School News (123)
Only five weeks remain for submissions to the 2023 Schools Competition of the Columban Missionaries in Britain – this year’s contest is titled Building Peaceful Futures, with the deadline for entries being 10 February.
The competition, which launched last September, is aimed at students aged 13-18 years old, who are invited to demonstrate an awareness of conflict and peacemaking in the world through either a written article or an original image. Students are being asked to research and spotlight people, communities and / or organisations trying to make the world a better place.
On 5 December Pope Francis tweeted: “The Word of God plunges us into daily life and calls us to listen to the cry of the poor and to heed the violence and injustice that wound our world. It challenges Christians not to be indifferent, but to be active, creative and prophetic.”
One of the competition judges is Columban Justice and Peace Education Worker in Britain, James Trewby, who visits young people in schools and sixth forms and runs workshops, retreats and assemblies to promote justice, peace and the integrity of creation.
He said: “There is much conflict in the world at the moment, but we mustn’t lose sight of the fact there are also many initiatives designed to build bridges and promote peace too! The Columbans are keen to nurture the student voice and provide an opportunity for young people to explore these areas and determine their own thoughts on conflict and whether it is inevitable. Besides this we want to ascertain young people’s understanding of peacebuilding, how and where it’s taking place and how faith can play a part.”
The competition winners will receive cash prizes worth up to £300, with other judges including journalists such as Ruth Gledhill of The Tablet and Josephine Siedlecka of Independent Catholic News. Winning entries will be published in the Columbans’ Far East magazine, Vocation for Justice newsletter, Columban websites and social media and in other Catholic media.
A core aspect of Columban mission is justice, peace and ecology. Besides being members of Pax Christi International, the Catholic Church’s peace organisation, Columbans also support the National Justice and Peace Network of England and Wales. Irish Columban Fr Pat Cunningham, who works in South Korea and is also a judge, is active with the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative and a campaign in Korea to protest the militarisation of the beautiful Korean island of Jeju.
Another judge, Fr Kurt Zion Pala, is a Filipino Columban priest working in Myanmar, a country ruled by a military dictatorship. He particularly mentors young people in environmental education and action.
Teachers and students will find the Columban Competition website a useful resource. It includes information on the theme, an introductory video, examples of Columbans and others dedicated to building peace throughout the world, as well as Catholic Social Teaching on the theme of peace. There are also details on submission of entries and a helpful FAQ page. The website provides material suitable for students, teachers and parents.
This is the sixth annual such schools competition from the Columban Missionaries in Britain, with previous themes including migrants, climate change, racism, throwaway culture and 21st century changemakers.
Paul Barber, Director of the CES said, "We are disappointed that the Government hasn't proceeded with the Schools Bill in it's current form. It would have provided a clear message from Government that Church schools are an important part of the school system as schools move towards a multi-academy trust model.
"The Schools Bill would have provided legislative protections for Church schools which currently exist in the maintained sector but are not currently in legislation for academies.
"We welcome the assurances from the Secretary of State for Education that the Government is committed to legislating to provide equivalent statutory protections for academies with a religious character as exist for maintained schools in the areas of governance, RE and collective worship and land."
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