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Benedictine educators meet in Brazil

The Benedictine Educators Network (BenET) is an international symposium dedicated to sharing knowledge and understanding between teachers from Benedictine schools. A meeting of the network recently took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and was attended by Fr Denis Hooper who is a former headmaster of Glenstal Abbey School and a founding member of BenET.

Fr Denis has worked in the Abbey School as chaplain over the past number of years, in addition to giving support to the school’s sport and extra-curricular activities.

More than 150 representatives of Benedictine schools from all over the world attended the meeting held between 11th and 15th October at Collegio Sao Bento, a Benedictine school established in 1858 and one of the oldest and most important educational institutions in Brazil.

The theme of the gathering was “What we have received, we pass on to you: our past and future in the now of Benedictine Education” with opening remarks delivered by Abbot Primate Gregory Polan OSB. Over the following days, participants listened to a series of addresses by Benedictine educators and students, and participated in various workshops and sessions of Lectio Divina.

Workshops covered topics including youth leadership in light of the Rule of Saint Benedict; formation for governance; the Benedictine ethos in education; pastoral approaches using a Benedictine spirituality with students; the Benedictine understanding of stability and academic leadership in times of disruption and crisis; plus the various challenges to education around the globe.

Fr Denis displayed a video presentation about Glenstal Abbey School and talked about the involvement of the monastic community in the life of the school, particularly in the areas of chaplaincy, the choir, sports activities, charitable projects in Africa, and so on.

Regional breakout meetings took place, which allowed representatives from Benedictine schools in Europe to make connections with one another, share their experiences and exchange best practice. Glenstal Abbey School is well-recognised and respected by other Benedictine schools, and it is hoped the School can play a greater role in the network’s activities in the years ahead.

Fr Denis commented: “We should be conscious of our role as guardians of an educational traditional which stretches back nearly 1,500 years, where our schools are as much about all-round personal and spiritual formation as they are about simply academic education.

In our ‘School of the Lord’s Service’ the Benedictine charism touches not only our engagements in the classroom, but also on the games fields, in the refectories, and all around the school.

This charism of prayer, work, study and hospitality is a treasure which we want to safeguard and pass onto our students at Glenstal and at each Benedictine school around the world.

Not only were the conference sessions very informative, but the opportunities for interactions with other participants – particularly over copious amounts of coffee – raised some very interesting ideas and areas for future collaboration, particularly in the run-up to the next meeting of the network in Austria in 2027.”


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Ravens Fly Together in Dublin

A hallmark of Benedictine life is the strong sense of community which binds the monks together on their search for God in the monastery. Glenstal Abbey School also places a high value on this practice of community life, considering the students and their families, the monks and their school colleagues all constituting one community in a ‘School of the Lord’s Service’ (RB Prologue).

Indeed, the sports department’s motto – ‘Ravens Fly Together’ – reminds us that not only do Glenstal students stick together in their various pursuits whilst in the school, but they also maintain strong connections to one another and to the Abbey and School long after they have finished studying at Glenstal.

One such example of this sticking together were two gatherings which took place in Dublin for students who have left the School in recent years. These gatherings are a way to get to know one another better, to build a network of support with each other and to maintain a connection to Glenstal.

Fr Luke Macnamara OSB and Mr Kieran Sparling organised two gatherings for the 50-something Old Boys who are studying in the Dublin area.

The first gathering took place on 10th October at Trinity College for students of Glenstal Abbey School between 2018-23. After a brief prayer service led by Fr Luke, the group enjoyed a fraternal meal and catch-up in a nearby restaurant.

Later, on 17th October, students at University College Dublin met with Edward Burke (Old Boy class of 2000) who is now serving there as Assistant Professor in the History of Warfare since 1945. The group gathered in St Stephen’s Oratory for a word of welcome by Fr Brendan Ludlow, a chaplain at UCD and a regular visitor to Glenstal. After a period of prayer with Fr Luke, Edward introduced himself and welcomed the recently-arrived students to UCD. The group then enjoyed an evening of pizza in the Blasta food hall of the university.

It is hoped that such gatherings will continue to be organised in the coming months so that networks of support and connection can be maintained and strengthened, and so that Old Boys of the School remember their connections to one another and to Glenstal. “Ravens Fly Together!”

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Bats at Glenstal

Monks, students and housemasters are not the only residents of Glenstal, as our five-hundred acres of forests, fields, farmlands, lakes and streams are home to a wide variety of wildlife.

Students of the Abbey School recently had the opportunity to learn more about the different bat species that inhabit Glenstal, particularly the rare lesser horseshoe bat which has recently been detected here.

Dr Kate McAney of the Vincent Wildlife Trust – a charity concerned with mammal conservation in Britain and Ireland – visited students and gave a presentation in the monastery library on the types of bats which might be found and the spaces which they inhabit.

After supper, the students went for a walk in the twilight in order to detect bats with Dr McAney, who has loaned to the School bat monitors for walks next Spring and bat detectors which will allow us to carry out long-term monitoring throughout the coming months for bats, particularly of the lesser horseshoe variety.

It is hoped these activities will help students to have a greater appreciation of and sensitivity towards their surroundings, and to help them recognise the contribution that each element of life makes towards the wider ecosystem at Glenstal.

“Because all creature are connected, each must be cherished with love and respect, for all of us as living creatures are dependent on each other.”

-Pope Francis, Laudato si’ 43

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Open Information Evening

You’re invited to one of our nationwide opening evenings taking place at locations across Ireland. You’ll hear from, and get to chat with, representatives from our staff, student, and monastic communities. Discover more about a wonderful Glenstal education and our full 7-day boarding offering…

Wednesday 8th November, 7.30-9pm at Talbot, Stillorgan, Dublin, A94 V6K5.

Thursday 9th November, 7.30-9pm at Ferrycarrig Hotel, Wexford, Y35 Y9TA.

Wednesday 15th November, 7.30-9pm at Old Ground Hotel, Ennis, V95 WDX2.

Thursday 16th November, 7.30-9pm at Knockranny House Hotel, Westport, F28 X340.

Africa Collaboration

2010 – A Final Return to St Benedicts’s Hanga

While at Hanga Abbey in 2009 it was noted that there was insufficient electricity to power the computers, which often crashed.  It was imperative to get more energy. 

Being the time of Cop 15 in Copenhagen those volunteering for Hanga rejected the proposal to try and raise funds for an electrical generator in favour of solar panels at twice the price!   This seemed foolhardy until a member of Solar Without Frontiers doing some contract work at Glenstal, offered to professionally install solar panels for no fee at Hanga if the panels were paid for.  Such an offer could not be refused and ‘Tan Team #2’ took up the challenge.

Due to the generosity of many the funds were collected.  The panel system would come from Germany with the generous help of Munsterswachak.  In July the ‘Tan team # 2’ spent three weeks at Hanga doing the regular IT classes etc.  The SWF team arrived later and hooked up the system. 

It is good to go for 25 years, we trust!   We are deeply grateful to them.


Africa Collaboration

2009 – The Second Visit to St Benedict’s School at Hanga Abbey

A second trip to Hanga was a very positive thing for all involved, both from Ireland, and from Tanzania.

Provision of a Satellite dish brought internet to the School for the first time.  This was a good use of funds.  But a big printer was a bad buy. We thought it would be good to have one in the school but paper proved to be hardly available at all, and there was not enough electricity!  It would have been better to take good advice.

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5th Year / TY Subject Stands

On Thursday 26th January we had a Subject Stands event in the Atrium.  Two students represented each subject available as a choice at Senior Cycle.Our TY students could visit each Subject Stand that they are interested in and ask the 5th Year representatives their questions/concerns/advice.This informal, peer to peer communication and discussion of the various subjects, was enjoyed and appreciated by all involved.

Africa Collaboration

2008 – The First Visit to Hanga

The first visit to Hanga was preceded by a major windfall. The Irish organisation Camara was looking for a reliable contact in Dar es Salaam which could provide a base for its work of distributing computers for educational purposes around the country.  The Benedictines of Hanga Abbey offered to help and Camara immediately donated 100 computers to four schools run by Hanga Abbey.  As a result, the four students of Glenstal, who comprised ‘Tanzania Team #1’, as well as a crew from Camara, were invited to Hanga Abbey to teach computer skills.  It was a win-win situation for everyone and we all worked together.

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Third Year Parent & Student Sunday Lunch

We were delighted to host the parents of our Third Years today for Mass in the Abbey Church followed by a Recital and Lunch together in the Barrington Suite.
Sun 15th Jan 2023

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Rugby Update – Senior Cup 2022

An extremely competitive Munster Schools Senior Cup game yesterday against CP Bheanntrai. 

A heartbreaking way to lose and we are very proud of the boys’ efforts. Full-time score: 23-19. 

Congratulations to the winners!


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