Throughout the week there have been school assemblies held in our High School – now referred to as a Catholic Technology College – what an interesting experience! Observing all, it is clear to me that miracles occur in our three parish schools: the values of God are put before the children, there is regular prayer, and each school, different from the others, has its own sense of family. What is so wonderful about the latter is that they are not trying to be a “family” because they need to impress parents, inspectors and the like. Rather it is the fruit of the presence of the risen Christ who promised to be among those who gather in his name. For the majority of the pupils, some of whom belong to other Christian denominations, it is where they find Christ and where their experience of Church begins.

One day, I found myself amused somewhat after assembly, coming across this boy who was one I thought I recognised, and we had a great conversation. He was not in class and it did not cross my mind to ask why; he had an engaging and friendly smile and we left each other after our two minute conversation in good spirits. Later, passing by again, I saw his year teacher with him, and clearly the conversation, still friendly, had another focus. She told me that he was, in fact, a lad who found school hard work – had moved around schools, and was now having to have carefully chosen, individual attention.

So I left amused, gratified, and realising the challenges facing those who have the vocation to be in education today. It was also notable how the year sevens (11 – 12 year olds) are unformed, spiritually, while after 5 years in school, the pupils of year 11 (15 – 16) are more developed, humanly and spiritually. However, even for these, there is still a long way to go – the learning for life on the holy journey to God finishes only when we have the joy of meeting our Maker. I ‘bumped into’ an older parishioner after one such morning assembly, on the road outside Church: he told me his first prayer each day is: “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, make me a good person this day, the first new day of my journey in life.”

The assemblies were all about St. Therese of Lisieux, and the realisation that she, who was immersed in God through her faith, hope and love, can inspire us all to share those qualities in a world where there is a distinct lack of those virtues outside the community of faith. Even those within that community may find these virtues weak in themselves. God can work his miracles in us, and my prayer for all our children, teachers and those involved in our schools is that St. Therese, and all the other saints, will pray to God for us to strengthen our faith, hope and love. Thousands of people have been to visit St. Therese’s relics on their tour around England, and I suspect they have been led to Jesus in their patient waiting in queues (up to 5 hours) to share in the life of this extraordinary young 24 year old girl who died in 1897.

October is the month devoted to the Holy Rosary, and each day in the High School, they have a voluntary decade of the Rosary at break time. I found this wonderful help as, each day, I could encourage the children to attend that 3 or 4 minute session just to pray.