For the first time in 71 years, St Bernard’s College in Lower Hutt took home the prestigious O’Shea Shield after besting 17 schools in Wellington and Palmerston North dioceses in the annual competition.
St Bernard’s director of curriculum David Sefton, who coordinated the event, said there was “pretty much non-stop celebration” the week after they won the competition.
“We waited a long time to be winners. It’s an elusive trophy to win,” he said.
Wellington Cardinal John Dew congratulated the school and the other winners. He was amazed by how well the students understood the Pope’s teachings in Amoris Laetitia and Laudato Si’.
The theme of the competition was “Living in Harmony with God’s Creation”.
The cardinal said it was a real honour to listen to the students.
“They had reflected deeply on the writings of Pope Francis,” he said in a statement on the archdiocese’s website.
“As they responded to the Holy Father’s reflection on St Paul’s Hymn to Love in First Corinthians they spoke about how they were trying to apply this to their lives today. This was so gratifying and edifying to all present,” he added.
Mr Sefton also congratulated the winners of individual events as he paid tribute “to the St Bernard’s students and our whole team and their coaches for all the hard work that led to St Bernard’s winning the competition for the first time since its inception in 1946”.
Mr Sefton said the boys started preparing for the competition mid-way through term one. The preparation became more intense in the last two weeks of term one with the contestants coming to a workshop during the school holidays.
“Our boys were as keen as they have ever been and our staff were particularly astute as to what skills the boys needed to have prior to entering,” he said.
The school hosted the competition, which took place on May 13-14. Mr Sefton said it was challenging to put on the event because a previous earthquake meant there was no town hall for Lower Hutt. Fortunately, sister school Sacred Heart College stepped up and offered their performing arts centre as an alternative venue.
The whole school was involved, he said, as students who were not competing helped in the running of the programme.
St Patrick’s College, Wellington won the Bishop Viard Memorial Trophy for Runner-Up.
Other winners were St Mary’s College (St Catherine’s Cup for the Best Negative Debating Team); St Catherine’s College (St Mary’s Cup for the Best Affirmative Debating Team); Sacred Heart Girls’ College New Plymouth and St Patrick’s College, Silverstream (Te Kaipānui i te Kupu Cup for Scripture reading in Te Reo Māori, Section A donated by Bishop Charles Drennan); Cullinane College and St Bernard’s College (Te Kaipānui i te Kupu Cup for Scripture reading in Te Reo Māori, Section B donated by Cardinal John Dew); Francis Douglas Memorial College (Hibernian Cup for Religious Questions Section A); St Patrick’s College Silverstream (The Mercy Cup for Religious Questions Section B); Sacred Heart Girls’ College New Plymouth (George Family Cup for Junior Prepared Speech Section A); Chanel College (Vaughan Family Cup for Junior Prepared Speech Section B); St Catherine’s College (Cardinal McKeefry Cup for Oratory Section A); Garin College (Bishop Cullinane Cup for Oratory Section B); St Mary’s College (Bishop Owen Snedden Memorial Cup for Drama); St Bernard’s College (The Society of Mary Cup for Drama); St Bernard’s College (The Catherine McAuley Cup for Scripture Reading Section A); St Patrick’s College Silverstream (St Peter Chanel Cup for Scripture Reading Section B); St Bernard’s College (Sacred Heart Lower Hutt Jubilee Cup for Impromptu Speaking Section A);and St Patrick’s College Wellington (The Silverstream Cup for Impromptu Speaking Section B). The Jubilee Plaque was awarded to St Catherine’s College as hosting school for 2018.