ST. JOHN PLESSINGTON HIGH SCHOOL
Head Master : The Rt Rev. Mgr. F. J. McGuiness, S.T.L., M.A.
My dear Parents,
The Michaelmas Term is nearly over now, and the Advent Season also draws to
a close. Soon we shall go, in heart and mind, over to Bethlehem in the Land of Judah,
"............... those holyfields
Over whose acres walk'd those blessed feet
Which fourteen hundred years ago were nail'd
For our advantage on the bitter cross." (Henry IV, I, 1.I.)
Our thoughts will span the centuries as we, in our turn, welcome the Child born for us
all. We have done our best, as a school community, to prepare to welcome Christ once
again, and we have remembered you and our loved ones. May God give you comfort and
consolation in this holy time.
Dates The Christmas holiday begins after school on Friday, 16th December, 1977;
we return for the Lent term on Monday, 9th January, 1978. The Lenten half-term
holiday will begin after school on Friday, 10th February.
Examinations As has been our practice for some years, we shall be holding School
examinations in January, and again in June. The January examinations will begin for
the entire school on Wednesday, 18th January. I trust you will make sure that your son
is in possession of the complete timetable as far as it affects him and that he will
attend all the examinations.
Parents'Evenings We have held meetings between parents and teaching staff for all
divisions of the Second and First Forms during the past term. Immediately after the
examinations we shall start a further series concerned with the Fifth, Third and. Fourth
Forms in that order. Te meeting about the Third Forms will be concerned particularly
with choice of subjects for 'O' level and other examinations to be taken in the Fifth Year.
Expenses I was most grateful to receive your generous contributions to our School
Fund at the beginning of the Michaelmas Term, I hope you will be able to respond with
similar generosity to the appeal which I make for the Chapel Fund at the beginning of the Lent Term. You know that there are expenses connected with public worship which
are not, defrayed by the Local Authority. During the past twelve years in St. Augustine's
Grammar School, through the generosity and devotion of the parents, we had a Chapel well
furnished with all the vestments, liturgical books and altar furnishings which you would
wish to see in your churches. After twelve years some of the vestments need replacing;
in the Lower School there is much to be done: we need complete sets of Mass vestments
for every occasion, and a new altar. For a long time it has been customary to borrow
what was required from St. Anthony's. With the numbers which we have - enough to fill a
very large Church on a Sunday morning - we ought to have our own equipment ready for use.
I trust you will not find £1. too much to ask. It is all I have ever asked for the
Chapel Fund since the time when £1. bought twice as much as it does now. On Monday,
9th January, please make sure your son or daughter has the Chapel Fund subscription of
£1. along with £1.25 for dinners, i.e., a total of £2.25.
Academic success Recently a number of our students in the Sixth Form sat for the very
difficult Entrance Examinations for Colleges of Oxford and Cambridge; we expect to have
their results by the end of January. For the present, I am very happy to pass on to you
one outstanding result of which I received news only yesterday. Richard Briggs, a
resident of St. Elizabeth92s parish, has obtained an Open Exhibition to read Medicine
at University College, Oxford, starting in October, 1978.
Dedication of the new School We shall be keeping the Feast of our Patron on
19th July, since that is the date of his execution at Chester in 1679, but, since so
many of you have asked for information about him, I thought I had better supply some
without further delay.
John Plessington was a Lancashire man, born at Dimples Hall near Garstang. He
received his early schooling from the Jesuits at Scarisbrick Hall, near Ormskirk, and
went on to the Jesuit College at St. Omers. Wishing to become a priest, he went to the
English College at Valladolid and was ordained at Segovia. In 1663 he went to Holywell
in Flintshire, which was a place relatively unaffected by persecution at that time.
We know that by 1670 he had moved to Puddington Hall near Chester, where he fulfilled
the duties described by Catholics of that period as those of "Schoolmaster", i.e., a
priest living in the house of the Squire as a tutor to the children, and serving as
the missionary parish priest for the whole neighbourhood. He might have escaped
detection, as other priests did at that time, but for the renewed outbreak of persecution
following the false announcement of the "Popish Plot" by Titus Oates. John Plessington
was arrested and condemned as a priest, and in 1679 in the reign of Charles II he was
condemned to be hanged, drawn and quartered. The execution took place at Barrowshill
at Boughton outside the City of Chester. He is buried at Burton cemetery. He was
one of the 40 Blessed Martyrs canonised in 1970.
The School's coat of arms, which is shown on our headed paper, on the blazer, etc.,
is adapted from that of the Plessington family, which was "Azure, a cross flory between
four martlets argent." The tincture has been altered from azure to purpure for a
difference. The School motto, "Potius hodie quam cras" means "rather today than
tomorrow". These are the words of another Martyr of the days of persecution -
Saint Ralph Herwin - when he was asked in Rome whether it was his intention to go to
England as a missionary.
Changes in Teaching Staff We say farewell to the following:-
Mrs. N. C. Foots and Mr. R. G. Skiba
We shall welcome at the beginning of next term Mr. P. J. Comerford, M.., who will take
on the post of Head of the Religious Education Department.
Congratulations To congratulate means to give thanks with other people. As leader
of this community, I am myself profoundly grateful for the co-operation which I have
received, not only from my colleagues on the teaching staff and from my pupils, but
also from you, the parents: you have co-operated with generosity and sympathy in the
establishment of this new school, which is to be the means of bringing so many good
things to our young people and to those whom they are to serve in future years.
During our Prayers in this Christmas season we have many people to remember, many things
to bear in mind; let us thank God for all the blessings bestowed on our School and ask
for his continued protection and guidance in the many years that lie ahead. May you
and all your families enjoy peace, consolation and every happiness this Christmas.