Bishop Leahy empathises with Leaving Cert students as they lose their ‘rite of passage’ moment
Sunday 17 May 2020: Bishop of Limerick Brendan Leahy has urged Leaving Cert students to stay positive and realise that this exam will not define them even if they feel their hard work is now for nothing.
Addressing students from his weekly COVID-19 statement, delivered at the end of today’s mass at St. John’s Cathedral, Bishop Leahy said that while, for the most part, students are glad a decision has been made, there is a fear in some that they are missing out.
Speaking a day before the centenary of the birth of Saint Pope John Paul II, Bishop Leahy reminded also that in his visit to Limerick, the then Pope reminded us that we have to make choices regarding what kind of a society we want and that the Coronavirus has also given us time to reflect on this.
Bishop Leahy said that on June 3rd, the day the Leaving Cert was due to start, at 7pm, Fr. Chris O’Donnell and Limerick Diocese Youth Ministry Co-Ordinator Aoife Walsh, together with some representatives of Leaving Cert students, will offer Leaving Cert students and their families an on-line liturgy of encouragement via webcam from St. John’s Cathedral. The event, which will be a reflective moment to mark the conclusion of second-level studies, will also be relayed on Facebook.
Commenting on the difficulties that students have been through as a result of the uncertainty around the Leaving Cert, Bishop Leahy that he is grateful to schools for the role they are playing in stepping into the breach.
“While for the most part, the students are glad a decision has been made and that the Leaving Cert has been cancelled, nevertheless there is a fear in some that they are missing out on that rite of passage and that their hard work has been for nothing, and their sense of achievement in some ways has been robbed of them.
“I heard one young person say, ‘an announcement was made as if this was nothing and yet it has been everything to us. It’s hard to believe that it’s all over, it’s just fizzled out’. The students had been so focused on study and now there’s just nothing. Indeed, not just nothing, young people are quite uncertain of their future.
“I am grateful to schools for doing whatever they can to mark in these coming weeks the fact of the conclusion of second-level education for many of these young men and women. It is good to do so,” he said.
But, he urged, students to try and understand that this is not the be-all and end-all.
“I would urge young people to understand that regardless of how this plays out, regardless of their feelings about the decision to postpone the Leaving Cert, it is important to realise that the Leaving Cert is not a definitive assessment of what lies ahead for them.
“Some of the most successful people in life did not have a good Leaving Cert outcome. It’s the steps immediately in front of you that matter now, not what happened yesterday.”
Looking ahead to the event on June 3rd, Bishop Leahy acknowledged that not having the usual graduation ceremonies and coming together with friends, teachers and family at the end of the year is a sacrifice for these young women and men.
“The annual graduation ceremony is a kind of rite of passage, a time to look back over the years in school, an occasion of memories and prizes, good fun banters and a few tears, presentations and flowers, speeches and farewells. It isn’t easy to miss out on this big moment and the other big moments that would normally follow for people their age in the coming weeks,” he added.