After more than 10 years, the Bishop Lyons’ Shield is once again with St Thomas of Canterbury College, after three competition victories, and placings in two other events.
The 2023 competition was hosted by John Paul II College in Greymouth, on the second weekend of March.
The St Thomas director of religious studies, Stephen Kennedy, who co-managed the team with Yvonne Shields, said the competition was a chance to speak from the heart.
“Authentic Catholicism lies in relationships and experiences that allow us to live the Gospel message”, he said.
Mr Kennedy said that he and Mrs Shields led special activities for their team, starting with touching both the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea on the day of the competition.
“It was a time to reflect on our journey of preparation, and on the brothers who had left STC before us, and those who never got a Bishop Lyons tournament. Any victories this weekend would be for them too”, he said. “We also remembered the previous students and amazing staff who had led campaigns in the past, especially the recently retired Mrs Maureen Gaffaney and Ms Margaret Guerin.”
The Impromptu speech winner was Jasmine Sare from Villa Maria College. In this event, students were given two minutes to write a speech, and then perform it before an audience.
Keegan Verster from St Thomas won the junior prepared speech. He wowed the crowd with his ideas, his energy and confidence.
Litala Fofoa, also from St Thomas, won the senior prepared speech.
“He spoke from the heart on behalf of many people on many different life journeys. The audience connected and some were moved to tears”, Mr Kennedy said.
Keegan and Litala were coached by STC old boy and public speaking teacher Daniel Fogarty.
The debating was won by the John Paul II College debating team, made up of Samantha Donaldson, Libby Boddy, and Jack Byrne.
The Te Reo Scripture reading competition was won by Lorenzo Noa Saiosi (St Bede’s College) and Mia Daly (Roncalli College).
It was a tight race between St Thomas of Canterbury College and St Bede’s College, but STC emerged as the over-all competition winner after they won the last event, which was the religious question category.
The STC team was led by Moni Avia (Year 13 Gospel spirituality leader and deputy college captain) with Seamus Gallagher and Afa Apulu.
“The diversity of the team was one of its greatest strengths, and the variety of abilities and skills made it a huge success”, Mr Fogarty said.
“Hopefully this year’s success will inspire more young students to put their hands up, as you never know how you can surprise yourself. People are terrified of giving speeches, but we told the young men that the best story you can share is your own“, he said.
In 1947, Bishop Patrick Lyons created a public speaking tournament for the colleges of the Christchurch diocese.
The tournament is now between the seven Catholic secondary colleges in the diocese. It involves six competitions: Debating, Prepared Speech, Impromptu Speech, Te Reo Scripture Reading and Religious Questions.