Every week, there is Mass to prepare. Members of the Bosco Group serve Mass, do the readings and often prepare a short drama from the Gospel which gets the message home. Sometimes, they prepare cartoons or wall displays. More often than not, they have to organise collections for charities - SVP, Marie Curie, the Whitechapel Project, JOSPICE have all benefitted from the students' efforts. This year, the Bosco Group decided that they wanted to form a Junior SVP linked to the adult SVP from St James' Church, Bootle. They took this project on board after the Christmas collections, when the SVP was so pleased with the amount of tinned food they had collected.
They organised a school collection of soap, a most necessary item for the households served by the SVP. In addition, they organised two raffles. In a fortnight, they raised ninety six pounds to hand over to the SVP. No mean feat and they had fun doing it. What a remarkable bunch they are!
"You must love your neighbour as yourself" runs the commandment that Jesus said was second only to "Love the Lord your God". The Bosco Group has proved that they consider those less fortunate than themselves, but how can such devotion be rewarded?
On Merseyside, the Animate Youth community, led by Father Simon Gore from Lowe House in St Helens, brought the Faith in Action scheme to our area, to reward the young people who give of their time and energy.
Every year, exceptional students are gathered together to receive their Faith in Action awards, recognising the work done in that year. These rewards are graded: Gold, Silver, Bronze and Pin.
The pin Awards are given to children from the Primary Schools. The other awards are for the rest of the student world from High Schools to Parishes. They are awarded on the strength and availability of time that the students give to serving others. The Bronze Award is for beginners. The Silver Award is given to students who have built on their Bronze Award and have gone on a pilgrimage to pray about their efforts; to reflect on them and seek guidance for new ways to inspire them. The Gold Award is a reward for those students who have shown the qualities of leadership and organisation in their community.
This year, Savio put four students forward for awards: these four wrote comprehensive reports on what they had done. Joseph and Lewis were down for the Bronze. These are two year Seven boys who not only serve Mass faithfully but have proved good all-rounders, willing to tackle anything. Mia (Year 8) and Antonia (Year 9) were put forward for Gold Awards: both girls were on the young side for Gold medals but proved themselves time and time again capable of the work necessary for Gold awards.
So, on the evening of June 27, our four eager students plus the Chaplaincy Team, piled into the school mini-bus and headed towards the Chapel of Liverpool Hope University.
Faith in Action has succeeded so well in its three years existence in our Archdiocese (in its first year it had just over 400 candidates; last year there were 700 and this year over 1000) that two ceremonies had to take place to accommodate them all. We partook of the buffet and gazed around the Chapel and Dining Room in the knowledge that, in a couple of years, our students could continue their studies there - Antonia wants to teach so she was very interested. We proceeded into the Chapel where the ceremony was to take place. Father Simon and his team were there with the guest of honour - Archbishop Malcolm McMahon. He was impressive enough, but spying our headteacher, Mr Costello, on the back row, thoroughly pleased our excited students.
They did not know which award they were to receive, and the entertainment beforehand nearly finished them off! Firstly, the Pin Award candidates were rewarded; each child was given a badge and special certificate by the Archbishop. Then it was the turn of the Bronze Awards and Joseph and Lewis marched proudly forward to receive their certificates and badges and to have their photographs taken with the Archbishop. Returning to their places, they took their certificates out of the envelope to show them off to us all.
The presentation of the Silver Awards saw Mia and Antonia nearly chewing their nails down to the quick. Couldn't they hurry up? A drama presentation of the requirements delayed the presentation even further. The two girls were absolutely white in anticipation. But, then the moment came and ... surprise! Shock! Horror! Candidates had to go up to receive their awards by themselves. (Well, Gold is given to those candidates who confidently lead others.)
Antonia went first to be congratulated by Archbishop Malcolm, then Mia - a small girl whose spirit is even larger than our Archbishop!
It is hard to express how proud we are of our students ... but I guess you can tell!
Mr Costello came to congratulate them all, very pleased with the courage and spirit shown by the students of his school. He even organised another private photograph with the archbishop!
And that is how you reward young people who are excellent Christians!
The Faith in Action scheme organised by the Catholic Youth Ministry Federation (CYMFed) is for young people aged 11 to 19 (still in secondary or higher education) from all faith backgrounds who are willing to reflect on their service action in the light of the Catholic faith.
Find out about the scheme and how you can take part to reward the wonderful efforts of your own amazing young people. The new website has all the information and resources you need.