We are so grateful for all the wonderful support given to CAFOD by the entire school community of St Thomas More’s Catholic primary in Havant! Thank you all so much! This week, our Education Volunteers, Patrick and Isobel Flynn gave a special assembly to mark the end of the liturgical year and the start of Advent next weekend. The assembly looked at the true meaning of Christmas and focused on the Nativity story.
Patrick told us,
“At the beginning of the assembly Mr Flanagan, the Headteacher, invited everyone to pray for all those who made a difference in the world but have now passed away. A special mention was made of Nelson Mandela and Oscar Romero.
“We then presented a thank you certificate to a member of the School Council for the school’s fantastic donation of £361, which was raised during their ‘Brighten Up’ Harvest activities last month.
“Mr Flanagan then started the assembly by asking the children if they liked getting presents for Christmas. All hands shot up of course! He followed this by asking if anyone had made a list of gifts they’d like to either receive or give to others and again, many hands were raised.
“Isobel and I then told the children that we were going to hear some stories from CAFOD’s partners and help build a Nativity scene. As we were doing this, some of the pupils were going to read passages of the Christmas story.
“Each of our five helpers introduced each section of the Nativity story and read their passages beautifully. As the story progressed, a new addition was added to our Powerpoint slide and this was watched with full attention as the children waited to see what would unfold. Even the youngest, at only four years old, were delighted to identify each of the new arrivals!
“We started by talking about the donkey in the Bible story which carried something very special; Mary and Jesus. We then told the children that in Ethiopia, donkeys are a valuable asset for families. They are also often the only means of getting sick people to health clinics, many of which are miles away.
“We then thought about the next part of the story when there was no room for the Holy Family at the Inn. However, as Mary was about to have her baby, the family was allowed to stay in the place where the animals were, including the oxen.
“We explained that in Ethiopia, cows are very important and shared the story of Afera, a young mother who lives in northern Ethiopia with her six children and her husband, an injured war veteran, who is unable to farm the land. CAFOD partners provided the family with a cow which gave birth to calves a few months later. The cows produce about 8 litres of milk a day which Afera uses to make butter to then sell at the local market.
“We explained that the cow is just one of many other World Gifts which people can buy and give at Christmas time to their friends and family.
“The children were excited about the idea of buying a gift that would change someone’s life for the better. Mr Flanagan even said he was willing to give up the gift of socks he usually got from his Mum if she would like to buy a goat instead!
“Pupils will now be choosing the gifts they want to buy and deciding on some fundraising ideas. The assembly finished with a prayer thanking God for the greatest gift of all – His only Son.
“Just before the children were dismissed, we presented the school with a Scallop Shell as a memento of their two Pilgrimages to St John’s Cathedral during the Year of Mercy. The Scallop Shell is a well-known symbol of pilgrimage and is often used during Baptism in memory of Jesus’ Baptism in the River Jordan. The children were encouraged to continue their excellent Corporal Works of Mercy as we approach the Church’s new liturgical year”.
Thank you very much to St Thomas More’s Catholic School Community for all their ongoing support and thank you to Patrick and Isabel for delivering this lovely assembly.