To mark the retirement of our beloved Parish Priest of 25 years the pupils and staff of Scoil Naomh Iosef assembled to bid farewell to Canon Ambrose. It was an emotional gathering as our hugely popular Parish Priest came to say goodbye to the children who loved him dearly and with whom he worked so closely during his ministry. These were the children he baptised, heard their First Confession, administered their First Eucharist, guided them towards Confirmation and led them into the presence of Jesus every Sunday. Shannon Buckley, on behalf of all the pupils, made a presentation to our Canon. Mr. Murphy, who is acting Principal, in the absence of our Principal, Mrs. Twomey, made a presentation on behalf of the staff and followed with a very fine tribute to Canon Ambrose. Our resident poet Mrs. Keyes presented her own composition to the Canon after the children recited it for him. Other staff members present on the day were: Mrs. Cunningham, Mr. Guiry, Ms. Brosnan, Fiona Boyce, Marion Matthews, Kieran Ryan and former Principal David Browne. His ministry was inspired by deep faith, hope and love. We are very grateful in Scoil Naomh Iosef to have shared in his ministry. We have always been inspired and touched by his deep personal faith. It was with Canon Ambrose’s encouragement that we started to meditate as part of our religion programme in Scoil Naomh Iosef. He taught us how children can be still and silent and enjoy it as they long for the experience of meeting Jesus. Canon Ambrose was the living exemplar of the school’s mission statement. He led the school in the harmonious development of our children’s education in becoming responsible, caring members of society. He nurtured and maintained a school community which involves the partnership of home, school and parish. Canon Ambrose was an inspirational leader on our Board of Management. As Chairperson of the Board for the last 25 years tremendous progress was made under his leadership. His excellent people skills opened many doors when dealing with the Department of Education and Skills officials. He was a great negotiator and was successful in securing many grants for the school. His most recent acquisition was a grant for a large extension to be started in the spring 2012. On a pastoral level he was a great friend to the pupils and the staff. We looked forward to his visit every Wednesday. He always enjoyed the cup of tea and he would share with us all the parish updates. He was a trusted friend and you could be assured that the matter discussed with him remained with him. Canon Ambrose loved sport and was hugely committed to all the clubs in the parish. He always enjoyed the matches and would travel any distance in support of the gallant Drom/Broadford teams. He also shared in our success at school level. He most certainly invoked divine intervention to bring victory to our school in both hurling and football last year. One of the abiding memories of our Canon will be of the influential homilies he gave at the weekend Masses. While he was fluent in five languages, English, Irish, French, Latin and Greek, he spoke in very simple English to his congregation. Yet the homily was a skilled weaving together of human story and scripture, of nature, art, history, science, physics and above all divinity. He would draw on references such as the ‘Praying Hands’ art work of Albrecht Durer or the Dawkins theory of evolution or Viktor Frankl and the Auschwitz concentration camps experience but it was always crafted to include the depths and reflections of divinity. When he spoke it was from the heart and his faith reached out to all in his church community. Everybody got something from his homily and we all felt it was directed at ourselves. It was not surprising to see such a large attendance at the weekend Masses, particularly young people, he would speak directly to them too and wish them well in their school, interests and sporting endeavors. He was a central figure in the life of our parish and particularly our school. He shared in all our joys and sorrows and progress. Every time we think of Canon Ambrose, we thank God for the privilege of sharing in his ministry and for his strong presence in Scoil Naomh Iosef. God bless him always and keep him safe. We welcome our new parish priest Fr. Frank O’ Dea and we look forward to working with him.