School News (121)
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
At this time of year, both the liturgy of Advent and the winter season bring thoughts and feelings of anticipation and longing. These changes in mood are beautifully brought to life in song both sacred and secular, and in celebration when families, friends, schools and parishes come together in preparation for the celebration of the birth of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ at Christmas and the beginning of a new year.
As this school term draws to its close, I would like to offer my thanks to leaders, teachers, learning assistants, chaplains and all staff who work in our diocesan schools and colleges. It is the love and commitment lived out in your vocation as educators that makes a Catholic school a place where children and young people can learn and flourish, be formed in Gospel values and grow in Christian virtues.
I wish to thank governors and trust boards, for their dedication in providing the stewardship and care of our school and college communities. Without your diligent assistance and the precious gift of your time, our schools and colleges would not have proved so resilient during the adversities of these past few years, nor be as well placed to meet the challenges which confront us now and lay ahead.
My heart feels a deep gratitude also to parents, guardians and families for all the support which you give to the schools and colleges entrusted with the education, welfare and spiritual development of your children. Schools can only build on what children learn in their homes. It is the love, reassurance and encouragement that you give to your children which makes you their first and best teachers, and it is the personal example of goodness that you give to them daily in their life at home which provides them with their first and best school.
During these joyous Advent and Christmas seasons, may Almighty God bless you, your families and loved ones, and keep you safe throughout the Year of Our Lord 2023.
With the assurance of my prayers for you all, I remain,
Yours in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Rt Rev Marcus Stock
Chair of the Catholic Education Service
Bishop of Leeds
St John Henry Newman Catholic Primary School and Nursery, in Hampton Water, Peterborough, has been blessed by Bishop Alan Hopes during a visit to the first new Catholic school to be opened in the whole country in more than a decade.
Bishop Alan visited on September 14 to meet staff and pupils and to formally bless the school, which opened earlier in September with more than 50 nursery, reception, year 1 and 2 children already enrolled.
Once full, it can accommodate 630 children in 21 classrooms, making it the biggest Catholic Primary School in East Anglia.
Mark Cooper, head teacher at St John Henry Newman, said: “After many months, planning and preparing, we are delighted to welcome our first cohorts of Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 children to our school.
“The staff have worked incredibly hard over the summer to prepare the school for our children and the school is looking amazing. We are now excited to begin the children’s learning journey with us.
“It was fantastic to mark the opening of the school with Bishop Alan blessing our lovely school building. To have all of our children and staff together with people who have helped so much on the journey of our school development project was a very special moment.”
Flavio Vettese, Chair of Governors, said: “On behalf of the Governing Body of the school, I would sincerely like to thank Councillor Lynne Ayers for her tremendous support for the school, and I am delighted that she joined us today, and indeed will in the future, to witness the growth of the school. Our gratitude is also extended to Bishop Alan Hopes for his vision, commitment and inspiration to us all throughout the journey – he will always be a guiding light for us all.
“I am also grateful to our Headteacher Mark Cooper – he has already shown his commitment and dedication, and his experience and knowledge will ensure that St John Henry Newman will be an outstanding Catholic school.”
The focus of this year's Education Sunday is 'enlightening the mind', based on the Gospel acclamation of 11 September, when it will take place. Education Sunday aptly falls on the second Sunday of September just as the new academic year starts and it is one of the oldest Days of Special Prayer in England and Wales. It provides an opportunity to celebrate and give thanks to all involved in making Catholic schools places of enlightenment, as well as to look forward in anticipation of the year ahead.
To help you celebrate, the Catholic Education Service is again providing a range of resources.
The resources include:
- Guidance for schools and parishes
- A prayer card, offering a prayer of thanksgiving for teachers
- A collection of suggested bidding prayers for school Masses
- A letter of recognition by Bishop Marcus Stock
Churches Together in England produces its own resources for Education Sunday.
We wish you a blessed and fruitful Education Sunday!
Pope Francis invites us all to join in the celebration of the World Meeting of Families, which is taking place in Rome on the 22 to 26 June this year. To help your school join in this important celebration, Cardiff Archdiocese have developed the Celebrating Family Love School Assembly resource below.
There is both a primary and secondary version of the assembly, along with a free resource pack to help with your celebrations. This pack includes a range of display materials, ideas and resources to help your school to join in with the World Meeting of Family celebrations.
These animated video assemblies include a range of guest speakers, reflections and prayers, and will be the perfect resource to use with your students to help them to reflect on the theme of family love, and think about what they can do to celebrate family life in the home, school and parish. We encourage you to use them around the 22 to 26 June this year, as the World Meeting of Families celebration is taking place in Rome, and to take photos of any actions you take, and tag them #WMOF22 and #RomeAtHome.
In October 2019 Pope Francis calls us all to renew our missionary commitment through a special month of prayer and action.
Schools are encouraged to join with our worldwide Catholic community to help pupils in their own mission to work and pray together to share God’s love with everyone, everywhere.
For secondary schools, Missio offers a workshop and short reflections to download, focusing on EMM and Christus Vivit. Find these and other secondary materials at https://missio.org.uk/emm-schools-page/
Mission Together, Missio’s children’s branch, has created resources to help primary schools mark this special month, including assemblies, activities and liturgies. These are available to download at https://missiontogether.org.uk/an-extraordinary-month-of-mission/
Missio is the Pope’s charity for world mission.
The Theological and Philosophical faculties, to be known as Mater Ecclesiae College, will open on the 1st October 2019 in its new home at St Mary’s University, Twickenham.
Prior to this move, the Institute was based at Heythrop College which, on the 31st January 2019, ceased to be a college of the University of London.
In July of this year, the Holy See, by a Decree of the Congregation for Catholic Education, transferred the Faculties of Theology and Philosophy from Heythrop College to St Mary’s University with governance being transferred from the Society of Jesus to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.
Mater Ecclesiae College will remain the only faculties in the UK with the ability to confer ecclesiastical degrees – qualifications recognised throughout the Catholic Church.
St Benedict’s Catholic Primary School in Garforth were very honoured to receive a visit from Theresa May, Prime Minister. The visit took place under high security in February as part of a school INSET day. The Prime Minister had a round the table discussion with senior leaders and teachers from the school. She was keen to understand the positives and challenges of the current primary education agenda. Staff took the opportunity to give examples of the challenges in the current system for all teachers as well as celebrate the strengths of St Benedict’s. The visit was a real recognition of the great community of St Benedict’s in its staff, governors, children, parents and the wider community.
Through Mission Together, the children’s branch of Missio, children everywhere live out their mission: to share God’s love with the whole world. In a unique exchange of love and friendship children pray for and share with one another. Pope Francis has made October 2019 an Extraordinary Month of Mission during which he calls us to make a special effort to share God’s love around the world. No one is too young or too small to take part.
To mark this special occasion, Mission Together is inviting children in England and Wales to design a postcard, showing how Mission Together helps children all over the world, by feeding hungry people with food and hope; offering those who are thirsty water and faith and helping people who are sick with medicine and prayers.
The theme of the design is: ‘Our Mission: To Share God’s Love with the Whole World’. The competition is open to all children living in England and Wales aged between 5 and 14.
For information about the competition please visit www.missiontogether.org.uk/pupil-postcard-competition and to find out more about the Extraordinary Month of Mission please go to www.missio.org.uk/emm
In June 80 children from seven schools in Swindon and Malmesbury, Clifton Diocese, gathered together in joyful celebration for a Mission Together Animation Day. The morning was spent with children making friends with one another, engaging in group activities, and reflecting on their role as ‘children helping children’ with Mission Together, the Pope’s official children’s charity for overseas mission.
Through the day children learnt that even though they are all unique individuals, they can make a big difference to building God’s kingdom when they act together and support one another. The Good News Bracelets made by the children, reminded them of the hope and love they bring to other young people around the world who are living in poverty when they pray and share- as Jesus taught.
The sessions were followed by an afternoon Liturgy led by Missio’s National Director, Fr Tony Chantry and Missio’s Diocesan Director for Clifton Diocese, Fr Gary Brassington. The chaplaincy team from local secondary school, St Joseph’s Catholic College, Swindon helped the Liturgy to run smoothly with the addition of their prayers and reflections.
Many congratulations to all the pupils and students for their words of wisdom and thoughtfulness as they carried out their tasks. Thanks also to the staff - teachers and chaplains – who generously gave up their time to help organise the event and who provided inspiration for future Mission Together animation days. Final thanks goes to Holy Cross Catholic Primary School, Swindon for hosting a wonderful day.
At the start of May, Pope Francis encouraged Catholics to pray the Rosary for peace. Around the same time Mission Together, the Holy Father’s official children’s charity for overseas mission, paid a timely visit to St Mary’s Primary School (Batley) to deliver a special assembly. St Mary’s has a long tradition of reciting the Rosary with its pupils in May, a practice fondly remembered by ex-pupil and Mission Together education team member, Claire Colleran.
Claire was delighted to have been invited into her old school at the start of Lent to speak to pupils about Mission Together and how, as children helping children through prayer and giving, they can share in the mission of the Church and deliver God’s love to all people, everywhere, just as Jesus taught us.
Following that assembly, St Mary’s had adopted Mission Together as their Lenten charity and helped raise funds by selling the charity’s Mission Rosaries. Although Mission Together was just one of a number of the school’s Lenten charities, St Mary’s still managed to raise a wonderful £350 to help children living in poverty overseas.
Claire was invited back in to St Mary’s to collect the cheque and to lead a Marian inspired Mission Rosary assembly. Parish priest Fr Eamonn Hegarty came along to bless the children for their efforts to share God’s love with others through their support of Mission Together.
RE Coordinator, Mrs Jennie Blanchfield, said of the visit; ‘The children fully embraced Mission Together and its concept of children helping children. They could see through their prayers and giving that they can make a small change to children's lives all around the world. They were totally committed to collecting as much loose change as possible to put in the Mission Together Boxes.’
Father Eamonn Hegarty added, "Once again the children of St Mary's have shown how generous they are."
Mission Together supports the physical, spiritual, and emotional wellbeing of children around the world. If you’ve been inspired by St Mary’s efforts and would also like to encourage children to help children, contact missiontogether.org.uk to arrange an assembly, or download user friendly assemblies (including the Rosary assembly delivered at St Mary’s) and other resources from our website.