Sister Anna Hoare has been working for peace all her life. Her major achievement was the creation of the first Protestant and Catholic integrated school, Lagan College, in Northern Ireland. Today there are over 50 integrated schools in Northern Ireland, with a total student body of over 12,000. Her work has been a beacon to the communities she has directly served and an exemplum of what is possible in one of the most unstable and violent regions.
By establishing Northern Ireland’s first integrated school, Lagan College, Sr. Anna Hoare has created a living and sustainable legacy for communal harmony in the region. When, in 1972, she moved to Belfast, it was the early years of ‘The Troubles’ – the increased violence that began in the late '60s and only came to an end in the '90s. As a result, the prevailing ‘ghettoization’ of Catholics and Protestants was exacerbated and the British Army was called onto the streets, an act which resulted in yet further hostility and violence. Sr. Anna began her work by arranging holidays in Northern Ireland for children from both confessions. From this developed the idea of an integrated school. Today Lagan College has 1000 students and the total number of students enrolled in Northern Ireland’s integrated schools in the region is 12,000. Lagan College’s purpose is to break down barriers of ‘us’ and ‘them’ between Catholics and Protestants by fostering a climate of reconciliation and understanding. Students from both denominations study together and learn how to coexist peacefully with one another. As more and more alumni emerge from Lagan College and Northern Ireland’s other integrated schools, it is hoped that by sharing their experiences with their colleagues, families and friends they can produce a society in which peace and tolerance are not regarded as an aberration, but as the norm.
Community of the Sisters of the Love of God Lagan College