Religious Education

 Members of Department

  • Mrs C. Niblock (Head of Department)
  • Ms K. Breen
  • Mr P. O’Reilly (Liturgical Co-ordinator)
  • Ms A. McParland
  • Ms C. Agnew
  • Ms R. Browne

Dominican College, Fortwilliam was established by the Irish Dominican Sisters in 1930. In common with all Dominican Schools and Colleges throughout the world Dominican educators draw their inspiration from St. Dominic, founder of the Order of Preachers (1170 – 1221) who based his ministry and that of his followers on the life and work of Jesus, the teacher and preacher.

The motto of all Dominican Schools is Veritas - Truth. St Dominic believed that he had a mission to bring the truth of the Gospel to the world and to remind people that this truth was an encounter with the God of love. Veritas is not just our motto, it sums up the whole purpose of being a Dominican: to praise, to bless and to preach the truth of the Gospel.

Religious Education is central to the ethos of Dominican College, Fortwilliam.

We, as a department, see our primary function as enabling each individual to grow in her relationship with Christ. Our aim is to help our pupils mature in their faith. We wish to help our pupils arrive at a point in their faith journey where they can make personal the choices made for them at baptism. We encourage pupils to appreciate their own religious values and traditions whilst respecting the traditions of others and challenge them to live out the Christian values in their daily lives. We want them to be sure of their identity and worth as individuals created in the image and likeness of God.

“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire”.
(St. Catherine of Siena)

St Catherine of Siena detail

Dominican Youth Forum

Open Day



The ‘Fully Alive' programme feeds into a comprehensive faith-based programme delivered at Key Stage 3. The programme centres on faith in God, the Bible, sacraments, moral teachings and prayer and meets the requirements of the NI Curriculum. Through the programme the students are given the opportunity to:

  • develop their understanding of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
  • appreciate the scriptures.
  • celebrate the sacraments.
  • understand the Church and its teachings.
  • experience different forms of prayer.
  • be supported in their faith and spiritual development.

In Year 8 pupils have the opportunity to study: the history of St. Dominic and the Dominican Order; the Bible and its relevance to the modern world; the Rosary; the life and ministry of Jesus; Advent; the Eucharist; Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Week; Easter, and Reconciliation.

Human Rosary

Year 8 Pupils participate in a Human Rosary during the Month of October - link

Year 8 Pupils pictured with Ceile Mission Team members Fr John Keane and Veronica McGurk

Year 8 Pupils pictured with Ceile Mission Team members Fr John Keane and Veronica McGurk


In Year 9 pupils have the opportunity to study: Creation, Environmental Stewardship, the Covenant, Conscience and Morality, the Reformation, Denominations of Christianity, Christian Unity and Judaism.

Visit to Presbyterian Church

 Visit to Synagogue


In Year 10 pupils have the opportunity to study: Christian Values, Equality and Human Rights; Jesus’ Ministry and the Role of Discipleship; the Value of Human Life.

Visit to Belfast Islamic Centre

Dominican College pupils visit the Belfast Islamic Centre as part of their studies of Islam in Year 10



The Religious Studies course which begins in Year 11 is a two year course which seeks to consolidate and build on the knowledge and skills developed at earlier stages in the school, and to facilitate further study at a more advanced level. This subject is also focused on the moral development and faith nurturing of the student. Each student in Dominican College Fortwilliam is entered for the GCSE examination.

The syllabus is designed to help students to appreciate religious, spiritual and moral dimensions of life with respect to the beliefs, values and attitudes of others.

The course is divided into two papers.

Paper 1 : Roman Catholicism: Ethics (Unit 4)

This unit will examine the effect of the Roman Catholic Tradition upon aspects of Christian lifestyle and behaviour, focusing on sacraments, Christian values and moral and ethical issues.

Paper 2 : St Mark’s Gospel (Unit 5)

This unit gives candidates an opportunity to study from Mark’s Gospel, key events in the life of Jesus and key themes to be found in that gospel, and to consider their significance for Jesus, his disciples and for modern Christianity.

Students sit two written papers, each worth 50% of the course, at the end of Year 12.

There is no coursework or controlled assessment for GCSE Religious Education.

GCSE Results (Summer 2014)

98% A* - C

61% A*-A


AS & A2

The study of Religion makes a particular contribution to student’s understanding of spiritual, moral ethical and cultural issues by encouraging them to reflect upon their own attitudes, and those of others, to the topics under consideration. This course aims to develop an interest in and enthusiasm for Religion. It provides students with the opportunity to learn about, discuss, evaluate and learn from religious beliefs, practices and values. It offers opportunities for candidates to engage with challenging questions about the meaning and purpose of life, peoples place in society and the world around them. It allows them to evaluate information and evidence and arrive at reasoned conclusions and judgements. Students will be taught to develop their skills of analysis and enquiry, enabling them to adopt a critical and empathetic approach to Religion.

A Popular Choice: Religious Studies is the second most popular A-Level Choice for girls in Northern Ireland.

A-Level Results (Summer 2014)

97% A* - C

Specification Content

AS Component (Year 13): Two modular units are studied.

Module 1: An Introduction to the Gospel of Luke (AS 1)

Module 2: Religious Ethics: Foundations, Principals and Practice (AS 6)


The Origins of the Celtic Church in Ireland and the beginnings of its missionary outreach (AS 5)

A2 Component (Year 14): A further two modules are studied to complete the ‘A’ Level course.

Module 3: The Theology of the Gospel of Luke (A2 1)

Module 4: Ethics and Society (A2 6)


A study of the development and impact of the Celtic Church in the 5th, 6th & 7th Centuries (A2 5)

Format of Assessment/Examination Structure

AS: 2 Papers (50% of AS, 25% of A2)

Each AS paper is 1 hour 20 minutes

A2:  2 Papers (25% of A2)

(Each paper worth 50% of A2 and 25% of A Level)

Each A2 paper is 2 hours


 Year 13 pupils attend AS Lecture on Luke's Gospel and Ethics held at Stormont Hotel - link


Enhanced RE

All students in Year 13 and 14 (with the exception of those studying AS/A2 RE) participate in the Enhanced Religious Education programme. This is a specially designed course which allows our pupils to focus on topics such as Human Rights and Justice (with links to SVP and Trocaire); Faith in the Modern Day World; Prayer and Spirituality. Guest speakers are invited in on a regular basis to enrich this learning experience.


“Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at his disposition, and listening to his voice in the depth of our hearts”.
(Mother Teresa)

Our Lady of the Rosary Chapel, Dominican College, Fortwilliam

Taize Prayer Service 

The Chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary stands at the heart of our school and has been a sacred and much cherished space for generations of pupils. It contains a beautiful selection of stained glass windows which were designed by local artist, Mr Dan Braniff.

Liturgy Group Members pictured with Sr. Jacqueline OReilly O.P. and Fr. Pat McLaughlin

Members of the Junior and Senior Liturgy Groups pictured with Sr. Jacqueline O'Reilly OP and Fr. Pat McLaughlin (St Gerard's Parish).


Prayer opens our minds and expands our vision. We encourage our pupils to integrate prayer into their daily life. As such, prayer and liturgy play a central role within school life. Our staff and pupils are invited to attend and participate in a variety of liturgical events including school Masses, reconciliation services and prayer services. Special emphasis is paid to the seasons of Advent and Lent.

Year 8 Living Rosary

Year 8 Pupils pictured with Ceile Mission Team members Fr John Keane and Veronica McGurk

Year 8 Pupils pictured with Ceile Mission Team members Fr John Keane and Veronica McGurk

10C Attend St Gerards Novena

All Year 10 pupils were invited to attend the St Gerard's Novena in May 2015. 10C are pictured above with their class teacher, Mrs C Niblock, standing outside St Gerard's Church.



In our very complex and fast moving world there is a need to be reminded that a person is more than their achievements. They have an absolute value and dignity given to them by God because they are ‘made in the image and likeness of God’.

A central element in the education of our students at Dominican College, Fortwilliam, is their spiritual development. Retreat days are offered to our pupils and provide a unique experience to develop their personal spirituality, mental well-being and a more positive outlook on life. These retreat days allow them time and space to reflect, to discuss their faith and to share this experience with their classmates and friends. These are always memorable experiences which remain in the memories of our pupils long after they leave Dominican College.

Fundraising & Social Justice

Extra-curricular activities help to enrich the life of the school and students at Dominican College are offered opportunities to participate in a variety of fundraising initiatives. Our school has a long history of supporting both St Vincent de Paul and Trócaire throughout the year. We also support a number of other charities including the Saphara project, the Christmas ‘shoe box’ appeal, the Welcome Organisation, Children in Crossfire, the Kosovo Support Group and the Northern Ireland Hospice.

Dominican College Trocaire Lenten Appeal

Syrian Refugee Appeal


John Paul II Award

Co-ordinator: Mrs C. Niblock

This award recognises the voluntary work undertaken in both school and parish settings over the course of a two year period. The pupils involved in the Pope John Paul II Award make a significant contribution to the life of the school, leading the younger pupils in prayer services during the various liturgical seasons, as well as raising awareness and coordinating events for St Vincent de Paul and Trócaire. The pupils are required to undertake half of their voluntary service in their local parish; contributing to activities like Children’s Liturgy, helping to facilitate youth groups and volunteering their time and talents in the aid of local charities. 34 of our pupils received their awards at a special ceremony in St. Mary’s Church, Chapel Lane, Belfast on Thursday 5th February 2015.

Liturgy Group Members pictured with Sr. Jacqueline OReilly O.P. and Fr. Pat McLaughlin

2013/14 John Paul II Award recipients


JPII with Shoeboxes

John Paul II pupils help coordinate the Christmas Shoe Box Appeal


JP II Meeting

John Paul II Members Meeting

NO 65 & John Paull II






38 Fortwilliam Park,

Belfast, County Antrim

BT15 4AQ

028 9037 0298