Prayer, Worship and the C Team
Prayer and Worship
Our school enjoys a varied and lively prayer life in which all pupils, students and staff are encouraged and welcome to participate.
Essentially, the Chaplaincy aims to help students, both as groups and individuals, become more aware of and confident in the spiritual aspects of their lives. Whether in becoming involved in mass preparation, running a fundraising activity, seeking some guidance and support when things get a bit difficult or celebrating parish confirmation, the School Chaplaincy is there to support all students throughout their time at John Henry Newman .The School is very fortunate to have a full time lay and Priest Chaplain. Together, our Chaplains Father Phillip Law and Miss Leanna Cofano support the spiritual and religious life of the school through liturgies, prayer, retreats and social justice events. All are welcome and encouraged to visit our chapel for prayer, reflection, and silence in the midst of a busy day or to speak with the Chaplains.
At John Henry Newman School we prepare our pupils to become fully involved in the life of the Church, helping our pupils grow into mature, informed Catholics. Prayer and Liturgy are central components of this process. Individuals, form classes and staff have opportunities to gather together for prayer and to receive the sacraments. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is available throughout the year for all pupils.
Each year group in the school has its own chaplaincy team, or ‘C Team’ which is comprised of pupils from that year group. The chaplaincy team works closely with the Priest and lay chaplains and meet together regularly to prepare for upcoming liturgical events for their yeargroup, to take part in charity events or community outreach, and to support each other on their faith journeys. The Sixth Form C Team takes wider responsibility for the spiritual life of the school community as part of the developing leadership strands offered in different areas of the school.
Masses and prayer services are celebrated to mark key events in the liturgical year as well as marking prominent events in the life of the school. The C Team plays a pivotal role in planning and leading these services and developing them into prayerful, reflective occasions for the school community.
Pupils are also offered an opportunity for daily worship through form prayer, as well as having the opportunity to celebrate Mass together either as a year group or a form group. There is also a voluntary lunch time Mass each Wednesday which is open to all pupils and staff and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament takes place on Friday lunchtime. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is available to staff and pupils throughout the year. Staff briefing and all formal meetings always begin with a prayer, and staff are able to gather in our Chapel on Thursday mornings for dedicated staff prayer time.
Opportunities are also available for pupils to develop their faith outside of the school environment through taking part in retreats, Catholic youth ministry events and pilgrimages.
JHN Feast Day
In preparation for our Feast day celebrations, each year group covered an aspect of Catholic School Teaching. Built around the Mass theme of ‘Who is my neighbour’ we collected paper-chain people based on the reflections of our community. One outcome of this was that a sixth form student who wanted to explore the meaning of community, encouraged us to create pen pal links with our friends in the KiSS community in Uganga. This in turn, formed part of our annual ‘KiSS week’celebrations. She was moved when Julius (who oversees KiSS in Uganda) gifted the school with a painting that the KiSS children had made, and she thought it would be nice and equally moving for us to give them something as a token of our thanks in return. Being so closely involved with KiSS and with the wide range of charities we support has definitely enriched our school community as our pupils come to understand the Gospel call to serve others and change the world.
Year 7 Friendship Days
For our Year 7’s, a new school means new friends. Just a few weeks into the new academic year, we organise for them to have an opportunity off- site, where they can explore the scriptures and the advice it offers on friendship, led by Sixth Form volunteers. They enjoy a carousel of five different activities and this year it included exploring their form patron saints with arts and crafts, alongside the team building activities by building a tower with groceries, exploring what it takes to be a ‘super’hero and dramatizing moral decisions. They also received an introduction to the KiSS charity by our Head Boy & Head Girl team who lead the KiSS fundraising initiatives for the student body.
Last year the nearby Coptic cathedral helped Stevenage make national press by joining in with raising awareness of #RedWednesday - a day when up and down the country, communities come together to raise awareness of the plight of people who are not able to practice their religion freely and are even persecuted for their faith. They did this by lighting up their cathedral with red lights, as happened at Westminster Cathedral. This gave us the inspiration to explore this topic with our Year 9 & 10 C-team, who came together in the chapel to hold our brothers and sisters in prayer as we too lit up in red.
For our annual remembrance service we were joined by the Town Mayor and her consort, as well as our own Youth Mayor, veterans and the nephew of one of the alumni of the St. Michael’s School who lost his life in out in the war. We dedicated a plaque of remembrance to him and the other alumni of St Michael's, St Angela's and John Henry Newman on the new Pavilion building. Sixth formers and pupils led the services with the great grandsons of the St. Micheal’s alumni, sending of a balloon for all the men names on the plaque. Throughout the month of November, pupils joined us in the Chapel to create wreathes of crosses with prayers for those whom they would like to remember.
Advent Food Bank Appeal
A huge thank you to everyone who contributed to the Advent food bank Appeal, supporting The Trussel Trust, the network that serves our local area. The picture below shows just a portion of the donations we gathered for collection, as well as items that were delivered to the Justice and Peace commission, supporting the young refugees suffering in the blistering winter conditions in the forrest camps of Calais. Many students presented the back story and work of the Trussel Trust to their forms.
Herts Young Homeless
On the day of our annual Christmas lunch, pupils had the opportunity to wear their Christmas jumpers and donate to our chosen local charity ‘Herts Young Homeless’. They have since been back to give us a very interesting talk that was also co-presented by a past service user who is now one of their volunteers. This gave us an insight into how the funds we raised are used to help young people without a permanent roof over their heads.
Carol Singing for KiSS
Our Music students entertaining patients on the wards of Lister Hospital, only up the road from where they can be found carol singing at Sainsbury’s to fundraise for KiSS during advent!
At the end of the Advent services Years 8-13 had the opportunity to spend time with the concelebrating priests to receive the sacrament of reconcilliation. Our reflections during the service tied closely into this - for example the interpretation of God's grace through dance was prepared and performed by a number of our Year 8 pupils. Year 7 pupils are given the opportunity throughout the year to meet a priest during school time. Throughout the course of Advent, Year 7 also focused reflections on our wasteful society habits. This culminated in a competiton for the most innovative nativity scene, enabling groups of pupils to work together to create an up-cycled nativity scene made out of recycled materials.
Holocaust Memorial Day
On Holocaust Memorial Day we were invited to attend the Dame Alice Owens School for the county wide event remembering the victims of genocides. This included the Rwandan genocide, and 2 of our Sixth form students, Hope Holliday and Sean McCann, presented a moving account regarding one of the members of our KiSS community who had to flee to Uganda as a result of genocide in their native country. Hope and Sean then had the opportunity to join the other speakers on a day to visit the infamous the Nazi Camp, Auschwitz, in Poland. On their return they shared their experience as part of our Lent service. On Holocaust Memorial Day, we had the privilege of listening to Izzy, a holocaust survivor, (pictured centre) and shared his inspiring life story and wisdom, including his relationship with God.
Staff Spiritual Development
This year, as in the past, we collaborated with Nicholas Brakespear School on a joint staff INSET day. We were fortunate to have the chance to listen to inspiring guest speakers, as well as be in great company with our priest chaplains who serve both schools. We welcomed Bishop Paul McAleenan who attended and concelebrated Mass with us.
Our Wider Community
Throughout the year, we work hard to maintain our close, strong relationships with pupils from our feeder primary schools. They are invited to many of our school events, attending the matinee performance of our school productions and our community mass. During their visit at Christmas, the Head Boy Head Girl team were really inspired by how the young people of the KiSS community would teach the little children games and dances and pass down their culture to future generations. On their return to school, our students undertook to teach a dance that the Head Boy/Head Girl team learned on their KiSS community visit, to a group from St Vincent De Paul school. The pupils of St Vincent De Paul school enthusiastically took part in the ‘You are KiSS’ night as part of our KiSS week events, and performed it to the community. The whole school assembly prayer focus also enjoyed a Ugandan inspired makeover for ‘wear Uganda’s colours’ day when pupils could wear items of clothes that were red yellow and black, with many pupils opting to wear some of the Ugandan national dress bought over from the Christmas visit!
In the curriculum....
Year 9’s are covering Judaism as part of their curriculum in RE and we were kindly hosted by the Missouri synagogue in St Albans for a few afternoons so that all the groups could visit and learn. This was a really interesting opportunity to understand the basis of the traditions of our Church.
Our Key Stage 4 curriculum was enriched by a visit from members of the Ten:Ten Christian theatre company who provided two thought provoking workshops for Years 9 and 10, exploring the themes of love and relationships