The event was organised by the Catholic headteachers from the eleven primary schools: Our Lady of Sorrows, Armthorpe, St Peter’s, Sandy Lane, St Frances Xavier, Balby, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Intake, St Mary’s, Edlington, Holy Family, Stainforth, St Joseph’s, Retford, St Patrick’s, Bircotes, St Joseph and St Theresa, Woodlands, All Saints, Rossington, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Bentley and the McAuley Catholic High School, Cantley.
“We really felt that we wanted to celebrate the uniqueness of our schools and to stand up and make a statement about what we stand for”, said headteacher of the McAuley Catholic High School, John Rooney. The celebration was entitled ‘Call to Serve” and each element of the event explored this and asked participants to reflect on why they do what they do in our schools asking, “Why are YOU here at this moment? At this time? Why did YOU choose to work in the school YOU work in? Why have YOU been Called to Serve in our family of Catholic schools?”
Over fifty children from all the schools kicked off the day with a spectacular opening song and dance piece “This is Me” which was met with thunderous approval from the four hundred members of the audience, which included teaching and support staff as well as parents and Governors.
The first key note speaker was Fr David O’Malley who delivered a beautiful and witty presentation which focussed on the ‘Call to Serve’ young people. Fr David is a man with a wealth of experience of working with young people, both as a chaplain in a school setting and as a Youth leader in a retreat house. He has written numerous books and pamphlets on chaplaincy and working with youth, including “Trust the road about Faith and discernment after formal education”. The presentation ended with a beautiful reflection on members of staff in Catholic schools being asked to show ‘loving kindness’, quoting Don Bosco that “Education is largely a matter of the heart.”
Steve Murray then took to the stage, otherwise known as The Mime Guy, where human theatre meets the Gospel which was delivered in a fresh, unique and inspirational style, combining mime and preaching. Steve’s message was a deeply personal and extremely moving testimony about his journey of faith and how he has been called to serve. The irony of mime and being ‘called’ to serve was not lost on the audience, but we were reminded of the words of Saint Francis of Assisi, who said “preach the Gospel and sometimes use words!”
After lunch there was a fantastic video montage from all the schools which underlined the diversity and their unique nature, highlighting the kaleidoscope of colour in our family of schools and to celebrate the richness of the children of the families we serve.
In the most fitting way the CAST theatre was then transformed into church as Mass was celebrated by Fr Darren Reid and concelebrated by Fr Chris Ainslie, Fr Bernard O’Brien and Fr David O’Malley. The celebration of the Eucharist is, of course, the way that our schools truly show their uniqueness amongst other schools in the country.
CAST (which will, from now on, stand for Catholic Schools Together) was a fantastic celebration of all that is wonderful and inspiring in our family of schools and it also served to underline the importance of our work, being called to serve, in contributing to the church’s Mission through education.
John Rooney, Headteacher, The McAuley Catholic High School