Growing in love for God and those around us
The Sacramental Life of the Church is central to our life in school. Through daily collective worship and the regular celebration of Mass we are able to reflect upon our own lives and our relationships with God and others around us. Our lives, our friendships and our relationship with God grows and is strengthened through prayer and the celebration of the sacraments.
Prayer sets the tone for our day in school. We gather together, either as year groups or form groups, in prayer each morning. Our prayer themes follow the liturgical life of the Church and reflect the need to pray for certain people and situations in our world today. The students take an active role in preparing and leading our morning prayer. Whilst this time of prayer reflects our distinctive Catholic nature it is inclusive of all students from all faith backgrounds who are part of our school community.
Special days of prayer take place throughout the year. October and May are dedicated to Our Lady and the Rosary is prayed each break time in honour of Our Lady and in recognition of our need for her prayer in our lives.
The celebration of Mass takes place regularly throughout our school year. Each year begins with a Welcome Mass for each year group. Mass is celebrated each week in our school chapel with different form groups taking turns in leading our celebration. Mass is offered to students on Holy Days of Obligation. The highlight of our school year is the celebration of our Patronal Feast Days; St Joseph on March 19th, St Bede on May 25th and the Feast of St Benedict on July 11th. The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord on February 2nd marks the annual celebration of the opening of our new school and reminds us of our school motto – Christus Lumen Gentium – Christ the Light of the Nations.
We take time in both Advent and Lent to reflect upon our own lives, to celebrate all that is good in them and provide students with the opportunity to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Our School Chapels
“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them." (Matthew 18:20)
We have three chapels situated in the heart of each of our school buildings. Each Chapel is open to all students and staff at all times. The Blessed Sacrament is reserved in each of the chapels. The space provides us all with a place for quiet and peaceful contemplation and prayer.
Our chapels are used for:
- Morning Prayer of the Church each Friday at 8:35am
- Weekly Mass lead by a nominated Form
- The celebration of whole school Masses and Feast Days
- A place for students to go when they are struggling
- Provision during exams and times of stress
- Special services
The Lourdes Pilgrimage
Each year groups of around 100 pilgrims from St. Bede’s and St Joseph’s, made up of Year 10 and Year 12 students, make an annual pilgrimage to Lourdes. Our Year 10 boys have been taking part in the pilgrimage with the Society of Our Lady of Lourdes since 1988. The Year 10 girls and the Year 12 students from St Benedict’shave been taking part in the Leeds Diocese Lourdes Pilgrimage for 30 years.
Lourdes is a small town set in the foothills of the French Pyrenees, where in 1858 Our Blessed Lady appeared to the young Bernadette Soubirous. The first apparition took place on 11 February 1858 while Bernadette was collecting firewood with her sister and friend. There followed 17 more apparitions between February and June of that year.
Each year, we join together with those who are in poor health. Indeed, the sick and less able pilgrims are at the very heart of our experience in Lourdes as we celebrate, worship and pray together. 400 young pilgrims from Diocesan schools and colleges come to share their faith and provide enthusiastic and energetic support to dependent pilgrims. These young people are themselves cared for and encouraged by teachers, assistants, clergy and chaplains.
The annual Lourdes Pilgrimage provides a unique opportunity to gather as a diocese with the Bishop to pray and journey in faith.
Each year, there is a pastoral theme for the pilgrimage.
The pastoral theme for 2016 is:
“Merciful like the Father”
This is a reflection written by the Year 10 students who went to Lourdes in July 2016
Year 10 Lourdes Reflection – End of Term Service
Before we went to Lourdes, many of us were really quite nervous and not sure what to expect. Some of us thought it would be too holy, praying all the time. Some of us were worried because we weren’t going with our closest friends. We had no idea how to push wheelchairs or how we would get along with sick pilgrims. Would we be able to make a difference? Would we spend the whole time working and looking after people and not get anything out of it ourselves?
We had heard it would be life changing but we weren’t sure how that would be possible. Within a very short space of time we realised that our hesitations and fears were based on nothing. For each of us, in our different ways, Lourdes has been by far the most memorable and life changing thing we have ever done.
There are so many highlights and memories from our time in Lourdes. Not only have we grown as a school group and made friends with people in our own school community who we have never really spoken to, we also very quickly made lots of friends with people from different schools across our diocese. We had to remind ourselves when we came home that we were no longer in Lourdes. Lourdes is one of the friendliest and happiest places we have ever been to – you find yourself talking, smiling and laughing with complete strangers and it doesn’t feel awkward at all. It’s not quite the same back in Bradford saying hello to a complete stranger in the street! However, many of us are trying to bring the joy of Lourdes to Bradford by continuing to do this.
We certainly needn’t have worried about caring for and getting to know our pilgrims. Mrs Clarke and Mr O’Donnell helped us in the early days and we were grateful to them, but very quickly the best friendships were made with our pilgrims. We learnt so much about how important and fulfilling it is to serve those in need but more than anything we appreciated how much more the pilgrims gave to us than we could have ever given to them. Their faith and importance of it to them helped us to have more faith and believe in God more ourselves. The pilgrims taught us to appreciate what we have and to never take anything for granted. We loved going to meet them each day and seeing their smiling faces.
They made us laugh and taught us about how important it is to not judge someone on appearance. It was really special to know that everything we did, however small, was helping somebody in some way.
The most moving moment we shared with our pilgrims was at the Mass of Anointing; during this mass, we were able to be with our pilgrim as they received the sacrament. It made us realise the depth of their faith; that through the sacrament and coming to Lourdes, they would receive the grace of God and spiritual healing.
Whilst in Lourdes, we did go to Mass a lot and pray a lot; but these moments were highlights for us. They gave us time to reflect on our lives and through them we have grown in faith. It’s amazing to see all the different people from across the world coming together to celebrate mass. We loved singing and praying in different languages; it made us realise that our Catholic faith is something to be proud of and celebrated. Our faith is not something we should hide, but something that we should allow the whole world to see.
One of the best things we were part of was the torchlight procession. We actually loved praying the rosary; you could feel God and it’s the closest to heaven we think you could ever feel. Many of us were really anxious about going in the baths but Miss Brooks convinced us that it was really a once in a lifetime opportunity and she was not wrong. It was something that our whole group chose to experience. It’s hard to put into words and do justice to this experience, but it was a moment when we felt God’s love and came out feeling refreshed, renewed and reborn.
When you are given the chance to go to Lourdes, grab the opportunity with both hands. We have changed as people and have so many amazing memories. It will challenge you in so many ways, but it is the most rewarding and remarkable experience you can have. We will never forget our time in Lourdes.
To end, we’d like to share our funniest Lourdes story with you. Mr O’Donnell came marching around one morning, banging on our doors telling us to get out of bed and get down for breakfast. We opened our doors and he was standing in his pyjamas and had not brushed his hair. We informed him that we had been down for breakfast an hour ago and that he had slept in. Mr O’Donnell wasn’t using French time. He turned and waddled back to his bedroom, upset he had missed his daily coffee and croissant… Mr O’Donnell, we are still waiting for your apology.
Here is a presentation that hopeful captures our time in Lourdes.
Every year each student in the school is given the opportunity to go on retreat. The purpose of a retreat is to give the students some time out of school to focus on three things:
1. Getting to know themselves better
2. Building lasting friendships
3. Growing in their faith and relationship with God
Two forms at a time go on a 24 hour retreat camp to Pateley Bridge. The main focus of this retreat is ‘New Beginnings’.
Year 8 are offered a 3 day retreat to the Youth Village in Consett, Durham. The Youth Village is a purpose built retreat centre for young people that was established by Dermott Donnelly, brother of Declan Donnelly! This retreat focuses on how we might come to recognise God and His presence in our lives.
Year 9 are offered a 3 day retreat to Ampleforth Abbey in North Yorkshire. Our students have been coming to Ampleforth for many years and are led by Fr Bede, a Benedictine Monk from the Abbey. The focus of this retreat is ‘Growing in the Spirit’. As students prepare to begin their GCSE studies they reflect upon their gifts and talents and consider who God is calling them to be in life.
Students in Year 10 are given the opportunity to put their faith in to action and are invited to take part in the Pilgrimage to Lourdes. Each year, we join together with those who are in poor health. Indeed, the sick and less able pilgrims are at the very heart of our experience in Lourdes as we celebrate, worship and pray together. 400 young pilgrims from Diocesan schools and colleges come to share their faith and provide enthusiastic and energetic support to dependent pilgrims.
For the last two years Year 11 have returned to Ampleforth Abbey for their annual retreat. Two years on from the last time they were there they appreciate reliving fabulous memories and re connecting with Fr Bede. The focus of their retreat has also moved on as they begin to look at the bigger and much deeper challenging questions that they have about life, relationships and faith.
Year 11 Ampleforth Retreat, October 2016, Post Communion Reflection
When we were first presented with the opportunity of coming to Ampleforth everyone was interested in coming; although not fully for the right reasons. Most of us believed that it was an escape from the tough lessons and preparation for the exams. It was a trip that we initially decided to go on so that we could just have a bit of fun and a laugh with the lads.
However, it became something that none of us expected it to be. Our retreat went from being a way to get out of school to something that has really meant so much to each and every one of us and will continue to have an effect on our lives in good times and bad.
We have learnt many life lessons from Fr Bede and we are eternally grateful for everything he has taught us and for the experience we have had here at Ampleforth. From the way he has so honestly answered our questions, shared with us an insight into his life as a monk, challenged us to think from the heart rather than the head and the stories he has told us about the inspiring people he has met in his life – Fr Bede all we can say is that we have never met a man with a presence and honesty like yours. You are welcome to come to St Bede’s anytime!!
Fr Bede we would like to say on behalf of everyone here that you are an extremely special man who we will never ever forget about. You have helped to set us on a path that hopefully will lead us to finding God and finding ourselves and who we truly are. Fr Bede because of you we have realised that it is ok to take off our masks, be comfortable with who we are and take responsibility for what we do. We no longer feel right having the scapegoat mentality and for that we are thankful.
Ampleforth has nurtured a seed in us that will hopefully help us to grow in love with God and those around us.
Our students are offered numerous retreat opportunities during their time in St Benedict’s Sixth Form to help them as they prepare to leave our school. Each opportunity gives them time to look back at their time in school and look forward to their calling beyond school life.