Education Volunteers, Patrick and Isobel Flynn, gave a very special assembly during Interfaith Week at St Paul’s Catholic Primary in Paulsgrove this week.
Patrick told us,
“We were welcomed by Mrs Were to the whole school assembly on Monday morning at the start on Interfaith Week. The assembly was opened with a special prayer which had been written by the children and selected by the School Council. It read, ‘Lord, thank you for a new day. Please go before me and clear the way. Thank you for protecting me. Thank you for guiding me. Thank you for loving me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.’
“We lit our candles to offer our assembly in prayer as usual. Several ‘key words’ had been distributed to children ahead of the assembly and the children were invited to stand up and to come to the front when they heard Isobel or me mentioning those words.
“We told the children that we would be thinking about some very important behaviours and attitudes as we began Interfaith Week.
“First of all though, we went back to ‘The Beginning!’ We talked about God’s creation of the Earth and all living things. We reminded the children that we proclaim this belief every time we say the Creed.
“Next we reminded the children that God created all people in His own image and likeness. Although we are all different and we may have different customs, traditions and religions, we are all known to God individually and all loved by Him equally. Therefore, we have a responsibility to love each other and to be tolerant and respectful of our differences.
“We talked about some rights that we all have such as the right to be safe, to be educated and the right to nourishing food. Alongside these rights, we have responsibilities and we said that the children would hear more about these during the week.
“Having looked at pictures of workers in their fields growing fresh food, we looked at pictures of a school overseas and at an excellent school in the UK – St Paul’s!
“We went on to say that CAFOD works to help people achieve their rights and we emphasised that CAFOD works alongside communities overseas to ensure that their voices and needs are at the heart of its work. This was likened to St Paul’s School Council where the proposals are made by the children and the Council then takes these suggestions to the Head Teacher Management Group for implementation.
“We also stated that CAFOD works with communities of many different faiths or of no faith at all.
“Then, we talked about Maria who lives in El Salvador and about Rogerio and Andreia, whom we saw earlier in the year when we talked about in our ‘Making Friends Through Sport’ assembly in the summer. We went on to look at other ways in which CAFOD works to bring communities together to overcome conflict and violence.
“I also gave some personal experience of understanding and respect in our own modern workplaces. I worked for a major employer in a large tower building in London where there were over 10,000 employees. The company celebrated religious and cultural events and encouraged participation by everyone. The Festivals of Diwali and Holi were always eagerly awaited with hundreds of employees joining in.
“Likewise, Eid and Ramadan are key opportunities for celebration and participation. Christian Feasts and events were given similar prominence and Ash Wednesday would attract well over 500 participants, many of whom were not Christian.
“We also reminded the children of some of the words that they will hear during the week and then reviewed the words that were brought to the front and we suggested an order that would help us through the week and through our lives.
“We concluded with a prayer, thanked Mrs Were and all the school for inviting us to St Paul’s and wished them a very happy week of Interfaith exploration”.
Many thanks to St Paul’s Catholic School for all your support and thank you too to our Education Volunteers, Patrick and Isobel for their inspiring work.