Every year we all agree that the Rite of Welcome is a most moving occasion for the whole school. It is a beautiful ceremony, unique to St Mary's School, which welcomes all new staff and pupils to our community. Newcomers have now settled into school life, and we all rejoice in welcoming them as being truly part of the family. The Rite of Welcome took place on 27th September 2013 in chapel, and began with a word of greeting from the Head, Mr James.
The ceremony is based on a beautiful liturgical service expressed through hymns and reflections. Centred on God's Word, each individual is greeted in love, prayer and friendship. Firstly, we are all invited to listen to pupils and staff giving their first impressions since arriving. The support and kindness at St Mary's are felt as each girl acknowledges the warm welcome received, and the help and guidance from her 'Guardian Angel', that is, the girl assigned to offer practical care. The new girls were both articulate and funny in giving their first impressions. They spoke of much kindness at St Mary's, the wonderful lunches, the long kilts, the school drive which can be daunting, but most of all, of their joy in belonging here. Miss McGirr, our new member of the Mathematics Department, spoke warmly on behalf of new staff.
An excellent address on joining St Mary's was delivered by Miss Radford, Director of Music, who last term celebrated forty years of work at the school! Her talk was amazingly good, anecdotal, humorous, informative and delivered with great joy! She spoke of her gratitude in belonging to a family where values are shared by all; she referred to the generosity of the nuns in the early days; she spoke of community as organic, rooted in faith; she underlined the dignity and uniqueness of each one.
The most moving part of this ceremony is when each new member is called by name and comes forward accompanied by their sponsor. They are welcomed, blest, and receive a rose, together with the school Prayer Book. With new names adorning the chapel walls, and big smiles all around, with beautiful organ tones of 'O Praise ye the Lord', we thanked God for our new members at St Mary's.
Miss Andrea (Chaplain)
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Mrs Charlotte Stephens
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