The rain of autumn didn’t dampen the warm welcome given to Bishop Marcus at the service for the opening of the new peace garden at Notre Dame SFC, Leeds. With money donated by The Rhodes Trust the college has created a small, seated area in St Joseph’s Court to encourage students to participate in quiet moments of contemplation.
The service on the first day of October opened with the hymn Make me a Channel of your Peace sung in Spanish by the Head of Modern Foreign Languages, Chary González-Latham, and in English by upper sixth student Elizabeth Whitworth-Woodhead. Matthew Gerrard, the President of the Student Executive, led the welcome by thanking the Bishop for his commitment to post-16 Catholic education. Anna Ceuca, also a member of the Student Executive, read a poem written by our Oxbridge Co-ordinator Mrs Kitty Graham, which reflected the nature of Notre Dame. The Principal, Mrs Justine Barlow, read a passage from St Paul’s Letter to the Philippians that reflects on the peace of God, which passes all understanding.
In his homily, Bishop Marcus spoke about how peace gardens were once common in medieval England. The names of flowers reflect this. For example, ‘marigolds’ is derived from ‘Mary’s gold’, which is apt for a college named after Our Lady.
Lower sixth students Codie Bahar and Marina Costa read the prayers of intercession, praying for the College that it may grow in faith and encourage one another with words of hope. At the end of the service the staff choir, accompanied by the assembled staff and students, sang a hymn to Our Lady, Stella Maris, the ocean star.
Bishop Marcus blessed the garden, accompanied by the Principal and Dr James Hagerty, a trustee from The Rhodes Trust, together with Fr. Michael Hall, a governor of the College; and senior staff. All took note of the beautiful mural of a cross containing the word ‘peace’ in many different languages, and the benches that are made of recycled plastic saved from landfill. In the summer, more flowers will be planted to develop the beauty of the area.