Divine Celebration on Challoner Day12th January 2022
Members of the Richard Challoner School community enjoyed their traditional emotive Mass at St George’s Cathedral in Southwark last week, to celebrate the school’s 62nd anniversary of opening.
The traditional “Challoner Day” is an intrinsic part of the school calendar and provides students and their parents, staff and friends of the school the opportunity to mark the birthday of the school’s founder, Bishop Richard Challoner with a powerful Mass in St George’s Cathedral. The Mass was celebrated by Fr Rob Esdaile, who was a student himself at Richard Challoner during the late 1960s. The poignant homily given by Fr Esdaile focussed on keeping faith, the basis of the Richard Challoner School logo.
The powerful music performed by fifty students and staff, was managed by the school’s Director of Music, Mr Neil Cannon. Moving musical pieces included the Gloria by Puccini and the Mass ended with the school’s ‘signature’ hymn, Non Nobis Domine by Roger Quilter. Fr Esdaile remarked in his sermon: “it is good to hear that the musical element of the Mass is as vibrant as ever”. This was despite all students and staff in the congregation wearing face masks throughout.
At the end of the Mass, the school’s Head Teacher, Mr Sean Maher, gave a moving and heartfelt talk thanking students and staff for their significant input into the celebratory Mass, as well as their impeccable behaviour and acceptance of adapted rules at the start of the new year.
Over 1,300 Challoner members travelled to central London to participate in the celebratory Mass, and the event was organised with meticulous attention to detail by Mr Neil D’Aguiar, the School Chaplain, who ensured that all students, irrespective of any additional difficulties, were adequately supported throughout the event by high levels of staff.
Reflecting on the special event, Mr Maher said: “They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder and that can rarely have been more true than for great occasions like the school’s celebration of the feast day of Bishop Challoner. To be able to gather again as a community in the presence of God in prayer and song was a truly inspirational and emotional occasion and one that will remain with those of us that were lucky enough to be there for a long time.”