It was a mixture of joy and sadness as the extended Bellerive FCJ Catholic College community came together in July to give thanks for the outstanding service given to catholic education by Sister Brigid Halligan FCJ MSc OBE.
Sister Brigid announced her retirement during the academic year after 38 years of service to Bellerive, 24 of them as headteacher.
During her time as headteacher, the school has experienced significant growth and improvement, she leaves behind a very healthy legacy for the new headteacher, Mrs Niamh Howlett who joins Bellerive from St Anselm’s College.
Staff, students, governors and parents, past and present, joined in the celebration of Mass, led by Bishop Tom Williams, himself a former chaplain to Bellerive.
Among the concelebrants at the Mass were Canon Tony O’Brien, Canon Aidan Prescott and Fathers Des Seddon, Peter Morgan and James Preston.
Music was provided by the Bellerive school orchestra and the Year 7 choir who were supported by, cathedral organist, Mathew Searles.
The musical choices provided a fitting accompaniment to the occasion and the congregation was especially moved by the ‘FCJ Magnificat’.
Sister Brigid was joined by Sister Brid Liston FCJ, who is the FCJ provincial for Europe, as well as fellow sisters from the FCJ community across the country. Bellerive also welcomed Dame Lorna Muirhead, the Lord-Lieutenant of Merseyside.
In his homily, Bishop Williams paid a warm tribute to Sister Brigid’s many years of service and her determination to ensure the best possible experience for all students in her care.
He spoke with great fondness about his own long association with Bellerive dating back to 1973.
In paying tribute to Sister Brigid, Sister Brid Liston reminded Bellerive students past and present how blessed they were to have had her as their headteacher with her gentle but firm manner, which combined with her deep faith and commitment to excellence had ensured that Bellerive moved into the next stage of its history with great hope and, in the words of Marie Madeleine FCJ foundress, ‘great courage and confidence’.
Further tributes were paid during refreshments in the Piazza and a number of messages were shared including two from some of Sister Brigid’s favourite singers namely Daniel O’Donnell and Father Martin O’Hagan from the popular choral group ‘The Priests’.
In addressing the Bellerive staff following Mass, Sister Brigid offered her sincere thanks and appreciation to everyone who had helped her in her mission to build a school to be proud of.
She finished her remarks by reflecting that as she sat and observed the impeccable conduct of the students during the Mass, she felt that the mission she had embarked on in 1993 when she was appointed as headteacher had been accomplished.