SIX hundred primary and secondary school students from the Dundalk area joined forces for the first time for Seinn 2012 as part of Catholic Schools Week.
According to one of the organisers, Muirne O’Hanlon-Lawlor, there was “a palpable air of excitement” in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dundalk on Tuesday, January 31.
“It’s not often you might see 600 students give up their lunch break for a prayer service, but this was a prayer service with a difference,” she said.
Giant screens displaying words and photos, a packed church, teachers and students clapping and singing together, created a ‘Glee-like’ atmosphere for the event.
Seinn 2012 was a ‘songs of praise’ type of service. The other organisers included Fr Paddy Rushe and Vicar Foraine for the Dundalk Pastoral Area.
In the lead up to Seinn 2012, they posted regular up-dates of the rehearsals on YouTube and Facebook.
Ms Lawlor, a teacher in St Joseph’s National School, Muirhevnamor said: “ I know from many years working with my own school choir, what an uplifting and joyful experience it is to sing as part of a large group.
“At a time when we are surrounded and besieged by much negativity and cynicism, a group of local teachers felt it would be worthwhile to spread a little joy and encourage a sense of a Faith Community among Catholic schools in the area.”
Ms Lawlor and Fr Rushe were assisted by Mary Mullen (Friary Girls School), Áine Quinn (Gaelscoil Dhún Dealgan) and Brendan McCourt (St Patrick’s Cathedral organist).
Catholic schools, both primary and secondary, in the Dundalk Pastoral Area were contacted in September and received a rehearsal pack to assist them in preparing for the service.
The students were joined by Cardinal Seán Brady, Bishop Gerry Clifford, Monsignor James Cassin (Executive Secretary of the Council for Education, Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference), local clergy, representatives of School Management, teachers, parents and RTE for an hour of singing and heartfelt prayers.
Richard Dowling, North East Correspondent for RTE managed to get peak-time coverage of the event on both radio (Morning Ireland) and TV (News2day).
At the end of the event, all of the participating students were presented with a rubber wristband inscribed with “Seinn” as a memento. It is thought a similar event may be held next year.