Catholic Life at St. Mary's
At St. Mary's we believe that our faith helps to shape what we do. Here are details of some of the special events that take place throughout the school year to supplement our teaching of Religious Education.
Not only do we raise money every year for different CAFOD projects, we also reach out to the local community for donations of food, clothes and toiletry items for the Ace of Clubs, a homeless charity located beside St Mary’s RC Church.
Sarah Miles, who coordinates this project, visits our school every year to raise awareness and to talk to the children about how their contributions help the homeless people who come to the centre for support. Children also visit this project to see, first hand, how it serves others. During our Harvest Liturgies, we display terms contributed from each class.
The Month of the Holy Rosary
As October is the month of the Holy Rosary, children are invited to honour our lady by praying the Rosary in the main hall every Monday, Wednesday and Friday before school.
Parents are also invited to come in and pray the Rosary in the library every Tuesday at 3.10pm.
Year 5 Retreat
Every year the Year 5 children spend a Friday evening in school to partake in our annual Year 5 retreat. After some ‘get to know each other better’ games, the children spend time in quiet reflection to enhance and develop their relationship with God and to explore a chosen theme.
Last year, we chose the centenary of the apparitions of Our Lady in Fatima as our theme. Our local parish priest, Father Richard, spoke with the children during which a presentation was made on the events which took place there. The children then had the opportunity to design and make their own rosary beads.
We include ‘Lectio Divina’ as part of the retreat timetable and after a period of reflection on the chosen passage. We join to share a meal (pizzas prepared by the children) in the school dining hall.
Link to Hope Christmas Charity
Every year, we join numerous schools and organisations to support the Link to Hope charity by sending a Christmas gift to those in need. Children and their families send shoeboxes filled with useful items and gifts to families in Romania and other Eastern European countries.
This initiative is very special to our hearts and the children take great delight in planning what to put in their boxes. We have a special ‘Shoebox Liturgy’ where the children bring their shoeboxes to be collected. The junior children then help to fill a van that goes to Europe to deliver our gifts and spread joy to others. We always receive a letter of thanks with pictures and information on the people who receive the boxes.
Every November, to mark the month of the Holy Souls, we come together as a school to remember our loved ones who have died and to remember the lives lost during the first and second world war.
Each class fills in a remembrance card to include family members and this is compiled into a book of remembrance which is displayed during the liturgy.
At 11.00 am we join with the rest of the nation in observing the two-minute silence to remember and honour those who have paid a price for our freedom.
Every Christmas, we have a foundation stage, infant and junior celebration.
Nursery & Reception
The children narrate the Christmas story for the infants and their parents. Music is led by our music co-ordinator, Miss Haynes, and the children join in with actions during the hymns and songs.
The infant classes Year 1 & Year 2 gather together in St Mary’s Church to celebrate the Nativity. Following a script, they perform the Christmas story and sing Christmas carols. They present a matinee performance for the school and an evening performance for parents in the parish.
Key Stage 2 children gather together in St Mary’s Church for a formal celebration of the Christmas story through music, drama and scripture readings. A matinee performance takes place in the church for the rest of the school and parents attend the evening service.
Every spring term, we hold a reconciliation service for the juniors, to coincide with Lent. Priests from the parish visit the school to share in our liturgy which focuses on the forgiveness of Christ. The children take part in a symbolic washing of the hands which reinforces their understanding of how Christ washes away our sins. Following this, the children are invited to go to confession.
The children derive great pleasure in fundraising for our chosen charities during Lent, as part of our focus on almsgiving during the season. Each class takes ownership of their fundraising endeavours by finding creative ways in which to raise money. Past activities have included:
· Cake sale
· Shoot the goal
· Guess the sweets in a jar
· Find the treasure on the map
We have raised money for many charities dear to our hearts, including:
· Mary’s Meals
· Aid to the Church in Need
· The Little Way Association
To mark the closing of the Lenten season, both infants and juniors have a special liturgy which recalls the final moments of Our Lord’s passion and death.
The children tell the story of Holy Week through music, drama and scripture readings. Each class prepares their own scripture reading which they reflect on prior to the liturgy. They prepare a dramatic presentation of their reading to show to the infant classes and their families.
In the weeks leading up to the junior Lenten reflection, the children reflect upon the journey that Our Lord took as He carried His cross. During the Lenten reflection, parents, staff and children gather together in St Mary’s church and the juniors narrate The Way of the Cross through mime, music and prayers.
Easter Bonnet Parade Foundation Stage
After the Easter holidays, the Early Years Foundation Stage retell the story of Easter through music and drama. Parents and families attend this presentation and children wear specially decorated Easter bonnets for the occasion. Later on in the day, Foundation Stage pupils parade around the playground presenting their bonnets to the juniors.
As Pentecost approaches, the whole school gathers in the hall to recount the events which occurred between Our Lord’s Resurrection and the feast of Pentecost. Each class prepares a reading which they present to the school through drama, music and scripture readings.
First Holy Communion
As a school we like to celebrate with the children who have made their First Holy Communion each year. To this end, we celebrate Holy Mass in school and the first communicants play a key role in assisting at the Mass by reading the Word of God, presenting the offertory gifts and serving at the Mass. Parents, staff and children gather for a celebratory party afterwards.
Feast Day of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour
As Our Lady of Perpetual Succour is the Patron of our school, we celebrate this special feast each year by uniting with the Redemptorist priests in an outdoor procession to honour Our Lady. The Rosary is said and the beautiful story of the image of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour retold.
Year 2 'Moving Up' Assembly
To mark the transition from the infants to the juniors, the Year 2 children gather together to reflect on their experience in Key Stage 1. They present their memories to their families and the other children in the school in a variety of ways including, prayer, singing, playing musical instruments and drama.
Year 6 retreat
Every year, the Year 6 children attend a retreat in the monastery at St Mary’s Church. This is a time of prayer and quiet reflection where the children grow in their faith and love of God. They reflect on their time at St Mary’s and on the exciting journey which lies ahead in secondary school. Last year alongside Fr Richard, we were blessed to have other members of religious orders come to visit and speak to the children.
During the day, the children attend Holy Mass, spend quiet time in the presence of Jesus in Eucharistic Adoration and can avail of Confession.
Religious Education Week
The theme of RE Week 2017 was The Year of Mercy to help commemorate the Jubilee Year of Mercy. During this week, the RE coordinator led several liturgies on the theme of Mercy and the children were able to immerse themselves in the theme of mercy . Each class produced a board on a chosen parable or Gospel reading. The Year 6 children also had the opportunity to attend a special mass in St George’s Cathedral, Southwark.
Visit to the Holy Land
Last year our RE co-ordinator was given permission by the school to go to the Holy Land where she was able to experience the Gospel come to life and to develop her personal relationship with God. On her return, she was able to feedback to the children by leading a liturgy on her experience.
Other Faith Week
In addition to our study and practise of our Catholic faith, we also learn about other faiths throughout our time at St. Marys. We feel that his helps us to become more understanding of others.
During the Autumn term, we study Judaism. When Miss Melville went to Jerusalem, she shared photos to highlight aspects of the Jewish faith.
Links with our parish community
Every year our junior choir join with St Mary’s parishioners in celebrating Christmas with vulnerable and elderly members of the community. A special meal is shared whilst the choir provides musical interludes by singing Christmas carols.
Collingwood Nursing Home
Each Christmas, the Lower Junior Choir participates in an outreach project that aims to connect the school with older members of the local community. To this end, the choir presents a concert performance of Christmas carols. Afterwards, the children and the nursing home residents share celebratory food and drinks.
Royal Trinity Hospice Christmas Carol Service
St Mary’s school has a longstanding relationship with Royal Trinity Hospice and is honoured to be invited to participate in a special ecumenical service of Christmas remembrance. Our choir perform at the annual 'Light Up A Life' service, which is attended by nationally renowned media personalities. The event is a highlight of the Christmas season for the whole Clapham community.
Mass at St Mary’s Parish Church
Every year the children join as a school to attend Mass in St Mary’s Parish Church to celebrate special feasts and seasons.
· Feast of the Immaculate Conception
· Ash Wednesday (Mass for KS2 and special in-school ashes ceremony for infants)
Mass in St Mary’s School
In addition to our regular liturgies, we also celebrate Mass at school for special occasions including:
· First Holy Communion
· Year 6 Leavers' Mass
The growing faith team and other pupils from the juniors and lower juniors get involved by reading the readings, offering up the prayers of the faithful and taking up the offertory.
Miss Haynes chooses children from the Lower Junior and Upper Junior choir to lead and sing hymns during the Mass.
As the celebration of the Mass is very holy and special, we do not take photographs.
We come together to pray...
Here at St. Mary's we value the time to come together and reflect on Bible readings and on the topics we are studying during our Religious Education lessons.
On Mondays, we come together as a whole school to share the Bible reading from the weekend and reflect on it again.
On Wednesdays, the Juniors come together and each class leads us in reflecting on a particular topic; sharing songs and Bible readings to help others understand and reflect.
On Thursdays, the Infants also come together to share what they have been learning and use hymns and prayers to share their message.
We also enjoy taking children in the Juniors to St. Mary's Church where they celebrate Mass with the wider community in our Parish.
Please see below for the timetables of our school liturgies and Junior's mass attendance.