THE ownership of eight Presentation Brothers’ schools has been taken over by a board of lay trustees. They include seven Cork schools.
Although the handover to the new Presentation Brothers Schools Trust (PBST) took place in September, the change was marked at a weekend Mass coinciding with the congregation’s feast day.
The order has only around 100 brothers in Ireland and many of them are retired, although falling vocations was not the only reason for the move.
PBST chief executive Paul Scanlan said, like many religious orders have done in recent years, they decided to hand the running and oversight of the schools to the laity.
The seven Cork schools now under the trusteeship of the new body, joined by Presentation College in Bray, Co Wicklow, include three city primary schools: St Joseph’s National School, Mardyke; Scoil Chríost Rí, Turner’s Cross, and Scoil Mhuire na nGrás, Greenmount. The four other secondary schools are Coláiste Muire in Cobh, Coláiste an Spioraid Naoimh in Bishopstown, Coláiste Chríost Rí in Capwell Road, Turner’s Cross, and Presentation Brothers’ College, Mardyke.
Between them, almost 4,000 students are taught by more than 300 staff at the schools. Mr Scanlan pointed out there have been no overnight changes as a result of the new trust.
“It was decided to keep the Presentation Brothers’ schools within their own trust, whereas some orders have joined together in handing over schools to new lay trusts. The boards of management, parents and teachers were anxious to maintain the Presentation ethos running through the schools and we will be overseeing that,” he said.
As well as taking over the legal ownership of the schools and their grounds, the trust will be offering training to boards of management and ensuring they are run correctly.
“If there is a need for a new school in any particular areas, we will also be open to being involved if the demand is there,” Mr Scanlan said.
The Mass last Saturday at St Joseph’s Church in Wilton was celebrated by Bishop Leo O’Reilly, chair of the Catholic Bishops’ Education Commission, and also attended by Bishop of Cork and Ross, Dr John Buckley, and Foreign Affairs Minister Micheál Martin, a past pupil of Scoil Chríost Rí and Coláiste Chríost Rí, which is marking its 50th anniversary this year.
Br Walter Hurley, leader of the Anglo-Irish Province of the Presentation Brothers expressed confidence that their lay colleagues will develop Catholic education in new and creative ways.
The members of the trust include High Court judge Justice Patrick McCarthy, UCC professor of microbiology Fergal O’Gara and Brian Crowley MEP.
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