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Cardinal Vincent Nichols has paid tribute to the Leeds pupils coming to terms with the “trauma” of the stabbing to death of their teacher in her classroom two weeks ago.
The Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster visited the school of murdered Ann Maguire, Corpus Christi Catholic College, along with the Archbishop of Liverpool, Malcolm McMahon, during the bishops’ plenary meeting in Leeds last week.
The cardinal told The Tablet: “There was a huge sense of loss and I think the school and everybody knows that’s going to take a long, long time to recover from.”
During the visit the cardinal and the archbishop saw displays of stickers and banners created by the children to help them express themselves after the death, and a display of international messages of support.
They also met with a group of Year 11 students (aged 15-16). Cardinal Nichols praised the role the children’s faith had played in their recovery, adding that it had made an impact on representatives of the local authority.
The cardinal reported that Archbishop McMahon had said: “‘If you ever wanted a demonstration of the lasting values of Catholic education then go to that school.’” Nichols added: “We can be very proud that here were children who had gone through a real trauma and had not lost their poise, because they were standing on the rock of faith,” he added.
Mrs Maguire was remembered last week in special prayers during Masses at some 90 Catholic churches in West Yorkshire, with a combined congregation of 32,000.
Mgr John Wilson, the administrator for the Diocese of Leeds, had written to the churches: “It goes without saying, but please would you pray especially for Ann, her family and the college and local community. It is in the strength of prayer that we stand united in faith.”
Meanwhile, a book of condolence was opened at Leeds Cathedral, with members of the public writing their tributes and prayers for Mrs Maguire, who taught Spanish and RE and was due to retire within weeks of her death.
A memorial service will be held at the cathedral in due course for Mrs Maguire, who was married to Donald Maguire, 62, and was the mother of daughters Kerry, 32 and Emma, 30.
Earlier this month hundreds of pupils from Corpus Christi gathered for memorial football matches outside the school, each wearing shirts with "Maguire 61" printed on the back. The games, which were preceded by one-minute silences, were organised to raise money for the forthcoming memorial.
The National Association of Head Teachers at their conference in Birmingham also held a minute's silence in memory of Mrs Maguire.
A 15-year-old boy has been charged with Mrs Maguire's murder, the first of a teacher in a classroom since the Dunblane killings in 1996.