The culmination of the students' experience was the Year 7 Mass, with all the readings rehearsed, the Prayer of the Faithful written, the Offertory Procession organised and the altar servers practised.
Year 7 students filed into the hall prepared and looking pristine. Brother Lukasz broke off from giving final instructions to the altar servers and began to check the presentation of the Mass on the screen.
We were very fortunate that a music group from St James’ Church, (our local parish, served by Salesians), came along too and the students sang with gusto under their leadership. Thank you all who came!
The altar servers looked solemnly angelic in their albs as they escorted the bishop down towards the altar: Year 7 children well trained by Brother Lukasz, not one of them putting a foot wrong. Brilliant! This was the high point of their year of training. Readers from Years 8 and 9 delivered messages from the Acts of the Apostles beautifully.
The bishop spoke about what it meant to be a part of the Salesian family. ‘Family’ was to be his theme for the day.
The Prayer of the Faithful was delivered with devout supplication to Mary, Help of Christians, exhorting the congregation to pray for all students of St John Bosco.
Proudly, our students brought down a scarf to represent all St John Bosco’s family – especially those present. Then a small box of soaps followed showing how we served others less fortunate than themselves: the soaps had been collected by our Junior SVP, and were in readiness for taking to St James’ SVP.
Following these gifts, we took to the altar the bread and wine which would be used in the Holy Sacrifice of this joyous Mass.
We had much to celebrate; a school being guided by the Church, with teachers who were dedicated to making the lives of their students richer in God’s love.
Later in the day, the bishop celebrated a Mass for the Staff. He had spent the day talking to us, listening to our problems and discussing possible solutions: our problems are not unique as we struggle to keep our faith alive and active.
We have to remember that no matter what we are a part of the family of God. He spoke about the diminishing attitudes towards religion so that fewer parents saw the value of Roman Catholic Education. It is necessary to unite people, especially youngsters, to engage the people using whatever methods necessary.
We are a great footballing city - witness the defeat of Tottenham Hotspur by Liverpool in Madrid. (Sorry, all you Spurs fans, I just had to mention that! I think the weather sympathised with you – it certainly shed enough tears that day), but people forget that many football teams were founded by the churches. It was parochial. Some teams, mentioning Everton, (we have to be fair) do a great deal for the youngsters and we should tap into this. Sort of 'the team who plays together stays together'.
Fortunately, we here at Savio are great exponents of the great game. We need to provide opportunities for Music and Drama, also: subjects that draw students together working for a common goal. Once young people are engaged in these ways, then we stand a real chance.
Bishop Tom’s visit provided us all with real encouragement for what we are doing. Staff and students sometimes need a good dose of inspiration and Bishop Tom certainly gave us that and we thank him.
As St John Bosco said:
‘Do you want to do a holy thing? A truly holy thing? Educate the young.’