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Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2494

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Shropshire Catholic school among first in the country to collect a ‘Laudato Si’ award from Cafod

 

A Catholic school in Shropshire has become one of the first in the country to gain a Laudato Si award.

St Patrick’s Catholic Primary School in Wellington, Telford, is one of only about 20 schools in the UK to obtain the award from Cafod, the overseas development agency of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

It won the award after it demonstrated a lasting commitment to the ideals promoted by Pope Francis in his 2015 encyclical about the duty of mankind to care for creation.

The whole school took part in the project as part of the 2017 Year for Mission in the Diocese of Shrewsbury.

The encyclical became the focus of events in the school during its Mission Week when pupils were able to demonstrate to each other how they had been putting the Pope’s teachings into practice.

Sue Stevens, the RE coordinator at St Patrick’s, said: “Each class made a ‘Mission Pledge’ in advance of the week and thought carefully about how they could fulfil Pope Francis’ challenge to ‘Live Wisely, Think Deeply and Love Generously’ in order to care for our common home.

“During the week itself, all classes worked tirelessly on their own mission projects and then we finished the week with a liturgy where we shared all our work with each other and explained how we would continue our mission going forward.”

She added: “The week was colourful and vibrant with children thoroughly enthused about Laudato Si and the part they had to play in achieving Pope Francis’ vision.  The award was the icing on the cake for us.”

To obtain the award, the school had to show Cafod not only what it had done to teach Laudato Si, but also how it intended to make an enduring commitment to the care for the environment.

All of the pupil year groups from Reception to Year Six adopted explored a different aspect of the teachings of the encyclical.

The Year One pupils examined how they could help to better conserve and sustain the natural world.

Their work included making bird food and putting up feeders around the school, which has attracted scores of garden birds into the school every day. The feeders will be stocked with food particularly throughout the winter months.

Year Two pupils focused on the human ecology and visited residents of the Priory Nursing Home in Wellington with the aim of bringing cheer into their lives with popular songs and gifts of painted stones, which they produced with the help of the Reception children.

Recognising that recycling at the school could be improved, the Year Three pupils raised money to buy a composter for organic playground and kitchen waste, while the Year Four pupils investigated how hardier refuse could best be disposed of in a separate project.

As their project, the Year Five pupils studied the life, example and legacy of Blessed Oscar Romero, the El Salvadoran archbishop shot during Mass in 1980 after publicly criticising the military oppression of the poor.

The pupils made their own Salvadoran crosses after learning that these were symbols of “hope, faith and justice” for the people of El Salvador during the years of struggle.

The Year Six children, for their project, examined the grave problem of the pollution of the world’s oceans with plastics.

They were so enthusiastic about the project that they sought to educate other children in the school about the problem during Mission Week when they led an assembly.

Mrs Stevens said the children had a “great week”, with many pupils expressing how they enjoyed the activities immensely.

The evidence of the children’s work was then sent to Cafod which decided that it warranted a Laudato Si award.

David Brinn, schools volunteer programme coordinator at Cafod, said he “very impressed” by the efforts of St Patrick’s.

He said that normally one year group or one class would attempt to obtain the award but St Patrick’s had committed the whole school to achieving it.

Even before his arrival at the school, the work on the project was so advanced that little else had to be done for the school to gain the award.

“It is the sort of thing we would be encouraging in other schools,” Mr Brinn said.

Mrs Stevens said that she would like to thank Sarah Coggins, the executive head teacher; Mary Price, the deputy head teacher, and Gay Kendrick, the chair of the governors, for their generous support for the project.

 

(Photo by Simon Caldwell)