Birthdays are markers of life’s journey.

This year we celebrate 65 years as a College. Just like we celebrate our birthdays it is important that we mark our College milestones.

For 65 years Clonard has been a place where nearly 7000 young women have been welcomed and educated. Many of you will be reading this blog today. Never in that time have we stood still. Every decade has seen the community look forward with hope as to how we can best create a space that continues the dream for this place.

In this year of wonder, we are reminded of how important it is to create, to dream and to imagine. This is the desire of God. Everything we feel, think, and do, for the good of ourselves and others, even in the smallest thing expresses and unfolds the dream of God.

After Jesus the very first Christians knew the importance of coming together in community to nurture each other as they set about living their lives in the fullness of the promise of Jesus. They would gather in each other’s homes.

In the expression of the Christian story that has shaped our College, St Brigid, Nano Nagle and Daniel Delany were all people of imagination fuelled by a love of God and love of others and a desire to live their lives to the fullest. They knew that in the expression of their faith through providing a place of welcome, prayer, hospitality, learning and of community they needed to build a space where this could happen. Each was a person of courage and vision as they fulfilled this dream despite the challenges of the times in which they lived.

So as we celebrate our 65th year it is with gratitude we look back over what has already been achieved and with joy that we announce our new Master Plan. In the first week of this term, students attended a brief presentation on the Master Plan. For students and staff we have also provided a static presentation of these visuals in the foyer of the Brigidine Centre.

The Trustees of Kildare Ministries have approved the College’s Master Plan and the financial modelling for undertaking the first three stages over the next 10 years. The core values underpinning the conceptual design of the master plan was to ensure we created a space that was welcoming, inclusive and empowering, whilst engendering hope and community. We have partnered with CHT Architects who have undertaken a comprehensive analysis of our site and synthesized the feedback from students, staff and families collected in surveys last year. A Project Control Group, including membership from our Stewardship Council, was formed to oversee the process. Our architects have facilitated a number of sessions with the PCG, staff and parent sessions earlier this year which provided the opportunity to clarify and refine the plan. Whilst the overall plan has 5 conceptual stages, we are focusing on the first three in the next 10 years which will include:

Stage 1: A new building to house Science and Technology learning, collaborative spaces and general learning areas both indoor and outdoor on the west boundary of Tullow grounds.

Stage 2: A redevelopment of the Tullow Hall precinct to expand its current capacity and include learning areas for the Performing Arts including Music and Dance.

Stage 3: A redevelopment of Tressider Hall space to create a welcome and outward-facing administration area facing Church St as well as further learning areas to complement the first floor of the Brigidine Centre.

With the exemplary stewardship of our resources, the College is able to move forward with developing the schematic designs for Stage 1. As we know with all good plans, they are dynamic and shift and change as we progress through bringing them to life. This will no doubt be the same with our next three stages. We are confident with the overall layout of the vision of the masterplan and how it will bring our site together and retain what we love most about our College. It is an exciting chapter in our story and one that we look forward to sharing with you as we progress through the project. I would like to acknowledge in particular the work of Helen Wood, Business Manager and Dean Williams, Assistant Principal who have played a key role in the process. Access to the Master Plans will be available on our website from next week. Look out for the link.

We ask for God’s blessing on this work and all those who are involved.

Loving God, you willed all that exists into being

You loved your creation so much that you brought your own son to be a part of the cosmic story.

May we always be attentive to your divine imagination at work in our lives.

The lives of St Brigid, Bishop Daniel Delany and Nano Nagle are an inspiration for us to bring your dream for justice, compassion and fullness of life into existence through the power of education.

We give thanks for those who have continued their legacy in the last 65 years of our College and its development – the Brigidine Sisters, principals, staff, students and families.

We ask your grace on our vision and dreams for the next 10 years, that we might continue in your name, building an inclusive community that empowers young people through the gift of education to go out in hope.

Amen