Bishop John Arnold led St Monica’s Primary School, Hoxton, in a Thanksgiving Mass on 27 January to mark the centenary of the death of the school’s founder, Fr Michael Kelly OSA. This Augustinian priest was the driving force behind the creation of the school in an area which was poverty-stricken when he arrived in the late nineteenth century
Bishop John reflected on Fr Michael as one who had done what he could with the gifts God gave him to build up the community in Hoxton, working tirelessly to lay the foundations for the school. He encouraged the children to learn from Fr Michael and to use their gifts and talents to serve God. Referring to the Holy Father’s recent Apostolic Exhortation, he told the children to become ‘missionary disciples to bring the love and care to Jesus to all those around us’.
Headteacher Violet Richardson reflected on the importance of the occasion:
“St. Monica’s Catholic Primary school and parish came together today to celebrate Mass in memory of Father Michael Kelly O.S.A. He worked tirelessly for the whole community of Hoxton, whatever their religion. However, one of his greatest achievements was in ensuring that St. Monica’s Catholic community got their own school, partly funded by the government. The school was one of the first voluntary aided schools in London and the building itself was a model for many others that came later. I am sure that Father Kelly would be proud to know that St. Monica’s Catholic School is still a thriving and successful community committed to welcoming and educating the children who arrive from many countries and now live in Hoxton.”
St Monica’s was founded in 1870 and is one of the oldest Catholic schools in London. As a single form of entry school, it has been in its current building since 1975 with a new nursery and reception added in 2005.