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Developing the Whole Child

Mass of Thanksgiving and Dominican Concert for departing Principal Mr Gerry Lynch.


“Teach us to follow him and

 Show us his way”-

( Dominican Magnificat)

On Wednesday 26th June 2024 Dominican staff, past and present, governors and members of the Dominican Community joined Mr Lynch and his family for a special Mass of Thanksgiving, celebrated by Fr Kevin McGuckien and Fr Raymond McCullagh, to mark his retirement after 40 years of outstanding service and commitment to Dominican education in Portstewart. Also retiring this month are Mrs Joanne Lynch and Ms Rut Ni Mhaolain; collectively our three retirees have accumulated 96 years of service in Dominican College, Portstewart.


Welcoming guests who included Gerry’s mum, Mary, his brother Kevin and sisters as well as Joanne his wife and her mum Rita, her sister and her aunt and Uncle Eddie and Eileen.


Fr Kevin explained how it was a great privilege and honour to be celebrating this special occasion as Dominican chaplain alongside Fr. Raymond our previous Chaplain.


Fr Kevin reflected on how difficult, yet necessary it is in life to say goodbye to people and places that have shaped our lives. He told Gerry’s friends and family,


“We are here today to say goodbye. It is a good thing to do. We will leave here today with a joyful and grateful heart, a joy tinged with sadness”. We give thanks today for the wonderful faithful service Our first reading today reminds us there is a time to tear and a time to mend. Today we celebrate and honour our esteemed colleagues.

We show gratitude and admiration for their years of service and unwavering commitment to shaping the lives of countless pupils and we acknowledge the immense impact they have had on our college community and the future generations they will continue to shape in an indelible way.


The love of teaching for Gerry and Rut and Joanne has ignited a flame of curiosity fuelling their love and desire for knowledge, there was a time to plant and now there is a time to reap and sow and gather. Today we think of the ebb and flow of the seasons and the unique joys and challenges that Gerry and Joanne and Rut have experienced together as you sowed seeds of knowledge, planted seeds of inspiration and as you watered and nurtured those seeds. Now you enter a season of harvest.”


Fr. Kevin described how love was at the very centre of the Dominican educational experience. He spoke of how Gerry, Joanne and Rut had brought love to our Dominican school and how he would never be forgotten and forever loved by the school community.


“Our second reading today spoke of the power of love; it was certainly love which was the foundation of your collective teaching journeys; those moments where you each went beyond the call of duty with gentle words of wisdom which instilled confidence- those magical moments will never be forgotten and in months and years to come your pupils will come to revisit those moments.


As Dominicans you exemplified the values of this school: compassion, integrity, loyal service and the pursuit of truth. Today’s Gospel reminds us to be beacons of light and we reflect on God’s words that “I chose You”. Teaching is less a profession and more a divine calling and today we express our deepest gratitude for all that Gerry and Rut and Joanne have achieved – their presence has enriched us and the noble traditions of this college a place of growth and love and knowledge. Now as you prepare to take your leave, we wish you a joyful, restful and fulfilling retirement- may you find avenues to continue to make a positive difference to the fabric of our society. As we bid you farewell today, may we carry on your great legacy and continue to nurture a community striving for excellence in the unique Dominican ethos, your dedication, love and unwavering belief in the power of education. May God bless our three retirees abundantly.”


The second reading from Ecclesiastes 3 was, according to Fr Kevin “practically a job description for a Dominican principal with its descriptions of patience, kindness and goodness”.


“Gerry thank you for everything as principal that you have done for this college. My arrival as Dominican Chaplain two years ago coincided with your appointment as Principal and I have had the privilege of seeing first hand as a school governor your passion for this school. In our two years of work together I want to assure staff and pupils present here today that you always had their best interests at the heart of your decision making. You truly have been a wonderful principal.”


Before a final, stirring rendition of Dominican Magnificat, Fr Kevin thanked Deirdre Rainey for our beautiful and moving liturgy and the Dominican sisters, Brighdhe, Lucina and Geraldine Marie for their presence and praised the beautiful singing from our junior choir.


In the final reflection, Terry Cloughley read a short poem – “Blessing for Retirement” by John O’Donohue:


This is where your life has arrived,

After all the years of effort and toil;

Look back with graciousness and thanks

On all your great and quiet achievements


You stand on the shore of new invitation

To open your life to what is left undone;

Let your heart enjoy a different rhythm

When drawn to the wonder of other horizons.


Have the courage for a new approach to time;

Allow it to slow until you find freedom

To draw alongside the mystery you hold

And befriend your own beauty of soul.


Now is the time to enjoy your heart’s desire,

To live the dreams you’ve waited for,

To awaken the depths beyond your work

And enter into your infinite source.


Speaking after the Celebration Mass, Mr Lynch commented;


“My family have long known just how special Dominican College has been in my life and how much the school has meant to me for the past forty years. Many of them have never been here before and will take away with them today a realisation of just why this place means so much to me.



I want, today, to thank everyone in this hall and especially the Dominican staff after what has been a momentous year for us all. There is a really unique sense of community here and it is wonderful to share this beautiful Mass and Concert with you all.

I want particularly to thank all those who helped to plan and co-ordinate this special day today


As a school we are about the development of the whole child.   This is a wonderful school whose best days are yet to come and I could not have been more blessed in my work here.”

It is lovely today to be able to welcome back the Dominican sisters who sacrificed so much to leave a strong legacy in Portstewart – one that we have constantly sought to build on.


I look forward also to being invited back to occasions such as this and to as healthy and productive a retirement as they continue to enjoy.”


Speaking to staff for one final time, Gerry explained his strong feelings of family when he first joined the Dominican staff in 1984,


“When I first came to this school there were people living here within the Dominican community as sisters and boarders and I immediately felt a strong feeling of family and a very special sense of ethos. As I prepare to take my leave of the school 40 years later, I feel that sense of family even more strongly than ever. He urged staff to continue to maintain and develop the Dominican ethos.


Speaking on behalf of the Board of Governors, Mr John Reid said “ I have worked with many School Principals as a governor and what you have managed to achieve in your two short years as principal most did not manage in ten years.”


Mrs Heaney, Vice Principal, had these words for Gerry at a staff dinner in his honour:


“Family is always a priority with Gerry. Our Dominican family is almost as close to his heart as his own, and that’s saying something.


Gerry you will always, always have a home here in DCP. A family that will welcome you.


You have made such an outstanding contribution and difference to education: over 40 years remember the time we thought you’d been awarded an MBE!! And that you’d hidden that minor detail from us!


Well if we could give you a DCP MBE award for the service you have given Dominican Education over your 40 Years it would be for magnificant, brilliant educator. We can’t thank you enough and life will just not be the same in DCP.


Gerry Lynch this is your wonderful life and it has been a pleasure to work alongside you as VP. You believed in me, as you did for so many here.


It is lovely to take this opportunity tonight  to speak both personally and on behalf of all Dominican staff, past and present, about the enormous and lasting contribution that you  have made to this school over 40 years from your arrival here in 1984 as a teacher of Maths then ICT, Senior teacher, Governor, VP  to his departure in 2024 as our Principal for the past 2 years. I count my self honoured to have had Gerry as a friend, colleague and leader for all of my Dominican Life.


I will do my best to keep fighting the good fight as VP and to preserve what countless Dominican leaders have devoted careers to promoting: our ethos and what it is to be truly Dominican. Our staff are the greatest and I will do my best to look after things. We are all entering a new chapter and Gerry you will have moved on. You won’t be with us come September but your legacy will live on.