Pope Francis’ message relayed during St Columb’s College Christmas Carols service in Derry

A special message from the Pope Francis’ office to mark the 1,500th anniversary of the birth of St Columba was read out as St Columb’s College gathered for their annual Christmas Carol service at St Patrick’s Church, Pennyburn on Tuesday.

Wednesday, 15th December 2021, 2:07 pm

St Columb’s College, which is named after the patron saint of Derry, is this year and next hosting a series of special events to mark the anniversary of the Saint Columba.

Due to COVID restrictions, this year only representatives from classes within the school attended the carol service on Tuesday afternoon in person, while the other pupils watched the service via webcam at the school.

The service opened with the school’s choir and band performing the hymn ‘O Come, All Ye Faithful.

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St Columb’s College’s Choir pictured at the school’s annual carol service held in St Patrick’s Church, Pennyburn, on Tuesday afternoon last. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2150GS – 006

A special welcome was extended to representatives from local charities St Vincent dePaul, Foyle Search and Rescue and the Foyle Hospice.

The papal office letter was then read to the pupils, parents, board of governors, staff and invited guests by school chaplain Fr. James Devine.

He said: “The Holy Father conveys his blessing on all the staff, pupils and teachers and all those who celebrate St Columba’s 1500th anniversary. We hope today that St Columba will continue to inspire all of us and especially all of you pupils, staff and teachers at St Columb’s College.”

The letter to the Bishop of Derry, Dr Donal McKeown sent by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Secretary of State of the Holy See was then read out, with the Pope stating that Donegal native St Columba’s “missionary zeal and pastoral fervour continues to echo throughout the lands of Ireland, Scotland and beyond.”

Father James Devine read a letter sent to the Most Reverend Dr Donal McKeown, Bishop of Derry, from Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Secretary of State of the Vatican, marking the Colmcille1500 celebrations during St Columb’s College ‘s annual carol service held in St Patrick’s Church, Pennyburn, on Tuesday afternoon last. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2150GS – 009

“As the Catholic faithful, together with our brothers and sisters of other Christian communities, mark this solemn occasion, His Holiness prays that it will lead to a deeper appreciation of the shared spiritual patrimony bequeathed by St Columba and inspire anew in our own day a commitment to holiness of life, the spread of the Gospel and the renewal of the fabric of society through Christ’s message of healing, reconciliation and hope.

“With these sentiments, the Holy Father commends all taking part in the anniversary celebrations to the protection and prayers of St Columba, and cordially imparts His Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of joy and peace in the Lord.”

During the service a poem entitled ‘The House of Christmas’ by G,K, Chesterton was read by pupils Corey Duddy, Eugene McCaul, Fintan Doherty, Matthew Colclough and Steven Coyle from class 8B.

Choir soloists then delivered renditions of The First Nowell and O Holy Night between and following the readings, while messages were also relayed by pupils in Irish and in Spanish.

Members of St Columb’s College Choir singing at the school’s annual carol service held in St Patrick’s Church, Pennyburn, on Tuesday afternoon last. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2150GS – 005

Following a rendition of Silent Night, a presentation was then made to the charities followed by a word of thanks from principal Finbar Madden. The service drew to a close with a final blessing and the choir’s rendition of Hark, The Herald Angels Sing.

Pupils from St Columb’s College pictured at the school’s annual carol service held in St Patrick’s Church, Pennyburn, on Tuesday afternoon last. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2150GS – 007
Members of St Columb’s College band performing during the school’s annual carol service held in St Patrick’s Church, Pennyburn, on Tuesday afternoon last. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2150GS – 008
Pupils from St Columb’s College pictured at the school’s annual carol service held in St Patrick’s Church, Pennyburn, on Tuesday afternoon last. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2150GS – 010
St Columb’s College ‘s annual carol service held in St Patrick’s Church on Tuesday afternoon last. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2150GS – 011