St Vincent’s Castleknock College was founded in 1835 by the Vincentian Order. The first student to walk through the front doors was John Lynch from Clones in Monaghan and since then the spirit of St Vincent de Paul pervades throughout everything that is done at the college. John Lynch became a priest and later Archbishop of Toronto and many other past pupils became priests – some Vincentian, some not.
These days’ vocations are few and far between but that does not mean that the ethos of the college has changed or diminished. Far from it. Visitors to the college constantly remark at the friendly atmosphere and the good relations between students and teachers. They study and work together, as St Vincent de Paul instructed, as ‘dear friends’.
At St Vincent’s Castleknock College the students are treated with respect. The staff talk to them as adults, whether they are 12 or 19. In return it’s expected that they treat each other, as well as all who work in the college, with respect and that attitude applies also to the buildings and the grounds.
The college community tries to live out the Vincentian ethos in other ways. There are vibrant Societies of St Vincent de Paul and, through these, students do various good deeds around the Dublin area such as visiting the elderly in Phibsborough, helping feed older people with Alzheimer’s in Cherry Orchard, holding parties for children with special needs at Christmas, raising funds for the SVP through the Christmas fair, collecting hampers for needy families at Christmas and much more.
St Vincent’s Castleknock College has a sister college in Ambo Ethiopia which includes a secondary school, a school for blind children and a village for people suffering from leprosy. Over the years, substantial sums of money have been raised to build schoolrooms, improve facilities and bring educational equipment and clothes to the children there. Each year six (sometimes more) students and three teachers go out to Ambo to work. Other members of staff, as well as parents, have worked there too under the guidance of the College Chaplain, John Gallagher CM. The college will continue this important work in the spirit of St Vincent de Paul for the foreseeable future.