Post-Primary Diocesan Adviser R.E. News 

September 2020 / Meán Fómhair 2020

Dear R.E Teacher/Chaplain,

I hope that each of you are keeping well and settling into the new routines which we find ourselves navigating within.  As I dropped off my own daughter to secondary school this morning, I witnessed many of the pupils in her school anxiously masking up and making their way in through various entrances.  I have no doubt, even though you are back a week now, this new regime brings it’s own anxieties to you too as you attempt to communicate, teach, reach and support our mask wearing young people.  However, I have no doubt, before long we will stop seeing the mask and begin to once again see the young person behind it.   

Within the Diocese of Ferns, we too, are adapting to the changes in our work practices. We are trying to find best practice for staying in touch with schools and supporting teachers as well as supporting our John Paul II Award Participants in whatever way possible. I will be in contact with the participating schools to discuss award ceremonies this year.

However,  within this restrictive space, and with the Bishop’s blessing, I am in the process of putting together a Strategic Planning Committee.  The role of this Committee will be to support and enable the Way Forward, a three year plan for this office in support of Schools and Parishes.  The three year plan will focus on the following:

  • A Recruitment Campaign for voluntary Youth Ministers throughout our Diocese.  These Youth Ministers with be the link between Schools and Parishes and enable future projects to take place more effectively and efficiently.  We aim to have over 100 volunteers in place by 2022, all of whom will be resourced, supported and trained by this office.  They will be the support system for Diocesan projects and liturgical events, linking both school and parish.
  • Development and enhancement of the John Paul II Awards for participants.
  • Development of School Retreat Programmes based within the Diocese of Ferns in a number of locations.
  • Professional development of key school and parish initiatives e.g. Exam Prayer Project, Library Supply Project, Annual fundraising initiatives within schools, Prayer Room/Space projects.
  • Development of key liturgical events.

I will continue to provide resources linked to important dates from international justice, peace and environmental calendars as well as important dates/feast days from the liturgical calendar in the hope that they will continue to be of some help, you will be able to find access to this on the Diocese of Ferns Website.  I will also maintain the Facebook Page as another access point for these resources.  

The Annual Inter-Diocesan Conference which normally takes place in October has been deferred to April of 2021.  I will send you on details of same by email.  I hope also to arrange an Inservice within our own Diocese with the aim of providing support to the Religion Teacher and Chaplain.  We hope to facilitate same in Our Lady’s Island and although

 we are currently arranging same a date has not been set until the current restrictions lift.

I will be sending out the usual School Profile Form by email and I would be so grateful if you could fill it in and return to me as soon as you can so that I can keep you up to date of developments.  I am here to support you in your role and if you have any ideas, or suggestions or requirements please do not hesitate to contact me on 053-9145511 or on

May God bless you, your students and your work.

Colette O’Doherty

Director of Religious Education & Youth Ministry



Post-Primary Diocesan Adviser

May 2020/Bealtaine 2020

Dear R.E Teacher/Chaplain,

I hope that you are all keeping well.  We are heading now towards the end of the school year in a very different way than we could ever have imagined.  Since Easter I have taken the time to ring as many of you as I have numbers for.  In those conversations, I have found that each of you have found this time a challenge and each of you have taken on that challenge and are working to the best of your ability and circumstances.  I hope also that each of you are finding time to breathe a little within the space that we find ourselves.

During the last few months also, I have been in contact with my colleagues throughout Ireland and the situation amongst all Religion Teachers is a variety of the same, same challenges, same uncertainties.  But there is one thing that is constant and that is God.  Within this space a lot of our young people are beginning to question where God is in all of this, and indeed many of our adults are doing the same. 

The Iona Institute, discovered through Amarach Research that one in five people are praying more often. Curiously, 24 per cent of 18- to 24-year-olds say they are praying more than usual, the same number as over 55s. The middle generation is the one which was most affected by the scandals and the number is far lower.  But that younger generation is also the one which spends the most time online. Perhaps the online and the real-world experience should not be seen in opposition to each other, but as complementary and valuable. (Breda O’Brien; Irish Times :

At a time when control of our lives has been taken out of our hands, it is a relief to know that we can turn to God in hope.  Pope Francis reminds us that “All of us can live but we cannot live without Hope.” And in this month of May Pope Francis has turned to Our Lady as a sign of hope. Pope Francis’ Prayer to Mary during the coronavirus pandemic calls out to Mary as a sign of our hope and salvation:

O Mary,
you always shine on our path
as a sign of salvation and of hope.
We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick,
who at the cross took part in Jesus’ pain, keeping your faith firm.
Under your protection, we seek refuge, Holy Mother of God. Do not disdain the entreaties of we who are in trial, but deliver us from every danger, O glorious and blessed Virgin.

Although school and class times are very different for each of us, I will continue to offer resources linked to important dates from international justice, peace and environmental calendars as well as important dates/feast days from the liturgical calendar in the hope that they will continue to be of some help. As May is traditionally the month for graduation there are a variety of further resources on graduation available on the Dublin Diocesan website:

The School Chaplains’ Association have a number of lovely ideas for graduation which can be found in their April newsletter. Contact them on: 

I am sure some of you will find ways to involve your students in ceremonies to mark the ending of their school year.  

I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to all who welcomed me into your schools, and invited me to various events through-out the year.  I would also like to thank the John Paul II teams and teachers for their continued work and as they witness to their faith in our school communities.  I look forward to the time when we can award our wonderful JPII participants with their medals and certificates.  

I hope that we will return to some normality in the new academic year, and look forward to continued collaboration as we work together to promote the faith of the young people in our care.

I would like to acknowledge Lily Barry who is Diocesan Advisor in the Dublin Dioce  se who has generously allowed me to share her resources with you all.

God bless you all and the work that you are doing and although the academic year is almost to a close, do not hesitate to contact me at any time over the next few months.  I look forward in the new academic year to be available to visit your schools regarding the Spirit youth group, JPII Awards, Retreats and Pilgrimages and/or indeed in talking to your students parents in relation to Handing on the Faith.

I look forward also to meeting you all again when possible for inservices that will both support and resource you in the job that you are doing.

God bless you all.

Colette O’Doherty

Post-Primary Diocesan Adviser


Post-Primary Diocesan Adviser R.E. News

April 2020/Aibreán 2020

Dear R.E Teacher/Chaplain,

I am writing this month’s blog in very different circumstances. I do realise that a lot of the resources for day to day class time may not be of use to everyone at this time. I am also aware that many of us have been saturated with resources from a wide range of media forms in these past few weeks.

However, I have listened to my Diocesan Advisor Colleagues and am upload resources for April. I will include a selection of resources linked to important dates from international justice, peace and environmental calendars as well as important dates/feast days from the liturgical calendar. There is also a variety of further resources on this website  under classroom and general resources and on the Facebook shared space I have created for RE Teachers and Chaplains from the Diocese of Ferns, if you would like to join that space please email me on and I will send you a link.  

Recently, Pope Francis delivered an extraordinary blessing “To the City and to the World” to pray for an end to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. In his meditation, the Pope reflects on Jesus’ words to His disciples: “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith? In his special Urbi et Orbi he reminded us that God is “calling on us to seize this time of trial as a time of choosing,.. a time to choose what matters and what passes away, a time to separate what is necessary from what is not”. He concluded this extraordinary blessing with this beautiful prayer:

 Lord, may you bless the world, give health to our bodies and comfort our hearts. You ask us not to be afraid. Yet our faith is weak and we are fearful. But you, Lord, will not leave us at the mercy of the storm. Tell us again: ‘Do not be afraid’ (Mt 28:5). And we, together with Peter, ‘cast all our anxieties onto you, for you care about us’ (cf. 1Pet 5:7).”

The full version of Pope Francis’s message is available on:

If there is any way I can help/assist you in these very challenging times, please feel free to contact me at 

Stay strong, stay safe and keep your faith. I leave you with the words of Pope Francis:

“We need to rediscover the concreteness of small things, the small acts of kindness shown to those who are close to us, family, friends. We need to realise that our treasure lies in small things.”

Le gach dea-ghuí,   

Colette O’Doherty 

Diocesan Adviser.       

(Thanks to Lily Barry Diocesan Advisor in the Archdiocese of Dublin who has provided me with the bulk of these resources from her monthly blog.) 


Post-Primary Diocesan Adviser R.E. News

March 2020/Márta 2020


Dear R.E Teacher/Chaplain,

This month continues with a calendar of events for March with a selection of resources linked to important dates from international justice, peace and environmental calendars as well as important dates/feast days from religious calendars. As Lent has already begun, I have included a number of resources to help guide your students throughout the season in preparation for Easter.

Pope Francis’ Lenten message for LENT 2020 is “We implore you on behalf of Christ,  be reconciled to God” (2 Cor 5:20). He reminds us that: “This year the Lord grants us, once again, a favourable time to prepare to celebrate with renewed hearts the great mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus, the cornerstone of our personal and communal Christian life.  We must continually return to this mystery in mind and heart, for it will continue to grow within us in the measure that we are open to its spiritual power and respond with freedom and generosity”.

I was delighted to have met many of you at our recent Fern’s Inservice which took place on Thursday the 27th of February last.  We had a capacity crowd with barely elbow room around the lunch table with the added treat of a tour of the St Peter’s Tower by our new Campus Manager Oliver Mahon.  We were delighted that the Bishop joined us for lunch and for his kind words in support of your role.  The day commenced with Tom Gunning providing us all with insight into the workings of the Soul Searcher’s series.  Tom also spoke to all about self-care within the role of R.E. Following this Noel Keating spoke to us of the difference between a guided meditation and silent meditation and finally Annette Evans got us all up out of our seats to create prayer spaces.  It was a wonderful day and I look forward to meeting you all and more at the next one.  For details of the day please press here.

The Bishop in his speech concluded with the following prayer of St Oscar Romero (assassinated while saying Mass in El Salvador in 1980).

‘It helps now and then to step back and take the long view. This is what we are about.  We plant seeds that one day will grow. We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.  We lay foundations that will need further development.  We cannot do everything and there is a sense of liberation in realising that.  This enables us to do something and to do it very well.  It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for God’s grace to enter and do the rest.  We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.  We are workers, not master builders, ministers not messiahs.  We are prophets of a future not our own.’ 

May God bless all that we do.

Colette O’Doherty; Director of Religious Education & Youth Ministry


Post-Primary Diocesan Adviser R.E. News 

February 2020


Dear R.E Teacher/Chaplain,

I hope that February finds you well as we start to notice a little extra brightness seeping into our evenings. I have uploaded for your information, a calendar of events for February with a selection of resources linked to important dates from international justice, peace and environmental calendars as well as important dates/feast days from religious calendars. 

We continue to promote Pope Francis’ monthly intentions which we encourage you to introduce and use with your students. We will continue to highlight the Holy Father’s request for prayers for a specific intention each month and invite you to answer the request and join with many people worldwide in praying for this intention each month. For February the Pope’s intention is Listen to the Migrants’ Cries: We pray that the cries of our migrant brothers and sisters, victims of criminal trafficking, may be heard and considered. For further resources see

I have been travelling the Diocese over the last few weeks and have spent valuable time with School Chaplains, RE Co-Ordinators and RE Teams discussing your support requirements.  I look forward to visiting the remaining schools at your convenience.  If you have not already booked a date please ring me on 087-9474513.

Many of you have booked into the upcoming Inservice taking place on Thursday the 27th of February next.  Details of same can be found here. If you have any suggestions for further inservices please do email me on

I have uploaded a couple of conferences that you may be interested in, namely ARISE and CARING FOR OUR COMMON HOME. If you or your school are interested in bringing a Green Team to Caring for our Common Home please contact me on 087-9474513.

Thank you all for your attention and God bless your work.

Colette O’Doherty; Director of Religious Education & Youth Ministry


Post-Primary Diocesan Adviser R.E. News

January 2020/ Eanáir 2020

Dear R.E. Teacher / Chaplain,

Welcome back after the Christmas break and a very Happy New Year to you all!! I hope you all had a restful holiday and are refreshed and ready to begin a new term! 

As you may be aware I have taken up the post of Director of Education & Youth Ministry in September 2019.  For the last few months, I have been busy familiarising myself with the role! I am grateful to all who have supported me over the last while, in particular Lily Barry the Dublin Diocesan Advisor who has been a mind of information.

I have also been organising the John Paul II Awards Night which took place in Cathedral on the 5th of December last.  It was a wonderful occasion with 53 students receiving their Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards and with the first ever Papal Cross Awards. Well done to all the schools involved.

Over the next few months, I am hoping to develop the Ferns Website to provide you with relevant and useful resources to support you in your role as RE Teacher and would be delighted to receive any contributions you may wish to share with fellow Chaplains and R.E. teachers or any suggestions for in-service /support days which the Diocese could provide.  Please see resources for January at here

I would like to draw your attention to Pope Francis’ monthly intentions which I encourage you to introduce and use with your students. For January the Pope’s intention is ‘Promotion of World Peace’: We pray that Christians, followers of other religions, and all people of goodwill may promote peace and justice in the world. For further resources see

I would also like to draw your attention to Catholic Schools Week which takes place from 26th January to the 2nd February 2020. This year the theme is ‘Living in Harmony With God’s Creation’. I have posted resources on the website Further details are also located within the January Resources Section

I have been actively visiting schools over the last few months both as Support Visit within the role of Diocesan Advisor and also in relation to the introduction of the John Paul II Awards and I look forward to continuing these visits.  

Finally, I am currently putting the finishing touches to the brochure on the upcoming In-service taking place in the Diocesan Pastoral Centre here in Wexford on Thursday the 27th of February next.  It is an exciting Inservice aimed at providing practical resources to you and your team.  If you are interested in attending please contact me to book you in.

That’s it for the moment.  Please see on the website the section on January Resources which I hope will be helpful to you. 

God bless your work!

Colette O’Doherty