Hello to everyone at St Swithun’s RC primary school in Portsmouth! Thank you for inviting our Education Volunteers, Patrick and Isobel Flynn, into school earlier this month to deliver a very special assembly based on the Year of Mercy. Patrick told us,
“We were given a really lovely, warm welcome and were delighted to see all the effort that has been put into promoting the Year of Mercy in the school.
“The children entered the hall in silence to the sounds of meditative music and placed their class candles on the Assembly Table. The candles were lit at the start of the Assembly and we lit ours alongside to offer our united prayers to God our Father.”
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 welcoming the outsider. CAFOD is doing work all over the world which is part of this.
“There is a fabulous display of the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy, presented in the form of a cross, in prime position at the front of the hall. This display is on full view and ‘centre-stage’ for all assemblies and school activities.”
Patrick and Isobel then gave some examples of the Corporal Works 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).
The children also heard how CAFOD’s partners are ‘welcoming the stranger’. CAFOD is doing this in partnership with Caritas Hellas in Greece to provide support refugees as they arrive on Greek islands. This support includes providing food, nappies for babies and weather-proof clothing. 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.”
Patrick told us,
“The children were attentive and really responsive as we outlined the Corporal Works of Mercy. They had already been told about CAFOD by their enthusiastic Headteacher, Mr Olive, and were well prepared for today.
“As we progressed through the Works of Mercy, there was a sea of hands with children from across the year-groups keen to share their experiences and answers.
“The assembly concluded in prayer. We asked the children to pray for the the work of CAFOD and our partners in the communities worldwide.
“We thanked the children and the teachers for their enthusiasm and Mr Olive told the children that we would be back in a couple of weeks to talk about ‘Brightening Up for Harvest’.”
Thank you so much to everyone at St Swithun’s primary for their lovely welcome and for all their fantastic support for CAFOD.