Retreat Day at St John’s Cathedral

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Hello to all the Year 6 pupils from St Swithun’s and St John’s RC primary schools in Portsmouth who took part in a very special workshop this week, run by our friend Maureen Thompson.  The workshop was part of a Day of Reflection for students as they prepare to move on from primary school to secondary school this autumn. 

Maureen told us,

“At Mass the children reflected on Matthew 28 where Jesus assures his disciples that he will always be with them and commands them to go out and make disciples of all nations.

“Canon Dominic reassured the children that although they will be moving on to new schools,  Jesus will be with them during that time.  He said we should all try to be like St Teresa of Calcutta and use our hands and feet to imitate Jesus in all we do.

“After lunch we then had workshops and in the CAFOD workshop we discussed what the pupils knew about CAFOD and discipleship. I talked about the life of Oscar Romero (see the short film below) and how he had been a faithful disciple of Jesus.   Even when it became very difficult to do so, he spoke up for justice and was courageous in speaking out against repression.  He was also a great listener and listened to the suffering of the people.

“I also told the children how CAFOD had helped pay for the radio broadcasts he made every week back then and how Oscar Romero even wrote to the American President at the time asking him to stop sending weapons.

“He was so outspoken that he was assassinated whilst saying Mass.  However, because of his bravery in following Jesus commandments, he is still remembered and many of the things he said still have great meaning for us today; “Each one of you must be a microphone of God. Each one of you must be a messenger, a prophet.”

“The class then looked at various “Romero” crosses and how Jesus is always at the centre but how the local tradition is to put things that are important to them, their village, the animals, plants, family or even Romero himself around the image of Jesus. In small groups the children then created their own crosses to try and illustrate three questions. These were,

  1. What sort of Jesus do you want on your cross?
  2. What things are important to your school community that you will take with you into the next stage of your life?
  3. Knowing He will be with you always, how do you image your future as disciples of Jesus?

“We had some lovely results; suffering Jesus, happy Jesus, Jesus in kingly robes and even a Jesus in contemporary dress, showing that today we can sometimes imitate Jesus.


“Groups illustrated the things that are currently important to their school communities such as friendship, learning, things they knew about Jesus and lots of lovely animals and flowers representing creation.  Thinking about the future was harder, although lots of children had ambitions to be musicians, sportsmen and doctors, and they recognised the need to earn their own living and work hard.  Quite a few crosses also had images of heaven too.

“In the final liturgy, Dom Deboo brought everything together and talked about being disciples loved by Jesus and we distributed cards with words from Oscar Romero “Aspire to be more, not to have more”.  I asked everyone to write something on the card about how they might be a good disciple, how someone had helped them or a message for someone in need that they might later give away.

“Good luck to everyone moving on to a new school. I hope you will all continue to be great disciples and continue to work with CAFOD.”

Thank you so much Maureen for running the workshop and to Dom for inviting us to take part.  And all our very best wishes to all the children in Year 6 who will be leaving primary school this summer.

Explore more of our resources around Oscar Romero here

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