On the 24th of May 2012, John the Baptist C.S. was deeply honoured by the visit of Tomi Reichental, a survivor of the Holocaust during World War Two. Mr. Reichental, a Slovac Jew, survived the horrors of the Bergin-Belsin Concentration Camp. He lost thirty-five members of his family to such camps. He spoke at length of his harrowing experience to the large assembled group of six hundred students, members of the public, representatives from local historical societies and well as the staff of John the Baptist C.S. This was truly a momentous occaion for the school, and was marked by the unveiling of a granite monument, topped with a sculpture of the Star of David backed by a rising sun of bronze created by teacher Willie Gleeson.
These were the words of welcome given to Mr. Reichental on the day by Fr. Sean Fennelly, who was instrumental in organising this thought-provoking event:
“To all students, staff and visitors – this is truly a “Red Letter day” as our community of John the Baptist Secondary School welcomes Tomi Reichental to Hospital. We do not underestimate the importance of being afforded this unique opportunity to hear, first-hand, the voice of one who was there and lived through one of Humanities darkest hours. It is a huge privilege and honour for us. I take this opportunity to thank all those who helped, in any way, to make it possible both inside and outside the school system. A very sincere word of thanks to the “Holocaust Education Trust Ireland” for their invaluable assistance in organising this historic event. Above all I wish to thank Tomi himself – for his extraordinary strength and breath taking courage as he relives a horrendously painful chapter of his life. We are grateful to his powerful sense of duty in playing his difficult part in making this story known to as many people as possible. We are obliged to “tell your children”, there is an obligation not to forget. Let this important day and the ominous dark story that you hear upon it stir your mind and live on in your heart not so much as to perpetuate the pain but as to ensure that, for all future generations, the wo