The Britannia stadium in Stoke-on-Trent was recently transformed into a cathedral as 1,100 students from St Joseph’s College attended Mass at the home of Stoke City football club.
The Mass was held to mark the school’s new academy status and commemorate St Joseph’s feast day.
Roisin Maguire, the headteacher of the Trent Vale school, said that a further 500 guests from the community had taken part in the service.
Ms Maguire, one of the country’s new National Leaders in Education, said: “St Joseph’s is a school that is going places and Stoke City is a club that is going places, namely Wembley for the FA Cup semi-final and hopefully the final.
“I believe people in the city will be proud of both institutions, which say so much about us and the strength, vigour and vibrancy of the local community.
“It was fantastic to be in the Britannia Stadium celebrating the success of the school and the annual feast day. The stadium is a magnificent setting to celebrate with the local community, and our students were very excited to be taking part.”
Bishop David McGough, an auxiliary bishop of Birmingham and a former pupil of St Joseph’s Preparatory School, celebrated the Mass.
Bishop McGough said: “It’s a great day for the school, as they’re celebrating a very special day in their calendar. I wish the school all the best.”
The school, which is a specialist science college, gained academy status in February. The school is Stoke’s only Ofsted-rated outstanding secondary school.
Patrick Brian Wright was among those present at the Mass. A St Joseph’s Old Boy, Mr Wright was one of the first pupils to attend the school from 1932 to 1939. Today he is 89
Mr Wright said: “It’s great to be here, and certainly a different way of celebrating Mass to how we did almost 80 years ago. It was fantastic school back in the 1930s with strong but fair discipline and I very much believe that everything I learned at St Joseph’s helped me throughout my career as an accountant.”
John Rudge, the director of football for Stoke City, was also present.
He said: “It’s fantastic to have the school with us today and shows Stoke City Football Club’s strong connection with the community. Whether they sang as loud as our fans I don’t know, but I’m sure they did their best. There was certainly a similar sense of belief and hope.”