What is the purpose of Chaplaincy in our school?
• “To empower the school community to live as disciples of Jesus Christ in the world today;
• To draw the school community into responsible participation in the life, mission and work of the Church;
• To foster the total personal and spiritual growth of each person in the school community.” [School Ethos and Chaplaincy, Second Edition, David O’Malley]
The role of the Chaplain
Chaplaincy is a very old ministry and nowadays a professional role in many settings such as schools, prisons, hospitals, universities, and military places. The chaplain in the school is a minister of the Church, is also an educator -even though is not involved in formal education, and is a sign of God’s presence in the school community.
The focus of a Chaplain in a school is to promote the Catholic ethos of the school and to assist students and staff in their faith journey. The areas where the Chaplain focuses are spiritual accompaniment, pastoral care, justice/service, advocacy, evangelisation, catechesis, Prayer and Liturgy celebration, leader development and Parish & neighbourhood liaison.
We are very fortunate to have a full-time Lay Chaplain, Ana Gasparini. Ana supports the Catholic Life of the school in numerous ways for example, organising themes of the week, prayers, weekly Masses, start and end of year Masses, staff development, as well as student’s formation.
The chapel is available throughout the day and is situated near the RE rooms. It provides a space where we can take time in the midst of a busy week to reflect upon our lives. We celebrate Mass every Friday in the chapel. During the months of May and October, students voluntary gather at breaktime to pray together a decade of the Rosary. Occasionally, RE classes bring the students to the chapel to learn about the church and its objects, and to spend time in prayer and reflection. The Faith in Action group gather in the chapel each term for Liturgical Prayer.
There is also a small chapel in Emmaus (6th Form) available for students and staff to spend quite time in prayer.
When we pray, we are in conversation with our Father; we have the opportunity to express our emotions, give thanks to God and talk to Him about our problems, yet God speaks to us in the essence of silence.
Students pray in the morning with their subject teacher, before lunch and at the end of the day with their form tutor.
The themes of the prayers are linked to the liturgical calendar, as well as national and international events such as Remembrance, International Women’ Day and Fair Trade.
Prayer during the school year is as follows:
• Beginning of day (theme of the week prayer)
• Form Time (linked to Sunday’s Gospel)
• Grace before meals
• Dedicated prayer to form saint by prayer focus on each classroom.
• Staff prayer before briefing: Prayer binds us as a community and gives us focus for the day ahead. We share in joy and celebration as well as in times of sorrow or anxiety.
• Stations of the Cross: This may be a living representation by the drama department or traditionally in the dedicated area of the quite garden.
• Voluntary Rosary in May and October during break in the chapel
• Individual prayer in the chapel and 6th form chapel
• Weekly Sunday’s Gospel reflection and prayer via email to all Staff
Mass is celebrated in school on a Friday, during lunchtime and is one of the most important events that happens in school each week. The prayers for the Liturgy our prepared by the form group, who then attend the Mass. This is a voluntary Mass where everyone is welcome to attend should they wish.
Whenever a Holy Day of Obligation falls on a school day, we hold a whole school Mass.
We also celebrate Mass at the start and end of the Academic Year, featuring Y7 Welcome Mass, Y11 & Y13 Leavers Masses. Other special Masses may take place such as Staff Mass on Inset days and Holy Reunion Mass for pupils in primary schools receiving the First Holy Communion.
We offer the Sacrament of Reconciliation twice a year at Advent and Lent in readiness for the celebration of Christmas and Easter respectively.
Liturgical Prayer follows structural patterns found in the liturgy and are created for the school community with the purpose of proclaiming the Word of God. The format of Liturgical Prayer is like the Liturgy of the Word at Mass: we gather, we listen to the Scriptures, we respond to the Word of God in different ways, e.g., by praying, singing a hymn, in silence, with actions, listening to a story or even reflecting on an image, and finally, we go forth to spread the Good News to the world.
Liturgical Prayer in school throughout the year:
• Weekly Liturgical Prayer
• Advent Service
• Christmas Carol Service (in the evening and during school time)
• Ash Wednesday Service
• Lent Services
• Holy Week Services –planned and delivered by students.
Pupil involvement in Chaplaincy
The Chaplaincy Team is currently being restructured; we are looking at stablishing a Youth SVP group led by our Sixth Formers.
At present, a group of students from KS3 is taking part in the Faith in Action Award. Y12 runs twice a year the SVP Afternoon Tea for the residents and Parishioners from the local Churches. They also prepare Christmas Hampers for the sick and vulnerable.
New groups are being created to work around the themes of the Catholic Social Teachings, such as Eco-Justice, Anti-Bullying, Fair Trade, Charity Events and Sustainable groups.
The school will soon have Catholic Life Leaders as well as Prayer and Liturgy Leaders.