Chaplains Corner: 9th November

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On the Wednesday prior to the break, approximately 100 students in the Senior School voluntary supped only on bread and soup for the CAFOD Soup Lunch. Primarily awareness raising, the lunch is a great statement of solidarity with the millions around our world who suffer from food shortage.

On the final day of the half-term, students were dressed casually, raising important funds for the annual Lourdes Pilgrimage. For many years, Ratcliffe staff and students have accompanied pilgrims with learning and/or physical difficulties, in conjunction with the charity HCPT (  Mr Nicholas Walsh, Head of RS, and our student volunteers who travelled there last July spoke to us in Chaplaincy Assembly of the work, fun and fellowship they experienced. At the end of our first week back, the Lay Chaplain, Mr Michel, delivered an assembly to commemorate the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, which began on Halloween 1517 in the small town of Wittenberg, Germany. Largely under-reported by our press, the occasion has been marked by the agreement in principle by the Church of England to a Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, signed originally in 1999 by the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation. This important statement goes a long way to healing some historic differences, and is now recognised as a substantial contribution to the effort for Christian Unity. An historic week it was!


Last weekend and this, Year 7 students attended the Briars Retreat Centre in Crich, Derbyshire. Accompanied by some of their tutors and members of the RS department, the students experience group work, personal time for reflection, outdoor activities and joyful celebration of the Mass on Saturday night. A special visit from Fr Sainter on his pushbike was the icing on the cake! Retreats – time away from the busy-ness of life, and opportunity to connect with ourselves, our friends, and our God – are an integral part of our Catholic heritage, and students always give of their polite and generous best at the Briars. Comments from the “Team” at the Briars never fail to praise our students’ behaviour and participation.

Two large celebrations took place around our half-term break – the Feast of All Saints, and the Remembrance Day Service. Year 12 students took a leading role in the former, and there was a palpable sense of reverence and calm in the Church. Fr Philip spoke of the journey of holiness we are all called to follow, and has set a direction to explore this in further detail throughout the year. The Remembrance Day Service is held today, 10th November, and involves students throughout the year levels. As prayers and blessings are offered, scripture and poetry read, symbols of sacrifice and courage are encountered, our students and staff are always moved by the service. No time is more moving, of course, than the haunting listing of the Ratcliffe Fallen.