Glenstal Abbey School forms an integral part of the wider community associated with the Benedictine monastery at Glenstal. Staff, students and parents share in much of the life of the community. Many monks work in the school and join the boys for prayer. The school joins the monastic community for the most important event of the week, the Sunday Eucharist. With these fundamental ties the school reflects the values of the Benedictine tradition: the search for God in the company of others, guided by the Rule of St Benedict, under the care of an Abbot.
We believe that the role of the modern Catholic school in the provision of Religious Education is crucial to the development of the young people entrusted to its care. We aim to ensure that Religious Education is not simply an academic subject making up a proportion of the taught curriculum. It should also provide a theological, philosophical and moral encounter with life itself. We also believe that the spiritual atmosphere that pervades the monastery, and which is available in some measure to the students, is unique in Ireland.
Through Religious Education, students should learn to appreciate that life has religious, spiritual and moral dimensions. The Religious Education programme develops their awareness, understanding, knowledge and appreciation of the key Christian teachings about God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit; about Jesus Christ, and about the Bible. We seek to develop students’ ability to interpret and relate the Bible to personal life and current affairs. We aim to impart knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the growth of Christianity; of its worship, prayer and religious language; and a growing awareness of the meaning of belonging to a Christian tradition.
Three monks – Fr Denis Hooper, Fr William Fennelly and Br Colmán Ó Clabaigh – are chaplains to the school community. Their role is to support the spiritual and religious life of the school and to provide pastoral care to students, staff and their families.
The chaplaincy office is located next to the school’s chapel – ‘Sacro Speco’ – named after the cave where Saint Benedict began his monastic life in Subiaco, Italy. This is a place of prayer and reflection where guided prayer takes place every day and Mass is celebrated weekly.
The chaplains work to encourage a harmonious school environment and look after the faith formation of students through the organising of daily assemblies, annual retreats, sacramental preparation, opportunities for social action and supporting the RE curriculum.
Fr Denis, Fr William and Br Colmán also try to offer encouragement, support and accompaniment to members of the school community and are available to talk with students, parents and staff alike.