St. Mary's Chaplaincy
On Saturday 8th September, an enthusiastic group of students set out on an adventure to Liverpool to take part in the Adoremus National Youth Congress. Nearly 1,000 young people gathered in the Echo convention centre for a day of music, drama, talks and workshops on the theme of “Eucharist.” Guest speakers included Archbishop Vincent Nicholls and Katie Prejean (who came all the way from America) and testimonies from young adults who talked about their faith. We even heard a special letter that had been written to us on behalf of the Pope! To top it all off, the whole event was recorded for BBC Radio 4 and broadcast on Sunday morning. The day was part of a wider programme that ran across Liverpool for the whole weekend and finished with a huge procession through Liverpool. This was an event unlike anything seen in the UK for a long time: the last National Eucharistic Congress took place in 1908. It was a pleasure and a privilege to be part of such a historic event, and our student representatives did us very proud!
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.
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.