EVERY headmaster thinks his school is the best.
But Mr. P. J. O'Connell openly challenges anyone who doubts that St. Richards of Chichester in Camden Town. London, is the best to go along and have a look for
If you do, you may have a job finding it. The 700 pupils and 44 teachers are separated into two "unspectacular old buildings", one in Royal College Street, the other in Agincourt Road. And to make matters more difficult, the school, which went comprehensive three years ago, has its playing fields scattered eight miles apart. its rowing house at Putney and its conference and field-study centre at Spode House in Rugeley, Staffs.
Rut to show that, despite all the disadvantages St. Richard's is a "going concern", Mr. O'Connell had one of the art teachers, Mr. Howard Green, make a coloured film of everyday and special activities during the past year. Mr. Greene did a superb job of capturing the youngsters' enthusiasm, concentration, occasional bursts of mischief during the fast-moving hour-long sequence. Recently at a public showing, parents were absorbed as they M atched their children hard at oork in the chemistry leb., rowing up the Thames, painting, typing, praying. listening to music, talking over the value of religious instruction, scuffling in the playground, And the best part of the film is its spontaneity — somehow Mr. Greene managed to photograph the children without their seeming to know it.
I hope Mr. O'Connell will make the film available to other schools, for it certainly shows what a remarkably good spirit a big school can achieve. In spite of his modesty, he admits the spirit is there. and he credits it to his staff ho try to give the pupils "legitimate ambitions". meaning: "If they're willing to work and follom the school discipline. there's nothing they can't do. Everything is ahead of them."
At least one pupil is cornpletely convinced. an I I-year-old named Pat English, As I was wandering around Camden Town looking for Si. Richard's, she rescued me and took me there. "It's the best school in London," she said, confident that she was right.
100 years ago
A100-YEAR-OLD ecumenical project was unearthed this week by the church of the English Martyrs at Tower Hill, London. In preparing for its centenary the parish dug tip its old chronicles and found that in 1866 the first priest. Fr. Robert Cooke, O.M.L. successfully fought a cholera plague, with the local Anglican vicar working in his relief service.
The following year three Anglican clergymen in the parish became Catholics, and two of them were later ordained priests. Shortly after that Cardinal Manning paid his first visit to the parish and stayed at the house of a local Jess. it is ironic, I suppose, that the church of the English Martyrs overlooks the Tower where many of the forty martyrs were executed.
In those days Tower Hill was a dockers area of about 20.000 Catholics. Today it has only 1,300 parishioners to take part in the centenary celebrations which begin next Thursday with a solemn High Mass at 8 p.m.
French 'entente), CHURCH DIGNITARIES will turn out in force in London next week to mark the centenary of the French church of Notre Dame in Leicester Square. I hear that at least two Cardinals, two Archbishops, and a few bishops will attend ceremonies at the church. I am told that on Tuesday M. Rene Varin, former French cultural advisor in London, will talk on the history of the church at 8.15 p.m. Archbishop Cardinale. the Apostolic Delegate. will consecrate the altar at 9.30 a.m. on Thursday and this ceremony will he followed by an 11 a.m. Mass celebrated by Cardinal Heenan of Westminster. Cardinal Lienart of Lille will preach.
On Friday morning there will be a bazaar and an organ concert and on Sunday a solemn Mass at II a.m. This will be celebrated by Cardinal Heenan, Archbishop Pailler of Rouen and Bishop Boisguerin of Sui Fu, the bishop in charge of Chinese Catholics living in London,
MR. JOHN JUDK INS. who has just been made a Knight of St. Gregory by Pope Paul, is probably the foremost authority on the Walsingham pilgrimage in Britain. With only one exception he has been on all the walks to the shrine and last year published a hook entitled The WaiWaiting/tauta w(a Ill-health forced him to give up all hopes of making his thirteenth trip last September and he is doubtful about going rani summer. "But I would glaclb-. ha told me this week, "trade in my K.S.G. to do the walk again." Mr. Judkins is oe the executive committee of the Guild of Our lady of Ransom which organises the %silk. Each year 25 selected men carry about 5.0(X) petitions over the 121 miles from Kingsway, London, to Walsinghare On the way, they sleep in parish halls and sometimes at a wayside inn.
I-1k pet interest, apart from walking to Walsingham, is Blessed John Fisher. one of the English Martyrs. For 12 years he has given a lecture in Fisher's cell during the annual pilgrimage around the Tower of London. He also devotes a lot of his time to helping the monks on Caldcy Island sell their perfume, and his wife opened their London shop three years ago.
Looking for Noah
ANYTHING TO DO with archaeology fascinates me and I am tantalised by questions like: Is there any chance of finding Noah's Ark'? It is not so senseless as it seems. Certainly several expeditions have looked for it.
A Turkish one in 1833 reported seeing the prow of a wooden vessel sticking out of a glacier on thg southern side of Mt. Ararat, near the borders of Russia and Iran.
A World War I Russian pilot said he saw "the wreckage of a fair-sized ship" in the same place. And Tsar Nicholas of Russia sent another expedition which claimed to have photographed the ship. Were they looking in the wrong place? An interesting theory has been put forward in the first (March) issue of a weekly colour encyclopaedia, New littoWiedgr.
This recalls a Sumerian epic, written down about 4.000 years ago, which bears a remarkable similarity to the Genesis account of the Flood. According to it, the gods decided to destroy the evil world but one mortal, Gilgamesh, was tipped eft to build an ark. The Flood lasted for six days, after NX h ch Gilgamesh sent forth a dove, a swallow and a crow. When the crow did not return, Gilgamesh left the ark which grounded on Mt. Nisir.
This mountain is in the great valley of the Tigris and Euphrates where in 1929. Sit Leonard found evidence ol great flood about 4,000 years ago.
Query: Are Gilgamesh and Noah one and the same man'? And might the Ark be found on Mt. Nisir? No one seems to have
THEY always get me. No matter what I do I can't avoid them. They play facts before my captive eyes with posters on the underground; they stretch out empty hands, or tin-holding hands, in the S treets and just as I'M fumbling with change outside the cinema; they sneak upon me with my morning cup of tea and newspaper. and they conic through the mail addressed to me personally.
They are appeals.
They want money for food, money for research, money for propaganda, money to cover the cost of appealing for money. And they battle with me for my shilling (usually), my pound note (occasionally) or my cheque (signal events making rare stellar appearances in toy cheque-hook stubs). But they battle even more with leseaacpI the rt eailimarilship. We all give in to varying degrees of it. So it's nice when someone says "thank you". The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has put out a report on All Star Festival. This best-selling record with freely given songs by wellknown stars, raised more than f.:300.000. The report is an account of where the money is going. And a "Thank you" to boot.