WANGANUI — St Catherine’s College, Kilbirnie, has won the 2014 competition for the O’Shea Shield.
Seventeeen Catholic colleges from Palmerston North diocese and Wellington archdiocese compete
annually for the shield, in seven public speaking events: debating, religious questions, religious drama, Scripture readings, impromptu speech, oratory and junior prepared

The St Catherine’s College debating team from the 2014 O’Shea Shield. From left, Julia Ryan, Ella Jansen and Emily van Voornveld with their coach Vicki Casey (Ella’s mother). The girls won the “Best Negative Team” Cup.

St Catherine’s, in Kilbirnie, Wellington, is one of the smallest colleges in the competition.
To prepare for the competition, entrants must become familiar with Scripture and Church readings, investigate the opinion of the Church on a variety of topics (such as whether
the pope should be on Facebook) and practise speeches and lines over and over again.
But O’Shea is not only about the competition, being better than the other students from
our rival Catholic colleges; it is a reason and an opportunity to meet and socialise with new
This year, the O’Shea Shield was held at St John’s College in Hastings. All students were
there for a common purpose, which led us to making new friends and taking us outside our comfort zones.
During my time at the O’Shea Shield, I learned that it’s okay to be yourself. There was no judgment towards others, except in the competition, and everybody was open and honest. Yes, we wanted to win, but at the end of the day it was the friendships we made and the fun that we had — there and during the travelling — that made this a competition like no other.
During the lunch break at St John’s College, students came together in one large circle to
sing, play games, dance, share their talents, laugh and enjoy each other’s company.
Next year’s competition will be hosted by another of the 17 colleges in the two dioceses —
St Patrick’s, Kilbirnie.
Bella Gibney is a year 10 student at Cullinane College, Wanganui.