Category Archives: Uncategorized

Synod Summary

From Joe Harrison (revised 17 December 2021)

On October 10th Pope Francis opened a two-year process of synodality. The aim is to consult with the whole Church including laity, religious and ordained in how it can become more inclusive of all sections and open in its governance. This is the first time that such a wide-ranging gathering of views from the whole Church has ever been undertaken.

This is to be a spiritual process grounded in prayer to the Holy Spirit for guidance. It is not a forum for complaints or a way in which to air narrow personal opinions.

In order to be genuine and credible it is imperative to take soundings from every section of the Church Body. This is to be completed in the two-year period from November 2021 -November 2023.

The initial phase is confined to each individual Diocese. In our case final results will be reported to Bishops Conference of England and Wales. This is targeted to be completed by April 2022. In order to fulfil this requirement Plymouth Diocese wishes to consult at Parish level in Advent with late January as the very latest reporting date.

What are we asked to reflect on?

There are ten primary themes which underpin the different aspects of an active and lived synodality. (Journeying together as members of the Church)

1.Journeying Companions

2. Listening

3. Speaking out

4. Celebrating

5.Coresponsibility in Mission

6. Dialogue in Church and Society

7. Dialogue with other Christians

8. Authority and Participation

9. Discernment

10. Forming genuine synodality.

Our Diocese of Plymouth have suggested we focus on four generic areas that encompass many of the ten facets listed. They are:

Listen, Mission, Celebrate and Dream.

In each of these areas they have identified key questions as guidance to our discussions.

Listen:

How do I listen to God? How do I listen to others?

How does our Parish listen to others? How does our Parish listen to God?

How do we as a Church listen to others? How do we as a Church listen to others outside of the Church?

Mission:

What is my personal mission?

What is the mission of my Parish community?

What is the mission of the whole Church?

Celebrate:

How do I celebrate the presence of God in His Word and in the Sacrements?

How does my Parish celebrate the Word and the Sacrements?

How does the wider Church celebrate journeying together?

Dream:

What is God’s dream for me?

What is God’s dream for our Parish?

What is God’s dream for the wider Church/ whole world?

This is not a checklist of questions to be answered but prompts for our discernment and prayerful consideration.

Timetable:

In order to enable the Diocese to report the feedback from all the Parishes in April 2022 to the Bishop’s conference we need to complete our soundings during Advent and early January.

The remaining plan is to hold future meetings as follows:

Axminster at 9.45am after Mass on 19th December.

Lyme at 11.45 am after Mass on 19th December.

All gatherings to be held in Church within Covid guidelines.

Supplementary to this we are offering one last Zoom meeting in December.   This will be on Tuesday 21st December at 2.30 pm.  There is an open invitation to these gatherings to all parishioners from the three churches. Please contact Joe Harrison on 07566 225665 for the Zoom link or refer to the most recent newsletter. The future dates/times/ frequency of these gatherings will be adjusted according to demand and will be listed in the weekly newsletter and on the Parish website.

It is hoped to engage with as many of the faithful as possible in the process. Members can join one or more gatherings in any of the formats to suit needs.

It is possible to arrange documentary individual contributions by post for those who prefer this method. The significant information from all formats will be recorded totally anonymously by the attending Facilitator at gatherings.

At its heart this is a prayerful process where we respectfully listen to the Holy Spirit as he speaks through our fellow travellers.

We look forward to engaging with you on this exciting journey.

Please pray for the success of the Synod in our Parish.

God bless.

The Parish Synod Facilitators:

Peter Porteous, Jane Godfrey, Monica Watts-Hunt and Joe Harrison.

Paperwork in support of synodial consultation process:

Listening    Themes for Reflection 

Mission     Themes for Reflection

Celebrating     Themes for Reflection

Dream     Themes for Reflection

Feedback sheets:

Listening

Mission

Celebrating

Dream

Address by The Holy Father Pope Francis on the opening of the Synod 9 October 2021

Austen Ivereigh gives a useful account here

Address by Pope Francis

Dear brothers and sisters,

Thank you for being here for the opening of the Synod.  You have come by many different roads and from different Churches, each bearing your own questions and hopes.  I am certain the Spirit will guide us and give us the grace to move forward together, to listen to one another and to embark on a discernment of the times in which we are living, in solidarity with the struggles and aspirations of all humanity.  I want to say again that the Synod is not a parliament or an opinion poll; the Synod is an ecclesial event and its protagonist is the Holy Spirit.  If the Spirit is not present, there will be no Synod.

May we experience this Synod in the spirit of Jesus’ fervent prayer to the Father on behalf of his disciples: “that they may all be one” (Jn 17:21).  This is what we are called to: unity, communion, the fraternity born of the realization that all of us are embraced by the one love of God.  All of us, without distinction, and in particular those of us who are bishops.  As Saint Cyprian wrote: “We must maintain and firmly uphold this unity, above all ourselves, the bishops who preside in the Church, in order to demonstrate that the episcopate is itself one and undivided” (De Ecclesiae Catholicae Unitate, 5).  In the one People of God, therefore, let us journey together, in order to experience a Church that receives and lives this gift of unity, and is open to the voice of the Spirit.

The Synod has three key words: communion, participation and mission.  Communion and mission are theological terms describing the mystery of the Church, which we do well to keep in mind. The Second Vatican Council clearly taught that communion expresses the very nature of the Church, while pointing out that the Church has received “the mission of proclaiming and establishing among all peoples the kingdom of Christ and of God, and is, on earth, the seed and beginning of that kingdom” (Lumen Gentium, 5).  With those two words, the Church contemplates and imitates the life of the Blessed Trinity, a mystery of communion ad intra and the source of mission ad extra.  In the wake of the doctrinal, theological and pastoral reflections that were part of the reception of Vatican II, Saint Paul VI sought to distil in those two words – communion and mission – “the main lines enunciated by the Council”.  Commemorating the opening of the Council, he stated that its main lines were in fact “communion, that is, cohesion and interior fullness, in grace, truth and collaboration… and mission, that is, apostolic commitment to the world of today” (Angelus of 11 October 1970), which is not the same as proselytism.

In 1985, at the conclusion of the Synod marking the twentieth anniversary of the close of the Council, Saint John Paul II also reiterated that the Church’s nature is koinonia, which gives rise to her mission of serving as a sign of the human family’s intimate union with God.  He went on to say: “It is most useful that the Church celebrate ordinary, and on occasion, also extraordinary synods”.  These, if they are to be fruitful, must be well prepared: “it is necessary that the local Churches work at their preparation with the participation of all” (Address at the Conclusion of the II Extraordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, 7 December 1985).  And this brings us to our third word: participation.  The words “communion” and “mission” can risk remaining somewhat abstract, unless we cultivate an ecclesial praxis that expresses the concreteness of synodality at every step of our journey and activity, encouraging real involvement on the part of each and all.  I would say that celebrating a Synod is always a good and important thing, but it proves truly beneficial if it becomes a living expression of “being Church”, of a way of acting marked by true participation.

This is not a matter of form, but of faith.  Participation is a requirement of the faith received in baptism.  As the Apostle Paul says, “in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body” (1 Cor 12:13).  In the Church, everything starts with baptism.  Baptism, the source of our life, gives rise to the equal dignity of the children of God, albeit in the diversity of ministries and charisms.  Consequently, all the baptized are called to take part in the Church’s life and mission.  Without real participation by the People of God, talk about communion risks remaining a devout wish.  In this regard, we have taken some steps forward, but a certain difficulty remains and we must acknowledge the frustration and impatience felt by many pastoral workers, members of diocesan and parish consultative bodies and women, who frequently remain on the fringes.  Enabling everyone to participate is an essential ecclesial duty!  All the baptized, for baptism is our identity card.

The Synod, while offering a great opportunity for a pastoral conversion in terms of mission and ecumenism, is not exempt from certain risks. I will mention three of these.  The first is formalism. The Synod could be reduced to an extraordinary event, but only externally; that would be like admiring the magnificent facade of a church without ever actually stepping inside.  The Synod, on the other hand, is a process of authentic spiritual discernment that we undertake, not to project a good image of ourselves, but to cooperate more effectively with the work of God in history.  If we want to speak of a synodal Church, we cannot remain satisfied with appearances alone; we need content, means and structures that can facilitate dialogue and interaction within the People of God, especially between priests and laity.  Why do I insist on this?  Because sometimes there can be a certain elitism in the presbyteral order that detaches it from the laity; the priest ultimately becomes more a “landlord” than a pastor of a whole community as it moves forward.  This will require changing certain overly vertical, distorted and partial visions of the Church, the priestly ministry, the role of the laity, ecclesial responsibilities, roles of governance and so forth.

A second risk is intellectualism.  Reality turns into abstraction and we, with our reflections, end up going in the opposite direction.  This would turn the Synod into a kind of study group, offering learned but abstract approaches to the problems of the Church and the evils in our world.  The usual people saying the usual things, without great depth or spiritual insight, and ending up along familiar and unfruitful ideological and partisan divides, far removed from the reality of the holy People of God and the concrete life of communities around the world.

Finally, the temptation of complacency, the attitude that says: “We have always done it this way” (Evangelii Gaudium, 33) and it is better not to change.  That expression – “We have always done it that way” – is poison for the life of the Church.  Those who think this way, perhaps without even realizing it, make the mistake of not taking seriously the times in which we are living.  The danger, in the end, is to apply old solutions to new problems.  A patch of rough cloth that ends up creating a worse tear (cf. Mt 9:16).  It is important that the synodal process be exactly this: a process of becoming, a process that involves the local Churches, in different phases and from the bottom up, in an exciting and engaging effort that can forge a style of communion and participation directed to mission.                     

And so, brothers and sisters, let us experience this moment of encounter, listening and reflection as a season of grace that, in the joy of the Gospel, allows us to recognize at least three opportunities.  First, that of moving not occasionally but structurally towards a synodal Church, an open square where all can feel at home and participate.  The Synod then offers us the opportunity to become a listening Church, to break out of our routine and pause from our pastoral concerns in order to stop and listen.  To listen to the Spirit in adoration and prayer.  Today how much we miss the prayer of adoration; so many people have lost not only the habit but also the very notion of what it means to worship God!  To listen to our brothers and sisters speak of their hopes and of the crises of faith present in different parts of the world, of the need for a renewed pastoral life and of the signals we are receiving from those on the ground.  Finally, it offers us the opportunity to become a Church of closeness.  Let us keep going back to God’s own “style”, which is closeness, compassion and tender love.  God has always operated that way.  If we do not become this Church of closeness with attitudes of compassion and tender love, we will not be the Lord’s Church.  Not only with words, but by a presence that can weave greater bonds of friendship with society and the world.  A Church that does not stand aloof from life, but immerses herself in today’s problems and needs, bandaging wounds and healing broken hearts with the balm of God.  Let us not forget God’s style, which must help us: closeness, compassion and tender love.

Dear brothers and sisters, may this Synod be a true season of the Spirit!  For we need the Spirit, the ever new breath of God, who sets us free from every form of self-absorption, revives what is moribund, loosens shackles and spreads joy.  The Holy Spirit guides us where God wants us to be, not to where our own ideas and personal tastes would lead us.  Father Congar, of blessed memory, once said: “There is no need to create another Church, but to create a different Church” (True and False Reform in the Church).  That is the challenge.  For a “different Church”, a Church open to the newness that God wants to suggest, let us with greater fervour and frequency invoke the Holy Spirit and humbly listen to him, journeying together as he, the source of communion and mission, desires: with docility and courage.

Come, Holy Spirit!  You inspire new tongues and place words of life on our lips: keep us from becoming a “museum Church”, beautiful but mute, with much past and little future.  Come among us, so that in this synodal experience we will not lose our enthusiasm, dilute the power of prophecy, or descend into useless and unproductive discussions.  Come, Spirit of love, open our hearts to hear your voice!  Come, Holy Spirit of holiness, renew the holy and faithful People of God!  Come, Creator Spirit, renew the face of the earth!  Amen.

LR Restoration Mass of Thanksgiving

Homily delivered 26 September by Father Cockram

Why are we here today?

You may well say: “To give thanks to God for this beautifully restored place of worship”

And, of course, you’re right.

But perhaps today is a good time to look at this with a bit more focus.

Just how are we giving thanks to God? And apart from the completion of the restoration work, why do we need to do that?

Most especially, why are we doing it within a form of worship which we call “The Mass”?

What’s that all about? Why don’t we just sing a couple of hymns, listen to a bit of Holy Scripture, say a few prayers and then enjoy a bite to eat together as we congratulate each other?

Well, the answer lies in the words of Jesus which we’ve just heard.

When he said: “The Son of Man is going to be handed over to the power of men,”

he was talking about his death, about his execution.

If we want to know what God is like, the best thing we can do is to look at Jesus from Nazareth. We say that Jesus is the incarnation of God, which means that he is God in human terms.

Jesus was gentle, patient, kind, compassionate, accepting and forgiving. Jesus was love in a human body, and this is the nature of the God whom we worship.

The God of whom St John says:

“God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, so that all who believed in him should not perish, but might have everlasting life.”

Jesus is the love of God, and he died because he couldn’t stop proclaiming God’s love.

The message of the Cross is God saying:

“ You can despise me, reject me, ridicule me and beat me. You can even nail me to a cross to die, and I’ll still go on loving you.”

We are loved, all of us, whoever we are, whatever our religious tradition is, whether we believe in God or not. We are loved because we are all part of God’s creation. We are all part of that fountain of  life which springs from the loving creative energy of Almighty God.

When we’re drawn into a realisation of this love; we’re enabled to see much more clearly that love and sacrifice always go together. Our own human experiences teaches us this in any event; but when we see the death of Jesus as the sacrifice which draws God’s creation back to him, then we begin to see that this sacrifice was the most significant event in history.

On the night before he died, Jesus had supper with his friends. He took some bread and broke it. “This” he said, “Is my body which will be broken for you.” He poured out some wine and said “This is my blood, which will be shed for you and for many”

“Do this to remember me”.

When you remember something, you put it back together, you make it present again.

At the Mass, the sacrifice of Jesus, the sacrifice of God is made present to us. An event which happened in history is made present in our time.

Our offerings, our lives are joined to the sacrifice of Jesus and are given to God.

And they are given back to us as the very life of Christ himself.

Our humanity becomes infused with the divine and we are enabled to live the life of Jesus, the life of God. The life which will pass right through death to continue to give thanks to God in the company of all those whom we continue to love and who have gone before us.

This is why we give thanks to God. And yes, we can do it in a cathedral or in a shed. We can do it with hundreds of others or with one or two. But our natural instinct is to worship God in the best way that we can, bringing to him the best gifts that we can afford.

And so, we do it today in this beautiful church, lovingly restored as a mark of our love for him who first loved us.

May God bless you all. Amen.

Climate Sunday Ecumenical Service

Call to action for COP26 in November

1000 am, Sunday 17 October

UPLYME

The Service will be to show our support and pray, worship and commit to take our own action to play our part in reducing our impact on the planet. Our aim is to make this an informal style of worship that is accessible and inclusive for all. 

Ideally, we would love for this to be an ecumenical service with churches in the area but recognise that synchronising dates can be quite problematic so we have committed to a date and invite all those churches who wish to join us to come along.

We have provisionally booked the shelters to enable this to be an outdoor service and attract those who may be visiting Lyme but this is not definite and we are just exploring all possibilities.

It would be fantastic if you felt you would like to join us either to take part or be part of the congregation.  Do not hesitate to be in touch if you feel you could contribute or would like to be involved in some way.

Organizer:

Rev Nicky Davies,

Team Vicar

Axe Valley Mission Community
Mobile: 07931 413629  (Day off: Wednesday)

We are also taking part in the Christian Aid  Rise to the Moment campaign https://www.christianaid.org.uk/sites/default/files/2021-07/J244337%20YCCN%20activity%20pack%20AW.pdf and will be sending off the boats made by our community so if you would like to join in with this also do let me know and we can share any resources we create.

Education Sunday 2021

From Mrs Mannix Headteacher,

St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, Axminster

As we step into this academic year, I sincerely hope that we will say good bye to Covid and the many demands it has placed on our school community.

Without dwelling too much on it, following the lockdown in March 2020, so much stopped. It affected two academic years, closing down so much of our school life and the experiences of our children and community.  

To say that everyone was ready for the summer break in the hope of returning to an autumn term with more normality is perhaps the understatement of the year.

During the summer holiday I visited the two Liverpool cathedrals.

The Anglican Cathedral is the largest cathedral and religious building in Britain, and the eighth largest church in the world. It has a traditional Gothic form but actually the design was drawn up in more modern times.  The completed design was agreed in 1903 with work beginning in 1904. The cathedral was built in several phases and was finally completed in 1978.

The sense of scale within the building is incredible.  It creates a sense of awe and wonder. A sense of God.

  

The Catholic cathedral could not be more contrasting. Built of grey concrete it is circular in form.   As you step inside you are faced with a huge conical form rising upwards. It is filled with light, shining from the thousands of stained-glass windows.  At the cathedrals centre there is a sculpture raised up high: an immense steel crown; the thorned crown of Jesus. 

This is the largest Catholic Cathedral in the UK.

There are 13 chapels around its perimeter.

Both Cathedrals had complex journeys from conception to reality. I wanted to focus a little on the story behind the Catholic Cathedral.

Liverpool has the highest percentage of Catholics than any other city in the UK. In 1847 with a surge in Catholics who travelled from Ireland, the then Bishop decided that it was time for Liverpool to have a cathedral. Although a lady chapel was built it didn’t get any further due to the demands on the diocese to build schools, orphanages and churches for the growing Catholic population.

In 1922 the then Bishop raised again the discussions about having a cathedral in the city. By 1933 an ambitious plan was underway.   Almost £1million had been raised by the Catholic population.  This was a time of struggle and monies were raised from very local people making extra ordinary sacrifices and church communities holding fund raising events. In the next few years, the foundation stone and the crypt were completed but the finished building costs were now estimated at £27 million.

With the second world war and the challenges of its aftermath the project was again shelved.

In 1953 the original ambitious plans were scaled back but eventually a new bishop decided that scaling back the plans would never make a viable project so he had them scrapped and the plans were re started. He stated that the project must be realised within five years and come in at a cost of £1m.

Despite the seeming impossibility of this the building work did begin in October 1962.

Less than five years later, on the Feast of Pentecost, 14 May 1967, the completed Cathedral was consecrated. 

The completed Cathedral of Christ the King is a dramatic icon of faith, architecture, and human endeavour. An awe-inspiring landmark on the Liverpool skyline. A breath-taking expression of possibility: God’s possibility.

The journey from the first idea for Cathedral to the final completion tells a story of challenge and determination. It reminds me that a straight forward path is not always possible. It strengthens me to know that the people of Liverpool realised the project despite the challenges.

Looking forward into this year we sincerely hope that the story of Covid is behind us and that we will be learning to live alongside it rather than stopped by it. 

At the beginning of the Covid journey during and following lockdown 1 there was a national dialogue considering what we might learn, what we might take away from this experience.

For me, for our school, I would hope that it has strengthened people’s understanding that the school experience is so much more than subjects and lessons. 

At the very end of last term, we started to sing again in school and to hear the sounds of music lessons.  It lifted and moved everyone.

At the very end of term we had a mass here in church for our Year 6 pupils. We were able to invite Year 6 parents and the Year 5 pupils as this allowed us to maintain hubs within the church space.  As a congregation we sang three hymns. 

Hearing the children singing was very emotional. 

At the sign of peace the children turned to each other and immediately there was a hub bub of sound and an energy with such joy as they turned and smiled and greeted each other: Peace be with you. 

It was such a restorative moment. Such a moment of something important being recognised.  

I love the fact that the two Liverpool Cathedrals are at opposite ends of the same street:  Hope Street.

Certainly, we have stepped into this new year with hope. 

Hope in the secular sense is recognised as a source of well-being.  It gives us a strength that our actions matter, that we can overcome, thus motivating positive actions. 

Hope in Christianity is the bed rock of faith. Hope is the birthplace of Christian self-sacrificing love.

Our children are fortunate to know the God of love. To be immersed in the love of Jesus: who doesn’t hold grudges, who doesn’t count the wrong choices but allows us to move on, who is by our side through whatever.  A God of hope and possibilities.

I have been reminding the children that none of us is perfect.  Some children take me up on this, proclaiming with some indignation that in fact they are perfect!

I explain that God teaches us that we are each unique and loved.    That there is nothing we can do to put us outside of God’s love and as importantly there is nothing we can do to attain more of His love.  He loves us because we are.  

I want them to be released from the burdens of feeling that they have to be perfect. I want them to know that we can get things wrong and move forward, we can learn from this.  As a school our teaching and learning approaches are all based on being prepared to have a go, to not be put off when we are stuck or get things wrong. Perfect learners can find the world a stressful place.  God loves us wherever we are. 

Often the Prodigal Son is remembered because he came back to say sorry and thus his father forgave him.  In fact his father had forgiven him before he returned. His father prepared a feast out of his own delight at his son’s return, at the fact that he was, not because of what he had achieved or not achieved.

God’s love is a constant source of hope and strength. 

We are not Mary’s Community School, we are St Mary’s Catholic school; we encourage, support and find ways for the community of St Mary’s to be a community of hope and love.

As the prophet Isaiah said; those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.

Our oldest pupils are in Eagle Class – I think that is very fitting.

This year we have furthered developed our Gift Team; the children who bring God light into our school through their actions and words.  Our Year 5 leaders will be Gift Team Ambassadors and have accessed training and have been commissioned by the Bishop to this role.  We are looking forward to finding ways for them and all of our Gift Team volunteers and all of our children and adults to know God’s love and to shine in his light and love.   

We look forward to spending more time with our parish community this year and will hold you in our prayers.

Thank you for listening.

Corpus Christi

It’s almost impossible to imagine what it would mean to give our flesh for someone to eat. So try to imagine the effect which the words we’ve just heard would have had on a group of Jewish people. For them, as for us, cannibalism was a subject to be avoided.  For most of us even thinking about eating the flesh of another person makes us feel sick.

But, there’s more.    It was, and still is, against the Jewish Law to eat the flesh of an animal from which the blood hadn’t been properly drained. And yet, here’s Jesus giving his friends wine to drink which he says is his blood.

So then, how can we take these difficult words?  What do they mean for our relationship with Jesus?

Well, first of all perhaps we need to face up to the fact that even modern religious practice makes use of ancient imagery, and it’s a basic biological fact that everything that lives, receives its life from another life.  Many religious rituals testify to this, and it was common for pagan religions to hold sacred meals in which the community shared in the life of either their god or their enemy.  The logic being that by eating their god, the worshipper shared in the divine life, whilst eating the enemy eliminated his or her power.

Christianity borrows this concept in order to speak of the way in which believers take divine life into themselves.  The beginning of St. John’s gospel tells us that at the incarnation the “Word was made flesh”.  This is the same as saying that the flesh of Christ contains God’s life for us all.

It’s easy to understand that food and life go together.  Unless we eat physical food we die.  Physical food symbolised by bread, which will of course eventually rot and decay, sustains our physical life, which as we know, ends in death.  This is the bread which Moses gave to Israel in the desert.  Living bread for the Christian community, which is the new Israel, sustains a lasting life that triumphs over death.  If we want lasting life we must eat this bread of life.

God the Father gives Jesus, the bread from heaven.  The work of Jesus is to give lasting life to believers.  This is what God has commissioned him to do.  Our work is to believe in Jesus, because only then can we benefit from the joint work of Father and Son.  Eating and drinking can be understood as taking the very life of Jesus into the centre and core of our hearts.  We need to saturate our hearts and our minds and our souls with Jesus, the very life of God.  We need to be so filled with him that his very essence becomes a part of us. 

Jesus told his disciples to believe in what God was doing for them through him. Belief was to be work for them.  Belief is work for us too.  All the work that we are required to do is to have a certainty in our mind and heart about God and God’s Son.  And yet we continue to find this difficult.  Some Christians think that they aren’t doing enough, and some no doubt, think that they’re doing more than enough.  And both of these mistaken positions are based on works; the good and the bad things that we do.  But the centre of our Lord’s teaching is really quite different. 

Bread can’t be shared until it is broken.  Wine can’t be drunk until it’s poured out.  We take the bread and drink from the cup with the knowledge that it was shared with us out of love, as the ultimate sacrifice for humankind from God. 

The heavenly food is made available through the breaking and bleeding and death of Jesus.  This sharing of himself is sacramentally embodied in the Eucharist, and Jesus explains that through the eating of his flesh and the drinking of his blood, we will be raised up with him on the last day.  It’s his promise to live through us as we receive him.

Jesus said: “I am the bread of life.  He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” Our tradition values the sacraments.  Jesus himself took bread and broke it; he poured out wine and offered these things to his followers with the words “This is my body” and “This is my blood”.  He told them and he tells us through them to keep on breaking, pouring, eating and drinking in order to remember him.  And when we go back to the words “do this in remembrance of me” in the language which they were first written, there is very good reason to believe that they mean “do this to make me present”.

Remember this when you come for communion in a few minutes time, for as you do you are completing all the work which Jesus requires.  Work which will draw you ever more deeply into the mystery of Christ and keep you in eternal life. The life of heaven which begins now, not after you’ve died.

In the Eucharist Jesus invites us through love, to the beginning of the fullness of life that only the Son of God can give. A beginning which will lead, through death to a life more glorious than anything we can imagine.  Can we pass up such a love as this?  Can we honestly turn away from the one who gave himself for us so completely?  

Amen.

May ’21 News Update

St Mary’s Catholic Primary School Axminster

Living, loving and learning with God

Pentecost on the Horizon

As talk of coming out of lockdown progresses and we begin to make small steps to relax our practice the church year has been a great source of strength and encouragement.

On the 4th January we had a training day for staff and everything was focused on next steps. That evening the Government announced a third national lockdown with schools open for keyworker and those pupils with a need to be in school.   Over that half term we had about half of the children in school and half out of school accessing school learning.  On March 8th all children returned. 

It was a confusing time for children. Yes, many were in school and yes all had access to learning and a way to directly contact their class teacher when they weren’t in school. Yes, we were available constantly if parents had concerns or questions…. but it was not what we all needed.  We were all ready for more normal.

Easter People – a people of Hope 

Before we broke up for Easter, we really wanted the children to have a strong sense of hope.  In the true spirit of Easter, we talked to the children about Easter people, those Christians who live a life of gratitude and joy for what God has done through Jesus Christ.

We had celebrations and talked to the children about the exciting possibilities ahead.  We also shared lots of chocolate eggs!

On our return we came back quickly to a very settled and happy community. The children now have access to the field most days (although the weather has not been overly kind this month).  We have also added lots of Mary images and added flowers around school as part of The Month of Mary.

We have also been replanting in the raised beds and pots around school and introducing a wider range of play equipment throughout May.  It feels like life is coming back.  Hope is alive.

As we approach Pentecost, we are planting more flowers around school and have some rainbow and flame coloured play resources to share with the children for a special Pentecost day on Monday 24th May.  This coming Friday we will be adding new rainbow bunting in the outside area ready for Monday. 

I like to think that the timing of Easter and Pentecost and the beginnings of the relaxation of Covid restrictions are no coincidence.  It is helping my sense of joy and my desire to reach out and witness as a person of hope. It is reaffirming my own faith in ways that I never expected.

More steps to a new normal

In the last few weeks, we have introduced children’s book bags back into school so that they can take home their reading book and return it each day.  Volunteers are starting to return.  Music one to one teachers are now back in school.  The piano is now facing forwards with the words ‘Music is alive at St Mary’s’ once again visible.  On Tuesday mornings you can hear singing in our school.   It is wonderful!

We are hoping that it won’t be long before we can plan a school mass again in church.  From where we have been in the last year and the small steps out of lockdown it does feel now like it could be a long time coming but it is ahead of us and we are all looking forward to it happening.

Change Makers

We are growing happy, motivated children who work to be the best they can be for themselves and for others – we are growing change makers.    Here are a few of our projects that are helping to bring this to life.

School success – Unicef Rights Respecting Silver Award

We are very pleased to have achieved the Unicef Rights Respecting Silver Award.   We have been working on this for two years.  The assessment was on Monday 14th May.  We sent in lots of paper evidence to the Unicef Awards assessment team and then had a half day assessment where staff and pupils were asked lots of questions.

This has been an important way to evidence how important each child is to us.  It is very much an expression of our core values to have justice and compassion at the heart of everyone’s thinking.

Summer Challenge for Bristol Hospital

One of our youngest pupils, Poppy, should have started in school last September but due to a complex heart condition has been unable to join us this year.  Poppy has had two long stays in Bristol Children’s Hospital this year. 

Her family are extremely grateful to the hospital for their expertise and care as well as their ability to offer the family a place to stay in Bristol so that they could be near to their little one as she went through a challenging operation and long recovery. 

We are very hopeful that Poppy will be able to join us in September to re start her school journey.

To thank Bristol Children’s Hospital all of our children are running daily to raise money for the hospital. 

See the photos and information on another website page. 

Gift Ambassadors

You will remember that some of our children were disappointed they were not chosen as school councillors and asked how they could make a difference themselves to school life.  From this the Gift Team was born: children keen to shine God’s light into our school.  Before lockdown they came up with ideas to bring light: often fund raising and ways to reach out into the community.   During lockdown they have been working to be especially kind and have also tried to be accepting of all of the restrictions that have affected them: not seeing family and friends, no birthday events with friends, no sleepovers…. big events in little people’s worlds. 

Going forwards, this year, a group of our Year 4 pupils are taking part in some training and will be commissioned by the Bishop as Gift Team Ambassadors.  They will coordinate events and support school liturgy and the prayer life of the school. 

First Communion

We have a group of pupils who were working towards their First Communion.  This was stopped due to Covid restrictions but we are now talking to Father Anthony about a possible date to take this important sacrament before the end of this school year.  

Please keep our children in your prayers and we look forward to sharing more information soon.

Wishing you a very happy Pentecost from all at St Mary’s School

Run to Tokyo – Fundraiser

St Mary’s Summer Challenge for Bristol Children’s Hospital

When children found out that one of our youngest pupils had spent much of this school year in hospital, they decided to do something to make a difference.

Poppy should have joined us in September but due to a complex heart condition has needed to spend time in Bristol Children’s Hospital.

So, this summer our whole school is running our daily mile with more energy and focus to try to cover the 6,000 miles from our St Mary’s in Axminster to the Olympic stadium in Tokyo.  Later in the term we also hope to hold a sponsored bounce with a plan to raise as much money as possible.

We are all really pleased that it looks as though Poppy will be able to join us next September and that she has had excellent care in Bristol.

We will let you know how many miles and how much money has been raised later in the term. Continue reading Run to Tokyo – Fundraiser