glasnevin. Increasing pupil numbers eventually necessitated the provision of additional accommodation and resources. Over the years, the Sisters responded to this need by purchasing a number of properties: St. David’s House on the sea front for the Intermediate classes (1941); Lewis’ Hotel on Kimberly Road to provide a boarding facility (1955); the field adjacent to St. David’s which became known as ‘The Hockey Field’ (1955); ‘Silverstream’, a private residence, which when purchased retained its name, to accommodate the Junior Classes (1961). ‘Liscarrig House’ was acquired as temporary accommodation while plans for a 700-pupil school were drawn up and approved (1975).
The 1970’s brought a rapid expansion in the population of Greystones. Huge changes had to be made in the schooling accommodation. St. Brigid’s Primary School replaced the building which housed the Boarding School. Where St. David’s House, the hockey field and Liscarrig House once stood, now stands St. David’s Secondary School.
Since that opening day of the 3rd of September, 1906, many Holy Faith Sisters have, with the dedicated support of colleagues and parents, provided both primary and secondary education to thousands of young people in the Greystones area. At the heart of that project has been the firm conviction that God’s loving compassionate concern for each one is what gives meaning and hope to every life. It has been our privilege as Sisters of the Holy Faith to live and minister in and with the community of Greystones. Another cause for rejoicing is the warm ecumenical spirit which prevails nowadays in the area. Today, though the numbers of Holy Faith Sisters have dwindled and our age profile has increased, we take heart from the words of our Foundress, Margaret Alyward: ‘We can do but little and we do that little, trusting in the providence of God’.
Le Chéile Schools Trust
The Le Chéile Schools Trust office was established in September 2009, in St. Mary's, Donnybrook with 3 officers. It now comprises the schools of fourteen religious congregations one of which is St. Davids School, Greystones. The aim of the Trust is to carry on the legal, financial and inspirational role of trusteeship that has, up to now, been done by individual congregations. This is a significant development in Irish education as the Catholic Church and the individual religious congregations renew and reformulate their commitment to Irish education.
The main object of Le Chéile is the development of a vision of Catholic education and overseeing its implementation in the Schools, encouraging preservation of key aspects of the evangelical heritage of their founding Congregation and to facilitate the opening of new schools if and where the need arises and resources permit.
In the case of non-denominational schools, the aim is to promote the integration of human and spiritual values that permit Catholic values to develop.
The Congregations are currently responsible for 52 voluntary secondary schools and are trustees in 7 Community Schools.