‘Whatever you do for the least of these brothers of mine, you do for me.’
During the Year of Mercy, the pupils and staff at St Gregory’s thoroughly enjoyed growing in love and compassion and so we decided to continue to practise what we learned. In November 2016, Bishop Peter celebrated a Mass for us and blessed our hands so that we might carry out this work and help others to see what it means to ‘Walk Together in the Light of the Lord’.
Our experience of the Year of Mercy led us to allocate each year group with a special mission to carry out throughout the academic year with the aim that our children would recognise and care for the people in their local community, especially those who are vulnerable and in need of love and compassion.
Our Foundation Stage children focus on building a relationship with the elderly in our community by visiting Eleanore House, a local residential home. In the book of Leviticus (19:32), we are told to: ‘rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly.’ This mission has proved to build some wonderful relationships between our pupils and their new friends.
Year 1 work with Mission Together, which has been the Diocesan charity in previous years. The children met with Fr Wayne Coghlin, giving him the money they raised during Lent, as well as asking him lots of questions about the charity’s work. Pope Francis tells us: ‘The Christian Mission has only one focus: to change individuals’ lives so they can change the world.’
Our Year 2 children have the role of prayer buddies. They write prayers and pray for different intentions each month. We hope to create a prayer resource to share with our wider school community. The children will do this because in the Gospel of Mark (Mark 11:24) Jesus says: ‘I tell you therefore: everything you ask and pray for, believe that you have it, already, and it will be yours’.
Our Year 4 children are commissioned as Mini Vinnies; this is a section of the Saint Vincent De Paul society. Their mission is to put their faith in action and ‘See, Think, Do’ because in John’s Gospel, Jesus says: ‘Love one another as I have loved you.’
So far this academic year, our Mini Vinnies have been working to be more present in our local community. In September, a number of representatives from our school celebrated St Vincent De Paul’s feast day at Mass at Sacred Heart, where they met with representatives from the conference there and also with Fr Jerry. During Advent, several of our Mini Vinnies helped to host a number of SVP members from our local parishes at Thomas Becket Catholic School for an afternoon of carols, mince pies and cups of tea. They have met with Alec Jewell – the Youth SVP Officer – who visited St Gregory’s recently and enjoyed sharing their ideas with him about future projects.
You can find out more about the Mini Vinnies on http://www.minivinnies.org.uk/.
Our Year 5 children are working to raise awareness of how to promote positive mental health amongst each other and those they know. They have taken their inspiration from St Paul (1 Thessalonians 5:11): ‘Therefore encourage one another and build each other up’. The children have read the book, ‘You Are Awesome’ by Matthew Syed and have worked to develop a growth mindset. During Children’s Mental Health Week in February, the children have focused on ‘Find Your Brave’, the national theme for 2020. A group of ten pupils from Year 5 will also be completing training with Pacesetter Sports and Wellbeing to become Magnificent Mind Ambassadors for our school.
This academic year, our Year 6 children are caring for those who are in prison. Pope Francis teaches ‘Blessed are those who see God in every person.’ This Christmas they will be listening to a talk from Fr Sean Healy about his work in a young offender’s prison and the children will then make prayer cards for Fr Sean to take in to the inmates. Year 6 will continue to pray for all those in prison throughout the year. They will do this because Pope Francis said: ‘Blessed are those who see God in every person’.
These projects are just one way the children of St Gregory’s are learning about social responsibility and walking in the light of the Lord. We would really appreciate it if you would support your child by discussing it with them and encouraging them. Equally, if you are involved in any charities or special projects we could be involved with, we would love to hear from you and support you in any way we can.
“Our school helps me to know Jesus and to be part of the Body of Christ.” – Sienna, June 2019.