At 6:15am on Friday 10th March, a dedicated group of 17 students boarded a coach to London for the Flame trip. Along with our friends from Cardinal Allen School, Fleetwood, we made the long journey down to our Capitol City for an intensive 2 days of sightseeing and attending the Flame Youth Congress in Wembley Arena. Mr Conway expertly led the group around all the sights of London, informing us of the history of many great monuments and buildings . Our tour included a visit to St Paul’s Cathedral, the Natural History Museum and an evening walk past the Houses of Parliament, the River Thames & London Eye and Buckingham Palace. We were all worn out after a long day of travelling and exploring, and the burger at Planet Hollywood for dinner was welcome reward!
Our day on Saturday was spent in Wembley Arena for the Flame Congress. We joined 10,000 other young people in the arena, and the atmosphere was electric! We heard from many great speakers, including Cardinal Bo from Myanmar (Burma), who spoke of the difficulties his country is having with the birth of democracy, civil war and the persecution of minority groups. He reminded us of the power of hope in the face of difficult times, and to remember to value our diversity. We also heard from Fr Augusto from CAFOD, who shared his story and his memories of Pope Francis with us and told us of the importance of listening to the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor. Rise theatre performed some moving drama pieces, including a story of hope told from inside a real boat that had carried 32 refugees to safety, and award- winning musician Matt Redman performed many of his songs in between the speakers and during our time of prayer. It was a wonderful, uplifting and inspiring trip. We hope the lessons learned will encourage our students to continue helping others & share the important messages we heard with others.
A wonderful group of 28 Y11 students kicked off Lent in style with a retreat to Castlerigg Manor. We were there for Shrove Tuesday (and were treated to lots of tasty pancakes!) and Ash Wednesday, where we were joined by Bishop Campbell for a reconciliation service and the distribution of Ashes. Bishop Campbell also stayed with us on Thursday: watching our dramas, answering questions in “grill the Priest” and treating us to a personal reading of his Pastoral Letter for Lent at the end of our Mass.
The week was the perfect opportunity for our students to “get away from it all” and have the time out to reflect on the important few months ahead of them, with GCSEs and beyond into their future. Our staff and the Castlerigg team were impressed by our students’ maturity and creativity, and the fantastic response they gave to each activity: never has it been such a challenge to persuade some of them to leave the quiet sanctuary of the Chapel and go to bed! Thanks to a great group of students for engaging so well with every opportunity for both fun and reflection, and to the wonderful Castlerigg team for leading us in such an honest, open and authentic way!
Fairtrade Fortnight took place from February 27th - March 10th and St. Mary’s have been presenting the staff and students with various treats, all while taking them on a mini break around the world. Students had the chance to get their Fairtrade passport stamped for each different place they have been taken to.
To open the two weeks, the Chaplaincy Team held a Tiki Juice Bar, with Fairtrade ingredients from Latin America. The students were offered a drink for 50p with a choice of Traditional Handmade Lemonade, St. Mary’s Ice Tea, Strawberry Fizz and Appleade. The Juice Bar was a hit and set up the theme nicely to create excitement over what was to come next.
We then had hot drinks on offer; Fairtrade tea, hot chocolate and fudge hot chocolate. A drink on it’s own was 60p or you could have a hot drink and two fair break biscuits for £1. We offered this trip to West Africa - where Fairtrade chocolate is found at break in the Deli Bar. This offer ran for two days as well as selling all of our regular Fairtrade products.
Continuing in West Africa, we held a chocolate fountain with Fairtrade chocolate and the students had the opportunity to dip in skewers of marshmellows, strawberries and banana for £1 per skewer. This was a clear success with the students and the Chaplaincy team even got a little taste at the end!
To end Fairtrade Fortnight, we gave the staff a treat to Fairtrade tea and coffee with a Fairtrade chocolatey product, or fruit for those good people who have given up chocolate for Lent. Debs and Margaret, the angels who usually prep for staff brews at break time were given their own break as we took over to highlight to the staff what Fairtrade products are available in shops and a taste of a good brew and a proper coffee.
Personally, I have loved Fairtrade Fortnight and the efforts of the whole team, particularly Sarah, have paid off as we managed to draw attention to the Fairtrade Foundation and generate some attention and the chance to offer students something different. Remember we sell Fairtrade products at break everyday! What’s your favourite?