YEARS of hard work and dedication were rewarded at a conferring ceremony in St Patrick's College on Thursday, when Fr Thomas Fogarty, President of the College, presented forty graduates with their parchment scrolls in front of their families and invited dignitaries.
Ten Bachelor of Arts (Theology) Degrees were conferred, while 30 Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Education, Business Studies and Religious Studies were awarded to the newly qualified post primary teachers.
Prior to the Graduation Ceremony a Liturgy took place in the College Chapel, attended by over one hundred people and led by the students of the Colleges, with music provided by students from the Presentation Convent Secondary School, Thurles.
The degrees awarded are validated by the Higher Education and Training Awards Council, represented on the day by HETAC Chairperson Professor Samus Smyth.
Professor Smyth said HETAC conducts periodic reviews of courses under its watch, and that the Degrees being conferred met with the highest of standards. One of the graduates, Amanda Bradley rom Graiguecullen, Co. Carlow , was honoured with the HETAC Student of the Year Award.
President of St Patrick's College, Fr. Thomas Fogarty, said education was not simply an interaction between student and lecturer, but involved the wider community. "I hope the Theology students here will contribute to the Church in Ireland. It's now time to go forth and share your faith with others." The teachers graduating were joining a long list of educators who had gone out into the world from the College, added Fr. Fogarty. During the course of an average teacher's career, he or she will touch the lives of about half a million people. "Remember, your students' futures are in your hands." With changing attitudes, respect in today's classrooms isn't guaranteed but has to be earned over a long period of time. Fr. Fogarty called on the graduates to encourage students to think for themselves, and quoted St. John Chrysoston who once wrote "I hold with certainty that no painter, no sculptor, nor any other artist does such excellent work as the one who moulds the minds of young people".
Conferred with the Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Theology were: Maureen Ahern, Oliver Corbett, Evelyn Veronica Graham, Vincent Howard, Breda Manton, Martin Rigg, Maura Ryan, Mary Ryan, Anthony Shanahan, and Sandra Withero Kenny.
Those graduating with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Education, Business Studies and Religious Studies were; Amanda Bradley, Alison Brosnan, Michael Burns, Finola Casey, Edell Crean, Olivia Doherty, Teresa Egan, Edward Fanning, Glenn Gibbons, Olivia Giltenane, Thomas Gleeson, Elaine Hart, Siobhan Hogan, Lisa Hogan, Richelle Hurley, Amanda Hynes, Andrew Kearns, Denis Keating, Thomas Lanphier, Emer Long, Julie Mackey, Jennifer McCormack, Deirdre Moore, Brian O'Donoghue, William O'Dwyer, Triona O'Riordan, Thomas Rohan, Niamh Russell, Sinead Ryan, and Rose Anne Webster.
Ms Diane Corkery, Head of Religious Studies Department presented the BA Theology Prize to Martin Rigg. Mr. Michael Ryan and Mr. Martin Fitzgerald, Education Department, presented the Teacher of Year award to Amanda Hynes.
Ms. Laoise N Cheallaigh, Head of the Irish Department presented the award for the highest overall academic achiever in Year 1 to Sinead O'Donovan.
Dr. Rebecca Purcell, Head of the Business Department presented the award for the highest overall academic achiever in Year 2 to Edward Dudley.
Mr. Shane Dempsey, Academic Coordinator, presented the award for the highest overall academic achiever in Year 3 to Claire Dineen.
Fr. Tom Fogarty, presented the award for the highest overall academic achiever in Year 4 to Amanda Bradley.
Ms. Paula Hourigan, Registrar of the College and Master of Ceremonies, Professor Tom Collins, Vice President for External Affairs and Dean of Teaching and Learning, NUI Maynooth, and Most Rev. Dermot Clifford, Archbishop of Cashel and Emly and Patron of the College also addressed the packed Assembly Hall.
During these difficult economic times, Professor Tom Collins recalled a phrase of Jack Lynch when his government took the brave decision to first introduce free secondary education in the 1960's.
"It's not that Ireland was too poor to invest in education, Lynch said. It was that Ireland was too poor not to invest in education," said Professor Collins.
With all the vast changes that have taken place in education over the past 40 years, such as the rise of the internet, computing, and mobile phones, today's graduates can look forward to similar wonders when they finally retire in 2049, concluded Professor Collins.
On Saturday next, November 28th , St. Patrick's College will have an Open Day from 11am. to 3pm. All are welcome to attend.