LAST Sunday afternoon Dominican staff, past and present, governors and members of the Dominican Community joined Dr Bob Cummings and his family for a special Mass of Thanksgiving, celebrated by Fr Raymond McCullagh, to mark his retirement.
Welcoming guests who included Bob’s wife Judith, his daughters Jill and Emma and his sister Margaret, Fr Raymond explained how it was a great privilege and honour to be celebrating this special occasion.
Drawing on his own experiences at Maynooth, Fr Raymond told the congregation how the best advice he had been given in his time there came near the end of his four years when he was told to: “Get ready to say goodbye for the next time you leave here you will return a visitor”.
Fr Raymond reflected on how difficult, yet necessary it is in life to say goodbye to people and places that have shaped our lives. He told Bob’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”.
Drawing on the readings in the liturgy Fr Raymond described how the three higher gifts are faith, charity and love. He spoke about how a school principal needs all three of these along with organisation and people skills.
He described how love was at the very centre of the Dominican educational experience. He spoke of how Bob had brought love to our Dominican school and how he would never be forgotten and forever loved by the school community.
The second reading from Ecclesiastes 3 was, according to Fr Raymond “practically a job description for a Dominican principal with its descriptions of patience, kindness and goodness”.
On a slightly less serious note, Fr Raymond told Dr Cummings how, as a lifelong Liverpool fan, he had tried but failed to find some inspiring words on leadership from Sir Alex Ferguson. He spoke of how Dr Cummings was “in very good company in retiring this year joining as he does a “holy trinity” also consisting of Pope Benedict and Alex Ferguson”.
In concluding his homily, Fr Raymond drew on the words of Pope Benedict in his final tweet before he became Pope: “May you always experience the joy that comes from putting Christ at the centre of your life”. He stated his wish, and the wish of all those gathered that Bob would continue to experience the joy of putting Christ at the centre of his life.
Turning to Ms Ronan, Dr Cummings’ successor as Principal, Fr Raymond prayed that she too would continue this challenge to love and the Dominican legacy passed on by all previous principals.