Patron saint rediscovered


Students Lily Taylor and Christina Windisch enjoy St Dympna's Feast Day celebrations

​FOR a long time, feast day celebrations have been missing from St Dympna's Catholic Primary School at Aspley.

However, with COVID-19 restrictions and the cancellation of NAPLAN testing, the school was presented with the opportunity to rediscover the saint as their patron.

The original parish priest, who arrived in Brisbane directly from Ireland, named the parish, and subsequently the school, after a young Irish saint whose name was significant to him, but whose story was a difficult one to tell, especially to young children.

St Dympna was a martyr at the hands of her own father when still a t​eenager, as he went mad after the death of her mother.

She became the patron saint for the mentally ill but was barely recognised in Catholic calendars.

Unfortunately for the school her feast day also fell within NAPLAN week and this also made it easy for the school to overlook her special day.

Instead the school community focused on the Josephite Charism of the founders of the school and celebrated the feast day of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop.

St Dympna's Assistant Principal for Religious Education Tanya McNeill said when the school became part of BCE's dialogue project, which looked at Catholic Identity, staff participated in some rich formation.

Ms McNeill said as part of the process the school recontextualised St Dympna to become Patron of Wellbeing which then become a big focus within the school.

“This year, with no NAPLAN and some difficult times for families and the community, we felt it a great opportunity to celebrate for the first time in recent memory the feast day of St Dympna.

“Each Year level rotated around four fun spaces which included an outdoor activity, giant games and chalk drawing undercover, a technology/design challenge and a creative or craft activity.

“As part of the wellbeing theme, our students also made cards or wrote letters to elderly citizens or their carers at the request of staff members who had parents in care."

Ms McNeill said a highlight for everyone was a liturgy that was streamed live from the school's auditorium to all classrooms and later posted online for families to also access at home if undertaking Alternative Education Provisions (AEP).

“It turned out to be a great day which we hope to try to make an annual event," Ms McNeill said.

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