Catholic Life and Collective Worship

We journey and grow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ

We are all made in God’s image;

We serve one another with love and respect;

We learn and achieve;

We join together in prayer, worship and celebration.

The Mission Statement is at the heart of all we do. It reflects our faith and our purpose and our desire for our school to be a sign of God’s presence in the local community.

Mrs. Morreale and Mrs Heselton have set these words to music and all the children can sing this statement joyfully and enthusiastically.  

We journey and grow together in the footsteps of Christ

Our Mission Statement, is at the heart of all we do. As a Catholic school we are an outward sign of God’s presence in the world. All that we do in school is rooted in Gospel values; these pervade all elements of school life, including the children’s learning, our school behaviour policy, the relationships between all members of the school community, the support offered to families and of course the faith journey of the children and their families during their time at St Mary’s.

We learn and achieve

Through our curriculum, including collective worship and assembly times, children learn that they are special and unique and that God loves each of them unconditionally. Children are taught to think about how to treat others well including respect for all, saying sorry and forgiveness. They discover how to look after the world, our Common Home, caring for the environment and recycling, and those related to caring for all people, including those in our local communities and globally.

We are all made in God’s image

There is a continual emphasis in school life on how we can follow in Jesus’ footsteps. This could be through the way we treat others, in our words and actions or in our everyday lives- ‘Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words’ (St Francis of Assisi). Children are taught that it is the mission of each and every one of us to treat others and the world in a way that will make a positive difference. Older children look at current issues such as refugees and plastic pollution so that by the time they leave Year 6 they have a clear and urgent sense of responsibility to ‘do good’ in our world together with an awareness of what we can all do to have a positive impact in our world. In the words of St Theresa of Calcutta, “Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.” We regularly fundraise for a range of causes, local, national and global; our choice of organisation or charity often comes as a result of a request from pupils or their families.

The faith journey of all children is nurtured from the day they start in Reception until they leave, and we have very close links with our parish church, Our Lady of Sorrows. Our Parish Priest, Father Chris, is a regular visitor to the school and loves welcoming the children to church regularly too. He has an excellent relationship with staff and children and supports all that we do. In his role as governor he informs and guides our practise so that we reflect the priorities of the diocese and the universal church.

Every human being is unique, has innate value and is loved by God. Our Life to the Full programme (see Relationships and Health Education tab) is how we teach pupils Relationships and Health Education including how to keep themselves safe both physically and online, and we have regular visits from both the fire and police services as part of this.

We join together in prayer, worship and celebration

Prayer

Prayer is central to school life and nurtures the faith of the children during their time at St Mary’s. From Early Years to when the children leave in Year 6, we develop the children’s ability to reflect and pray so that they grow in their understanding of the impact of prayer in our lives, and the different ways we can pray – individually and together in silence, with music, song, dance and more. A prayer focus area is at the heart of every classroom. These have a Bible, a crucifix and other items to engage and support the children in prayer. Children are involved in their development and change them regularly with each RE topic and in line with the liturgical year. We learn the traditional prayers of the Church and enable the children to pray in many different ways appropriate for the liturgical season, situation and age of the children. The children and staff regularly use the outdoor environment to pray and be close to God. We are in the process of redeveloping areas of the Bible garden to create special outdoor settings where the children enjoy reflecting about God’s love for them. Children in Key Stage 2 keep a prayer journal.

Collective Worship (Assemblies)

Each collective worship gives the children the opportunity to reflect, listen, respond and ask questions, as well as singing and praying. We have a great tradition of singing at St Mary’s and children learn both traditional and more modern hymns and worship songs.

  • Monday: The week starts with a collective worship for the whole school based on the Gospel from the previous Sunday. In this way, we follow the church year and enable those children who do not attend Mass to journey together through the Catholic year as a community. Children’s achievements in and out of school are celebrated, including regular reading, writing, maths and ‘be-attitudes’ (behaviour) awards and monthly Headteacher awards.
  • Wednesdays: We have weekly singing assemblies which give the children the chance to worship through songs and hymns.
  • Friday: We join together for whole school collective worship which usually focuses on current issues and special days of celebration linked to the liturgical year and calendar such as Chinese New Year, Fair Trade week, the Olympics etc.
  • During the rest of the week children come together for collective worship as a key stage or class; collective worship on these days is planned to cover aspects linked to their RE topics, how we treat each other (including differences, bullying etc) stories from the Bible, current issues and British values. Each term children are invited to share ‘out of school’ achievements in a special assembly.
  • Each term each class also plans their own assembly for the key stage; families are eager to attend these.

Masses

Pupils understand the centrality of the Eucharist to their faith. We start and the end each term with a whole school Mass at Our Lady of Sorrows planned and led by a different Key Stage Two class on a rota basis. Each Key Stage Two class attends Mass on a Friday once a term with the parish. Parents and parishioners’ are also invited to attend. Key Stage Two attend Mass for other Holy Days and special feasts such as Candlemas.

Liturgies

A simple liturgy is shared in school with the younger children on special feast days led by one of our parish priests or a member of school staff. Children also learn to lead simple liturgies within their classes; this develops as the children move up through the school.

Harvest Festival

The school comes together every October for Harvest Festival to celebrate this time of thanks and reflection. Our families are extremely generous and donate food which is distributed to Glenlogie, the local homeless shelter, or the Bognor Regis Food Bank, as well as donating money to CAFOD in return for wearing non-school uniform.

Grandparents Service

We celebrate the annual Diocesan Grandparents Week by inviting grandparents for a ‘tea’ in the school hall during which we share reflections and prayers. This is one of our most popular and well-attended events and grandparents are delighted to share the heartfelt prayers, poems and memories composed by the children.

Remembrance

In November we hold an annual Remembrance service to think about those affected by war, both in the past and present. This is a time of reflection and prayer, and includes the two minute silence at 11am. . The service is usually led by the oldest children in the school and families are invited to join us.

Advent

During Advent we focus on preparing to for the birth of Jesus at Christmas, including nativity plays for families led by EYFS and KS1, and the Deanery Advent Service for Years 5 and 6 at Arundel Cathedral. Children make advent promises and consider what they can do for others as we prepare for Christmas. We collect food for the local food bank through a reverse advent calendar in each class. The whole school also takes part in fundraising for the charity chosen by the Deanery school whose turn it is to organise the service. In 2019 the charity chosen was ‘Mary’s Meals’, a charity who provide a meal each day at school for children in some of the poorest places in the world. In 2020 we all raised money for Cafod World Gift in an online service that all four schools contributed to as we were unable to gather together in Arundel Cathedral.

Advent

During Advent, we focus on preparing to for the birth of Jesus at Christmas, including nativity plays for families led by EYFS and KS1, and the Deanery Advent Service for Years 5 and 6 at Arundel Cathedral. Children make advent promises and consider what they can do for others as we prepare for Christmas. We collect food for the local food bank through a reverse advent calendar in each class. The whole school also takes part in fundraising for the charity chosen by the Deanery school whose turn it is to organise the service. In 2019, the charity chosen was ‘Mary’s Meals’, a charity which provide a meal each day at school for children in some of the poorest places in the world. In 2020, we all raised money for Cafod World Gift in an online service that all four schools contributed to as we were unable to gather together in Arundel Cathedral.

Spirituality Week

In the final week of the Spring Term, we hold an annual Spirituality Week. Everyone in the community looks forward to this. Each year we spend the week journeying through a theme that will enable the children, staff and families to grow closer to God, and there is a whole school prayer area for the week dedicated to the theme. Each day starts with a collective worship organised by partner classes between younger and older children, which opens up the theme of the day for each class to develop and respond to with a particular focus on creative activities such as creative writing, dance, art and drama.

Easter Production

Each year, Year 3/4 lead their own production of the Easter story. With wonderful singing, acting and dancing they tell the story of Holy Week.

Crowning of Mary

Each May we hold a special ‘Crowning of Mary’ celebration where children are invited to bring a flower to take to church and lay at the foot of Our Lady. We celebrate with readings and Marian hymns and Our Lady is crowned by two of our children who have recently celebrated the Sacrament of First Holy Communion.

End of year

Each class has a simple liturgy or Mass on the school field, followed by drinks and biscuits. It is an opportunity to celebrate the time they have had together as a class. A retreat is organised for Year 6 at the parish centre for an afternoon, where they take part in reflective activities, a liturgy and share food together; it’s a chance for them to reflect on and celebrate their years together at St Mary’s and the new journey ahead.

Reconciliation

During Advent and Lent we hold a reconciliation service along with our parish priests. Children then have the opportunity to take part in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Year 5/6 also have the opportunity to take part in the ’24 hours for the Lord’ hosted by our parish church, with a range of carefully planned activities linked to reconciliation.

First Holy Communion

The First Holy Communion programme is run by the parish. The school supports this closely and we celebrate with those making their First Holy Communion. A party is held in school for all those who have celebrated the sacrament for the first time each summer.

Rosary, Advent and Lent prayer groups

During the liturgical seasons of advent and lent, and during the months of May and October (the months of Mary and the Rosary), voluntary lunchtime prayer groups are organised by the RE Council with guidance from adults where necessary. Children come along to pray in an age appropriate way, often including simple craft activities. Children from all key stages enjoy the opportunity to take part.

Parent prayer groups

A parent prayer group is planned for and led by parents at certain times of the year, often during Lent but sometimes on other occasions too.

We serve one another with love and respect

RE Council

We have a RE Council made up of Year 5 and Year 6 children who a group of children who are passionate about the Catholic Life of our school. They lead lunchtime prayer groups at particular times of the year. They also lead assemblies, support classes with prayer focuses, meet with particular visitors to the school, and are the faith voice of pupils at St Mary’s.

Staff Development

The staff take part in annual retreats and other termly opportunities to nurture their faith organised by the Leadership team. This ensures that we can continue to nurture the faith of our children.

Wellbeing and Therapeutic Services

Our school is very proud of the range of support we can offer families and children who are going through difficult times. We have a range of therapeutic support for children and families run by both our play therapists and trained teaching assistants. Please see the wellbeing section of the website, pick up a leaflet from the entrance hall, or come and talk to us in school for more information.

“Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.” – St Teresa of Avila

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