Notre Dame's Centenary Mass

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On Friday 8th February, all students and staff left school and travelled from school to the City Hall for our Centenary Mass. The date was chosen as it was close to 4th February, the date on which the Notre Dame order was founded in 1804. It was a good point to launch a year of celebration and thanksgiving for the 100 years that the Notre Dame community has been at our Oakbrook site and also the 50 years since the founder of the Notre Dame order, Julie Billiart, was declared a saint.

As everyone made their way from school, the bells of St John’s Ranmoor rang out, thanks to one of our premises team, Pete McCoy, who is a bell ringer. He organised a team to ring for us and it was a wonderfully thoughtful touch that set a special day off to a great start. At the other end of the journey, it was quite a sight to see all of our students arriving at the City Hall, along with many parents, former students, former members of staff, representatives from other Sheffield Catholic schools, Sisters of Notre Dame and representatives from other Notre Dame schools across the country. The City Hall looked wonderful, with the altar, the statue of St Julie and our orchestra and choir on the stage.

As the students and guests gathered, we were treated to performances from our Notre Dame dance team, songs from the student cast of ‘Hairspray’, music from the orchestra and readings about the life of St Julie.

We were delighted that Bishop Ralph celebrated mass for us, along with Fr Martin Trask, Fr Andrew Brown, Fr Shaun Smith and Fr Chris Posluszny. The mass was a truly joyful celebration and the orchestra, choir and readers did a wonderful job helping to lead us all. There was a really prayerful atmosphere throughout and we finished with a very rousing version of the school song!

Fr Andrew, in his homily, talked about the family of Notre Dame and a number of people have commented to me that this was really what it felt like during mass. Although there were nearly 2000 people filling the City Hall, it had a feeling of closeness and community.

I was deeply proud of the students and grateful to the staff who made the mass a really joyful and prayerful occasion. I would like to say thank you to all our students and staff, personally and on behalf of the many guests who were there. We marked 100 years of Notre Dame at Oakbrook and 50 years since St Julie was made a saint by reflecting our school at its very best.

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