History of SCA
The School Chaplains’ Association was founded in 1976 by Fr. Seán Ó Longaigh, a Priest of the Diocese of Limerick.
The first meeting of the Association took place on Saturday, 10th April 1976 at the Marianella Centre, Rathgar in Dublin. Initially the membership of the Association consisted solely of Chaplains from Community and Comprehensive Schools as these were the only schools with full time Chaplains. The association went into abeyance in the mid-1980s.
In the 1990’s there was a revival of the School Chaplains’ Association. We have recorded minutes of Executive meetings from this time on. The annual National Conference took place in Gort Mhuire in Dublin for many years in November. This received Department of Education approval as official in-service for Chaplains.
One of the main priorities for the Chaplains’ Executive during these years was the issue of contracts. This became a greater priority following the appointment of lay Chaplains from 1992 onwards. Hand in hand with the Executives discussions with the Episcopal Conferences re contracts, was the need to define the role of the Chaplain and the duties attached. Evidence of communication to school managements has also been kept on file, outlining guidelines and agreed duties a Chaplain is expected to fulfill in schools including maximum teaching hours.
One can see that this attempt to formalise the role led to a more professional understanding of chaplaincy. Courses training new Chaplains became available as a result and the SCA were invited to nominate two representatives to the Programme Board for the Graduate Diploma/MA in School Chaplaincy & Pastoral Care in Mater Dei in the year 2000.
Our records also show that from a few clusters covering huge geographical areas in the early 90’s, many more regional groups sprung up over the years at a more local level, offering Chaplains more accessible and invaluable peer support.
And so, it is clear from our records of the work carried out on behalf of School Chaplains across the country throughout the 90’s and onwards, that great credit and appreciation is due to those who worked on our behalf.
The Association has continued to evolve, and go from strength to strength, addressing relevant needs as they arise, but looking back over the records of the Association, a firm foundation was laid, and we are indebted to those executive members over the years who voluntarily committed to keep the torch lighting with strength & warmth.