Chai Brady and Colm Fitzpatrick
Jesuit schools have welcomed a commitment to use proceeds from a multi-million euro land sale to help poor children and ensure the “survival” of the order’s mission.
With a price tag of €55m on the Jesuits’ Milltown Park campus in Dublin, school ethos and bursaries were highlighted as being “critical” for future investment.
“As Jesuit numbers continue to decline in the Irish Province the society is very clear that the survival of Jesuit education will depend on lay staff taking ownership of its educational mission,” said Brian Flannery, Education Delegate of the order.
“Critical to this will be their understanding and support for the principles of Jesuit education and its particular way of proceeding.”
He said that programmes of induction and formation will be “enhanced” and developed so lay staff can avail of it throughout their careers. “Some of the money from the sale of property in Milltown will provide a wonderful fillip in this regard.”
The land sale relates to 10.5 acres of the 18-acre site in Milltown Park, Ranelagh. According to a statement from the order, due to a “steep decline” in vocations and the aging profile of Ireland’s Jesuits, the upkeep of the site became “an increased financial burden”.
Secondary schools have embraced the plans to support their bursary programmes, which aim to increase “socio-economic diversity and multiculturalism”.
Martin Wallace, Assistant Principal of Clongowes Wood College in Kildare, said: “The Jesuit community has been very, very generous in supporting a bursary programme in the school and the intention is that some of the proceeds from the sale will go towards building an endowment fund to maintain the current bursary programme and in a sense, ensure its continuation into the future.”
Their bursary programme began in 2007, and now 10% of the college’s students come from disadvantaged backgrounds. “We have 100% progression to third level among our bursary students which is fantastic, given the fact that very often they’re coming from communities where progression to third level is almost unheard of,” he added.
A spokesperson for Gonzaga College said: “Core to that ethos is educating young people to be ‘men and women for and with others’. Gonzaga has a longstanding collaborative relationship with habitat for humanity where the boys and teachers spend two weeks of their Easter holiday involved in the construction of homes and medical centres in the Middle East and Africa.”
There are currently no Jesuits directly teaching, however there are still 12 engaged in six of the schools, with two of those being principals.
In addition funds will be assigned for the care of elderly Jesuits, oversea missions and social justice projects including social housing and homelessness.