St. Mary's Chaplaincy

Year 3 Mass at Christ The King

Year 3 Mass at Christ The King
On Thursday of last week, our students prepared themselves to celebrate our annual Y3 Mass. As with every year, the choir were ready to sing and our Y9 volunteers prepared to guide and look after our visitors, but this year was different: we had a special guest. 

The Blackpool Family of Catholic Schools were proud to welcome Bishop Paul Swarbrick to celebrate this very special Mass, along with many other Priests of the Deanery. Fresh from their first holy communion, around 280 Y3 children gathered together for this very special occasion, the first time the Bishop had come to visit us since he was consecrated Bishop just after Easter. 

During his Homily, Bishop Paul spoke to us about the importance of getting along with each other. He told us that little things can very easily become big things. As it was the first anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire, Bishop Paul used the analogy of a fire to demonstrate this: just as how it only takes a spark to create a fire, a nasty word or a small argument can grow beyond all control. He also spoke to the children about the Mass - he encouraged them to remember that the Mass is important to us because the Mass was important to Jesus. 

Every school played a vital part in the Mass, taking on responsibility for things like the readings and the prayers, and of course there was lots of fantastic singing. It really was a very wonderful and special occasion for all gathered. 
After the Mass, we all shared a picnic lunch together, including Bishop Paul, before heading back to our schools and Churches. Everyone gathered was given a prayer card to keep as a reminder of this special occasion. A fantastic day for all.

International Refugee Day

International Refugee Day photo on Blackpool Promenade

On the 20th June 2018, International Refugee Day over 60 people gathered together to join in with Share the Journey campaign launched by Pope Francis to show support to people on the move. ‘Hope is the desire to share the journey of life, as the Caritas campaign reminds us. Brothers and sisters, do not be afraid to share the journey! Do not be afraid to share hope!’ said the Pope encouraging us all to take action.

That’s exactly what we did! Not even the wind and the rain stopped the joined forces of St Mary’s Academy Student Council, Christ the King Primary Academy and Holy Family Primary School and some determined local parishioners in completing a walk to show their solidarity and support for migrants and refugees.  During our walk we laughed, sang, prayed but also heard five stories, four of refugee children CAFOD works with as well as heard a story of Lampedusa cross, a cross made out of a ship wreck - real life proof that not all who leave get to safety.

We took some serious steps to play our part adding 213.5 miles (a distance from Blackpool to Bristol!) to CAFODS’ goal of walking the distance around the Earth – 24,900 miles. Our commitment to walk the world will show world leaders meeting for crucial discussions in September how much it matters to all of us that refugees and migrants are treated with dignity and respect.

Massive thank you to everyone who got involved!

Aleks aka CAFOD Gapper.

Installation of Bishop Paul Swarbrick

Bishop Paul's Episcopal Ordination
On Monday 9th April, four very lucky members of the St. Mary’s community were fortunate to attend the episcopal ordination of our new Bishop, Bishop Paul Swarbrick. Bishop Swarbrick was formerly the chaplain to St. Mary’s, and we felt honoured and privileged to be among the congregation at the service.

Mr. Eccles and Miss Smith were joined by Eddie Loy (Y7) and Jane Schwab (Y8) for the installation, which lasted a mega 2 hours 15 mins! Although it sounds long, the Mass completely flew by, as we were all wrapped up with the excitement of participating in such a special event. The Cathedral was filled with wonderful music and singing, as well as more Priests and Bishops than Miss Smith has ever seen gathered in one place! The ceremony of handing on the ministry from Bishop Campbell to Bishop Swarbrick was incredibly powerful, as was witnessing all of his fellow Bishops lay hands on and pray for our new Bishop at the very start of his ministry.

To finish the Mass, Bishop Swarbrick addressed us all for the first time. His speech was full of humour, faith and the promise of a fantastic 15 years ahead until his retirement! He even had time to pause for a photo with us at the end, even though he was surrounded by a whole crowd of parishioners and family wishing him well for the future.

All in all, it was a wonderful day filled with memories that all of us who attended will remember fondly for a long time to come.

 

Aleks' Nicaragua Blog

Gappers and staff of Mary Barreda Association

CAFOD “Gapper” Aleks Adamczyk shares about the time she spent with the Mary Barreda Associaltion in Nicaragua.

How did the torture and killing of a married couple lead to eight thousand Nicaraguan children, teenagers and women being helped every year to stay safe, free from violence and exploitation?

Inspired by Mary Barreda and her husband Felipe, who during their lives responded to God’s call to serve the most vulnerable people in their community, the Mary Barreda Association was founded almost 30 years ago by three women who have carried on this legacy.

Mary Barreda Association works on the prevention and special protection in the areas of domestic and sexual violence, commercial sexual exploitation, high risk child labour, prostitution and HIV.

Arriving at the Mary Barreda centre 

When you arrive, the building is not hidden away, but nor is it advertised. You can’t see any banners, posters or leaflets outside. I come to understand later on that this is for the protection of the people they serve.

We’re welcomed by Rosa Maria, the director of the centre. She’s incredibly warm and, in a grandma-like manner, beckons us inside where she hugs us all individually asking our names. It is tiny gestures like this that make us feel special and wanted there.

How many women and children walked through those doors and have been made to feel safe here, I still ask myself. The Association is somewhere they know they will experience kindness, warmth, trust and equality and where they will not be judged. They are given time, space and attention by people who care for them.

Learning more about the project

There are psychologists, lawyers, doctors, nurses and social workers on site who do their very best to ensure that every child, teenager and woman is listened to and given the support they need to face the troubling situations they’re currently in.

If CAFOD’s support for this partner were limited to helping them write gender policies and provide accountancy training for the office staff, that would be a lot, because this strengthens the whole organisation, making it run more easily. But it’s far more than that. What Mary Barreda Association does is transformational.

CAFOD supports a three-year programme that helps young women who are survivors of sexual exploitation. Through the project, the young women grow in dignity. They learn that decisions about their lives and work are theirs to make. They are empowered.

They receive vocational training which gives them practical skills qualifying them as hairdressers or beauticians and supports them to get set up in work. Because of the support they receive, some of the young women want to go to university and, on the day we visited, two of them received confirmation emails of their places.

Looking towards the future

I came away from this day with a head full of thoughts. I couldn’t put into words how I felt. I felt the pain of some of the women myself, and pain for the staff at having to deal with situations that no one should ever have to deal with.

But Mary Barreda Association allowed me to see the hope that the project gives:  that, with years of hard work and the dedication of the incredible staff, people’s lives can and do change. For me, Mary Barreda Association has shown me the hand of God, reaching out to people who haven’t had the easiest of starts. This fills me with great hope.