A year of celebrations to mark 150 years since the foundation of one of West Yorkshire’s most prestigious specialist schools have begun with a very special Bishop’s Mass. St John’s Catholic School for the Deaf in Boston Spa, near Wetherby, will throughout the academic year of 2019/20 hold a series of events to celebrate its foundation 150 years ago by Monsignor Desiree de Hearne, a Belgian priest.
After working with a family of deaf children in his parish and discovering how limited their educational opportunities were, he decided to found a school to meet their needs. The school was dedicated to St John of Beverley who became Bishop of Hexham and York.
Today the school supports children who are deaf, hearing impaired or who have multi-sensory and communication difficulties, including young people who have an autism spectrum condition. It offers both day and residential placements.
Pupils and staff at the school were delighted to welcome Bishop Marcus who acted as Principal Celebrant at the Anniversary Mass on the Feast of our Lady of Walsingham. Bishop Marcus was joined at the Mass of Celebration by 150 guests including Reverend David Arblaster, the Vice Chair of Governors at St John’s, who delivered the Homily.
He said: “Then as now, the school gained a national reputation for providing an education to support young people to achieve a happy and successful adult life. As a governor of the school for the last seven years I have witnessed the outstanding work being done by all the staff in teaching, guiding and supporting our pupils in developing all their talents to the full. I have seen the amazing changes that have come about as our young people develop their language and communication skills, and the confidence with which they leave this school as they take their place in the wider world.”
Prayers for the Faithful were read by students and staff of St John’s.
Headteacher at the school, Ann Bradbury, thanked the congregation, the families of pupils , her staff team and the Governors of the school and said: “We are immensely grateful that you are all able to celebrate with us the long and magnificent history of the school. Even now we are building on the legacy of Monsignor de Hearne who dedicated his life to the education of vulnerable children, which is such a key part of the mission of the Church. I would like to thank families, past and present, for sharing their children with us and allowing us to be such large parts of their children’s lives. To our students, who inspire us and make sure no two days are ever the same, I would like to tell them that they teach us far more than we could ever teach them. And finally to the staff team. I would like to thank you for your endless optimism and your relentless hard work to support our young people to flourish in their future lives.”
Bishop Marcus in turn thanked Mrs Bradbury and added: “It is only through good leadership that the school is the successful, caring environment.”
Throughout the year, St John’s will hold a number of celebrating events to mark its 150 Years Anniversary. The next will be the fundraising Christmas Fair to be held on Saturday 23 November at the school.