Year of Mercy
The Year of Mercy is in full swing at St Bernadette’s! The beginning of the Jubilee Year was marked in school with our annual Carol Service; the theme of this year’s service was Welcome the Stranger and the service encouraged congregants to consider the plight of refugees and the need for mercy in our world through the telling of the Christmas story from the perspective of the Holy Family. Over 300 pupils contributed to the service through the making of banners and decorations, preparing the hall, acting as ushers as well as reading and performing or taking part in one of the two choirs. The event was well attended by families and friends of the school and we received much in the way of positive feedback, including some touching comments posted on social media.
At the Holy Father’s request, within each diocese there is to be one designated ‘Door of Mercy’; we have decided that every classroom and office door at St Bernadette’s is to be a door of mercy. Posters have been placed on each door with both the logo for the Year of Mercy and a thought, prayer or reflection. Our Junior Chaplaincy team worked with the lay chaplain to design the posters and select the reflections and each term they rotate them around. These Year of Mercy quotes are also included in the weekly prayers that are distributed by the lay chaplain.
Key to the Year of Mercy are the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy. As a school we have decided to focus on the Corporal Works of Mercy through charitable work. Each term will have a focus on one of the Works of Mercy in which we will aim to put into practice in our daily lives. This term we have focussed on Feeding the Hungry and we are currently collecting food items to donate to a local foodbank, the Matthew Tree Project, that supports vulnerable members of our local community in South Bristol. Pupils have really risen to the challenge; we have collected over 500 food items and are able to make a significant contribution to the Matthew Tree Project. Next term we will focus on Giving Drink to the Thirsty and over the term we aim to raise £750 to provide access to clean water for a community in the developing world.
During Lent we intend to hold a whole school reconciliation day; each Year group will take part in a short reconciliation service in the morning and pupils will have the opportunity to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation in the afternoon. In addition to showing others mercy, we believe that it is important for pupils to be able to experience God’s mercy through the Sacrament.
In his recent encyclical Laudato Si’, Pope Francis highlighted the need for mercy to be shown to the earth and its finite resources. Pope Francis speaks openly about the devastating effects of climate change on people and the planet. He says that climate change is real, urgent and it must be tackled. He also describes the climate as "a common good, belonging to all and meant for all". To respond to the Holy Father’s words in Laudato Si’ we will invite pupils to make a pledge for climate change. We intend to give each pupil a heart, to symbolise creation’s need for love, upon which they will be invited to write their pledge. This will take place as part of our collective worship programme and pupils’ pledges will be displayed in school. Our Year 10 Cafod Young Volunteers have already started to introduce Laudato Si’ to pupils and staff and have planned, prepared and presented assemblies about the encyclical and the issue of climate change.
In the lower school, the Year of Mercy is the main theme of activities prepared for our Junior Chaplaincy group. They are currently working on ‘mercy tapestries’ in which they are selecting key words and passages from scripture and weaving them through a picture. From this we hope to work with them to enable them to plan and lead an assembly on the theme of God’s mercy as shown in the Scriptures.
The Jubilee Year is a wonderful opportunity to engage all members of our school community in the Catholic life of the school. As we are sure you can see there is a tremendous amount going on and we have no doubt that our collective efforts this year will strengthen us as a community of faith and learning.
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