ON APRIL 21 St Anselm’s Catholic School in Canterbury celebrated the 900th anniversary of the death of St Anselm, the first Archbishop of Canterbury.
Fiona Quilty, headteacher, spoke of a “major spiritual event in the life of Canterbury and its community” and said: “For the first time in the history of the school, Canterbury Cathedral threw open its doors for our students so that we could celebrate his life and legacy together in this magnificent and holy place.
“The students responded reverently and joyfully in song to celebrate the life of this remarkable saint. The Mass was celebrated by Bishop John Hine and concelebrated with clergy from our local parishes.” The concelebrants included Canon Bunce from St Thomas’s church in Canterbury and other representatives of the Archdiocese of Southwark. Other local notable dignitaries included Judge Michael O’Sullivan who was also joined by the Sheriff of Canterbury, Charlotte MacCaul.
Ms Quilty added: “To hold such a meaningful service in such a prestigious heritage site was a humbling experience. To be able to share this event ecumenically meant a great deal to the governors, staff, parents and students of the school.
“Our faith and learning community was strengthened by this uplifting experience and we hope to develop an even stronger partnership with the Cathedral in this anniversary year.” St Anselm’s feast day was the first time in the history of St Anselm’s Catholic School that the whole community was present at a special Mass of this kind.
As well as Bishop Hine, the priests and religious who served the school and who attended the Mass included Fr Richard Hern, Fr James Sweeny, Fr Joe Feeley, Fr Peter Gelgart, Fr Kevin St Aubyn, Fr Stephen Wymer, Fr Owen, Deccan Homsey, Bro Laurence and Bro Antony Jukes.
Canon Michel Bunce, Head of School Governors, came, along with head of secondary schools Chris Atkins, head of St Edmands in Dover and school chaplain Jake Devine and Mother Nicola and nuns from Minster Abbey. The nuns support the school with basic maintenances – gardening, painting and ecorating. From St Anselm’s School also there were Louise Perry, school chaplain, Mike Walters, deputy head, all the school governors and the teaching staff.
Approximately 1,000 students, 80 staff and 20 priests who support the school (past and present) were in attendance. Celebrating the 900th anniversary as a school was the primary aim. The school does not have space to accommodate the population of the school, so the Dean of Canterbury Cathedral agreed to hold Mass there.