Education Volunteers, Isobel and Patrick Flynn, were truly ‘blown away’ by their visit to St Swithun’s Catholic Primary School in Portsmouth earlier this week. Headteacher Mr Olive told them that the school community had raised a significant amount from their ‘Brighten Up Harvest’ activities last month. This was in addition to collecting a wide range of fresh and canned produce in partnership with their local Food Bank and the Salvation Army. How fantastic! Thank you so much everyone!
Patrick told us,
“The last week of our Liturgical Year got off to a brilliant start at St Swithun’s. The children were really excited to see us as they all filed into the hall. Mr Olive welcomed us back and we were given a lovely “Good afternoon” by everyone. With the same enthusiasm and loud voice, the whole school proudly told us that CAFOD stands for the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development!
“We started our assembly by asking the children to think about the gifts and presents they’d like to give and receive this Christmas. The children were then asked to think about a present that would make a real difference to someone’s life.
“Focusing on the Nativity story, Isobel and I then told the children that we were going to hear some stories from CAFOD’s partners which would help us build a Nativity scene. As we were doing this, some of the pupils were going to read passages of the Christmas story.
“Five children volunteered to read some short passages and they read them beautifully. They were so clear and confident that they could be heard by all throughout the hall!
“The first passage focused on the donkey in the Bible story that 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 looked at 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 we 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 told the children 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 and we also asked them if they would consider buying a special gift this Christmas for someone that they do not know who cannot say a personal thank you.
“We ended the assembly by reflecting on the words of St Matthew’s “Whatever you do to the least of one of these, you do it to me.” In buying a special gift in this way, in the name of Jesus, we are giving a gift to Jesus for his birthday.”
Before the concluding prayer, Isobel and Patrick presented Mr Olive with a scallop shell as a memento of Year 5 and Year 6 Year of Mercy Pilgrimages to St Swithun’s Church and invited the children to keep up their excellent Corporal Works of Mercy in the coming year and throughout their lives.
Thank you very much to St Swithun’s entire school community for all their ongoing support and thank you to Patrick and Isobel for delivering this lovely assembly.