Our Education Volunteers, Patrick and Isobel Flynn, gave a very special assembly at St Thomas More Catholic Primary in Havant yesterday, based on the Year of Mercy. Patrick told us,
“The assembly was begun by Mr Flanagan, the Headmaster, lighting the school assembly candle and we lit our assembly candle too to unite in offering our prayers and thoughts to our Lord. We then presented a CAFOD certificate to the school in thanks for all the prayers, work and donations that were made to CAFOD during Lent.
“As Mr Flanagan introduced us, we were impressed with the understanding the children had of what mercy is and how we can all be merciful.”
During the assembly, Patrick and Isobel reminded the children that Jesus said we should do everything we can to help people who needed it. He said this was a very special thing to do and this is what is meant by mercy. It’s a special way of showing how much we care for people. Pope Francis has asked Catholics throughout the world to mark this special Year of Mercy. As Patrick and Isobel explained that this means, among other things, that he wants us to think about how we show that we care for everyone and help others because of the love God the Father has for us.
The children then thought about the seven things which the church says we all should do to help people in need (sometimes called the corporal works of mercy). These are things like giving food to someone who is hungry, a drink to someone who is thirsty and caring for someone who is sick. CAFOD is doing work all over the world which is part of this.
Patrick and Isobel then gave some examples of this including CAFOD’s work in Nicaragua where our partners are ‘feeding the hungry’ by training communities in bee keeping.
The children learned how Mayling’s grandmother Marta looks after bees. Mayling (pictured above) loves the honey because it’s sweet and tasty, and it also gives her energy to concentrate at school. When there is some honey left over, Mayling and Marta can sell it to buy food. (Watch this work in action in the short film below).
“It was gratifying to be able to reflect on ways in which St Thomas More school puts some of the corporal works of mercy into practice. The school really embraced CAFOD’s Make a Splash initiative during Lent to ‘give drink to the thirsty’.
“When new children join the school we welcome them” one pupil said when asked how we could ‘welcome the outsider’. Another pupil responded, “We could welcome refugees.”
CAFOD is doing this in partnership with Caritas Hellas in Greece to provide to support refugees as they arrive on Greek islands, as well as at the border with Macedonia. This support includes providing food, nappies for babies and raincoats for winter. The children heard about Soulai and Yasi (both 10 years old) who left Syria because of the war there. They are now in Greece living in a refugee camp. Their journey to Greece by boat was very dangerous and difficult yet Yasi says “I’m not afraid now but in Syria I was. Rockets and bullets I was afraid of but here it’s safe.”
The assembly concluded with a prayer and an invitation to the children to pray for refugees and to think about a message that they would like to send to refugee children and adults. This is ahead of some ‘welcome the outsider’ workshops that Patrick and Isobel will hold with the children in June.
Thank you so much to everyone at St Thomas More primary for their lovely welcome and for all their fantastic support for CAFOD.