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.
Fr. Denis Hooper OSB is the School Chaplain. His job is to support the spiritual and religious life of the school and to share in providing pastoral care to students, staff and parents alike. The Chaplain’s office is located next to the Health Centre.
The school Chapel is on the lower ground floor of the new school building. The Chapel is called the Sacro Speco (‘Sacred Cave’), after the cave of this name near Subiaco in Italy, where Saint Benedict encountered God as a young man at the beginning of his monastic life. The Blessed Sacrament is reserved in the tabernacle there as a pledge and guarantee of the real and abiding presence of Christ. This Chapel is available to all students and staff as a place of quietness and peace, prayer and reflection. Mass is celebrated there at least once a week, either at lunchtime or in the evening and other opportunities for shared or guided prayer are offered regularly.
The Chaplain is available to support and listen to any member of the school community about matters of concern, including accompanying students in relation to issues of personal faith development. He coordinates the daily whole-school Assembly and organises other faith-based activities in the school, highlighting the turning of the liturgical year and its relevance for the Christian community.