Cardinal stresses continuity at opening mass of new school.
Speaking at the opening Mass of St. David's Secondary School in Dalkeith this evening (14 November), Cardinal Keith Patrick O'Brien delivered the following address:
"On this occasion I think back some 40 years ago when my predecessor as Archbishop, Cardinal Gordon Joseph Gray, blessed and dedicated the buildings of the then new St David s Secondary School here in Dalkeith in 1967. Now for the first time, as Archbishop and as Cardinal, I am celebrating Mass in this new St David s Secondary School and dedicating your chapel.
One might ask just what has changed in those 40 years with regard to St David s Catholic Secondary School.
The principal change, of course, is that now St David s Catholic Secondary School shares a campus with Dalkeith High School and also with Saltersgate School. This arrangement was agreed by the Catholic Church and the local authority here in Midlothian to ensure the best possible education for all pupils of this area. For our Catholic pupils this means education in the same St David s Catholic Secondary School, while sharing certain facilities with Dalkeith High School “ the facilities having been agreed to by the local authority and the schools themselves, following guidelines of the Catholic Church and consultation with head teachers, staff and school boards of the respective schools.
As you may know, these shared resources, which would have been unavailable to a single school, include office accommodation, library, dining facilities and quite magnificent sport facilities.
In this Archdiocese we have had shared campus arrangements for some 30 years and have gained a wealth of experience. Previous experience has only extended to primary schools “ now, however, this is a shared campus school involving a Catholic Secondary School. Experience here on this site will, I know, be closely watched throughout our country. Parents and pupils, members of staff and our Church will watch to see just how everything works out. All will be concerned at how growing pains are dealt with and especially how promises made before the building came into being are observed, now that the schools are fully operational.
All interested in the shared campus arrangements here in Dalkeith will realise that there have indeed been some growing pains. I wish it to be known that as the local Archbishop and as Cardinal, I am open to ongoing discussions along with our Director of the Scottish Catholic Education Service, Mr Michael McGrath, and with the local Council, as well as, of course, members of staff and parents as to the best way ahead if there are any disputes. One must say that this situation here in Dalkeith is really a test case on which much will depend in the years which lie ahead regarding the best education for our children. And, of course, the Catholic Church, having the best interests of pupils at heart, and following the wishes of our parents, is determined to continue to have the highest possible
standards in our Catholic Schools, of which St David s is one of which we are intensely proud.
I stress that one thing has not changed in those intervening 40 years, namely it is the same St David s Catholic Secondary School. In his sermon this evening, your former pupil, Father Allan Chambers, has stressed that the identity and the ethos of St David s Catholic Secondary School continues here in this building. At the last Mass in the old building of St David s I handed over to your Head Teacher, Mrs Docherty, the last of my purple skullcaps as an Archbishop. I promised that after I was created a Cardinal by Pope John Paul II, I would return here to St David s to hand on to Mrs Docherty one of the first of my red Cardinal s skullcaps. This I now do! This might seem a small insignificant and unimportant act. But for me and for I hope each of you connected with St David s Secondary School, it indicates continuity. It is a visible sign that St David s Catholic Secondary School continues here in this building on this shared campus. As Archbishop and now as Cardinal, I am proud of this school. I want its pupils to continue to maintain the highest standards of achievement in every field. And I am proud of the way in which it will be, I am sure, a flagship for our Catholic Secondary Schools in the future.
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