The first half of the Michaelmas Term 2022 at St Augustine’s Priory was filled with a variety of events. The following highlights give just a taste of all that happened.
1. Year 7’s Adventure at High Ashurst: Flying High!
Tara in Year 7 reports on the high excitement visit of Year 7 in September to the High Ashurst outdoor learning and development centre: ‘The visit to High Ashurst was a fantastic opportunity to make daring manoeuvres in thrilling activities with the assistance of our instructors who gave us the courage to give them a go. We had such delightful food that revived us, and got us back in business. We did challenging courses, Woodland Skills, and even High Ropes, and we also had the time to think about teamwork, which is all about communicating, listening, and helping each other.
We also lit fires and the fog of the fire made everything look creepy! High Ashurst is something we would do again because it has crazy, fun activities, but also made us step out of our comfort zone, to encourage us to try things that we thought we could never do. The fact that we shared cabins and we could watch a movie together enabled us to undertake new relationships. This trip helped us push ourselves to the limits and succeed in jumping from a high place, which was a challenging part of the trip. Even though it was just one night, Year 7 really enjoyed it’.
2. Changing the World: Travel Scholarship recipients
Every year, Year 12 students at St Augustine’s Priory are encouraged to apply for the school’s Travel Scholarship. This gives pupils the opportunity to change the world. Simran, now in Year 13, takes up the story. ‘Towards the end of last year, I applied for a Travel Scholarship offered to Year 12 students by the school. I saw this as an excellent opportunity to carry out a project that is very close to my heart. This project was inspired by my maternal grandmother who has a condition known as Glaucoma. Glaucoma is a genetic eye condition that causes permanent and irreversible damage to the optic nerve owing to a build-up of fluid, increasing pressure in the eye. If Glaucoma is not diagnosed early and treated in time, can cause blindness. My grandma only has 2% of her vision in her right eye and 30% in the left eye.
I decided to liaise with an eye hospital called ‘Sadguru Netra Chikitsalaya’, that my grandma regularly receives treatment from, which is in a village called Chitrakoot, in a remote part of India. My project involved launching a Glaucoma Detection Camp for villagers in the surrounding areas of Chitrakoot. I would spend 5 days volunteering in the eye hospital, which would include designing a questionnaire for the patients who come for various treatments or inquiries.
My journey included travelling to Mumbai from London on 12th July 2022. After spending a couple of nights with family in Mumbai, I took another flight to Prayagraj (Allahabad), which is the closest airport to Chitrakoot. A car from the hospital met my grandma, my mother and I from the airport as Chitrakoot was still a three hour car journey from Prayagraj. Upon arrival, I designed the questionnaire straight away, so that I could begin screening patients immediately. Then, I was introduced to the hospital staff who were going to guide and assist me in the launching of my project. Through this Travel Scholarship, I was able to interact with a wide range of people and help spread awareness of Glaucoma. In my free time, I visited nearby temples, a cow shelter and a supermarket run by women from nearby villages. I am so thankful for this experience as it was extremely enlightening and humbling. Furthermore, owing to my fundraising efforts and lots of generosity from well wishers, I was able to raise £3,500. A large portion of this money (£760) came from the school and the Parents’ Association supporting me in organising a raffle, where I collected prizes from various well-known brands and companies for free, whilst sponsoring my Travel Scholarship cause.
The entire amount of money will go towards an annual outreach camp, which will involve a team of doctors and nurses going to surrounding villages and testing potential patients. These villagers will then receive any treatment they may need at the eye hospital and also be transported back to their homes, free of charge. I have decided to name this outreach camp after my grandmother and this legacy will continue on through the family.
I would like to thank St Augustine’s Priory, the teachers and the Parents’ Association for all the support they have given me and for granting me this wonderful opportunity to do something so amazing and make a difference to the lives of many. Thank you to anyone who has contributed to this cause, I really appreciate all the generosity!
Two other recipients of the Travel Scholarship, Celeste and Rania, travelled to Brazil where they worked with a charity in the state of Goiás, training local prisoners the art of embroidery. The prisoners are paid for each item completed and also given three days off their sentence. Celeste and Rania used the money raised before their travels to buy a nutritious meal for all the prisoners.
As Celeste commented, ‘St Augustine’s Priory has taught us the values of redemption and forgiveness, no matter what’.
These students embraced the opportunity given to them and, with courage and determination, have taken steps in ensuring that their actions and commitment have changed people’s lives.
3. Be Spirited Day: A day of reflection and activity.
Years 1 – 6 held their ‘Be Spirited’ retreat on Wednesday 14th September. Beginning with writing prayers for Queen Elizabeth II, a time to reflect on her life and say thank you for her 70 years of service, the children then went on to spend the day focussing on nature and creation. Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ helps us all to realise our responsibilities towards our world and, using this as their basis, the children took part in a variety of activities to enable them to connect with the beauty of God’s creation and understand the care they owe to it.
If children connect with nature and creation, they will experience a sense of awe and wonder, and realise the beauty and centrality of God’s creation in their lives. Pope Francis’ Laudato Si is a very powerful message, which helps us to realise what we need to do to take responsibility for our world and care for God’s creation. The day’s activities were planned to help our children to achieve this, and build a deeper understanding and empathy for God’s Creation.
In the Chapel, the children took part in a Laudato Si Collective Worship and also took time to reflect and say thank you for the 70 years of loyal and faithful service that Queen Elizabeth II gave to our country. They wrote a prayer for her, her family, King Charles III, and the people of the United Kingdom and left them by the Altar. The children also wrote pledges for the earth, and said what they will try to do more.
4. Liturgies for Queen Elizabeth II: A Commemoration.
We marked the death of our late Queen, Elizabeth II, by holding liturgies at St Augustine’s Priory. At both, the first for the Seniors and the second for the Preps, the Chapel was packed with pupils and staff. The Priory Sixth led the liturgies and they began with beautiful singing from our Chamber Choir with a rendition of ‘Steal Away’.
Members of the Sixth Form then read Psalm 121, ‘A Song of Ascents’, and this was followed by the moving Song of Simeon from the Gospel of Luke, so fitting in a service for someone of deep faith and faithfulness, who lived a life of service:
‘At last, all-powerful Master,
You give leave to your servant
to go in peace, according to your promise.’
After this, the congregation joined in the hymn, Living Lord:
‘Lord Jesus Christ,
I would come to You,
Live my life for You,
Son of God.
All Your commands I know are true,
Your many gifts will make me new,
Into my life Your power breaks through,
Prayers were then said for the repose of the soul of H.M. The Queen and for the Royal Family and, lastly, for the King. The liturgies then ended with the National Anthem and everyone departed in silence.
Eternal rest, grant to her O Lord,
And let Perpetual light shine upon her.
May she rest in peace.
5. The Chiswick Young People’s Poetry Competition: Prize-winners announced.
The Chiswick Young People’s Poetry Competition takes place each year and is part of the Chiswick Book Festival. This year’s festival was dedicated to the memory of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and in thanksgiving for her life.
On Friday 9th September the 2022 winners of the Young People’s Poetry Competition were announced at the prize-giving held at the Church of St Michael All Angels in Chiswick. The prizes were presented by David Wood, described by The times as ‘the nation’s children’s dramatist’. In the Year 7 category, we were delighted that St Augustine’s Priory pupils were among the prize winners. Sophie was joint first with ‘Starry Night’, a poem inspired by the Van Gogh painting, Shanay was joint second with her poem ‘Fighting for Ukraine’ and Aliyah was third with her poem entitled, ‘Story of Cinderella’. These pupils are now in Year 8 and it was wonderful to see that their talent and hard work had borne such results. Congratulations to all three pupils on their achievement.
6. The Relics of St Bernadette of Lourdes: A privileged visit.
This September and October, the relics of St Bernadette of Lourdes travelled from the Upper Basilica in Lourdes to visit every Diocese in the UK. On Tuesday 6th September a group of our Community and Faith Life Prefects, accompanied by Mrs McDermott, Head of Faith Life, and Miss Johnson, were privileged to be invited to the visit of the relics to St Mary’s University in Twickenham. The Catholic shrine of Lourdes in Southern France was established after Saint Bernadette saw a vision of the Virgin Mary who asked Bernadette to build a place of pilgrimage for the sick to ask God’s help and Our Lady’s intercession.
Mrs McDermott continues, ‘We were fortunate to be invited to attend the Mass for schools at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, as part of the tour of the UK of the relics of St Bernadette. When we arrived at St Mary’s we waited on the piazza outside the Chapel with the other school groups for the arrival of the relics. The relics are being transported in a specially branded van and we saw the care with which the reliquary was treated as it was assembled to be carried into the Chapel. The procession began with a blessing by Fr Peter Newby, the chaplain of St Mary’s, and we followed the relics into the Chapel. As Gabriella in Year 7 said, “I liked seeing the relics being carried and how they were kept in such holy conditions.”
The Mass started with a beautiful hymn sung by the Gospel Choir of St Richard Reynolds Catholic College, which really set the joyful tone for the rest of Mass. Sze Wing in Year 8 said, “What I liked about this Mass was the music, they used the original prayer and made it into a song, all of our voices combined sounded beautiful.” Gabriella in Year 7 also appreciated the choir, “I also really enjoyed the powerful singing that the choir displayed.” As did Adele in Year 8,”I really enjoyed the whole atmosphere at the Mass. The actual Mass was amazing, the singing was the best part, I think.”
Caitlin in Year 10 read the first reading, so we were represented wonderfully by her during the Liturgy of the Word. Many of the pupils also learnt a great deal about St Bernadette from Fr Peter’s homily, as Caterina in Year 11 recalls, “where the priest talked about the bravery and perseverance of St Bernadette in convincing the priests to build a sanctuary for Mary.”
Angela in Year 7 also learnt a great deal from Fr Peter’s homily, “In the RE visit I learnt that St Bernadette was a young woman who had seen Mary, Mother of God. Mary told her she wanted a church built on that spot and she revealed some important secrets to Bernadette. Bernadette told these secrets to her parish priest and told him about what Mary wanted. He didn’t believe her but Bernadette wouldn’t give up.” Gabriella in Year 7 also told me she, “found the Mass itself very interesting because the priest’s homily was all about St Bernadette and I learnt about how she was very persistent.”
After Mass, the students were given a pilgrim bag which contained some votive candles for them to light and place at the mini grotto outside the Chapel and they could offer their own prayers during this ceremony. Sze Wing in Year 8 added that, “I liked the part of lighting the three candles and saying our prayers to God.” They also received rosary beads in their pilgrim pack and so, after lunch, Niamh in Year 10 asked Fr Peter to bless them, so he brought the girls back into the Chapel and blessed them with holy water from Lourdes.
Caterina in Year 11 connected the experience of pilgrimage to her academic studies, “This visit has helped me understand the importance that pilgrimage has on the life of a Catholic, and I was able to connect this to my prior knowledge from GCSE RE. I have extended my understanding through a fun and different experience, which will make recalling this useful story much easier for when I will sit my exam”.
Before heading back to school, the girls were taken to Radnor Gardens by the River Thames for a milkshake, or Earl Grey tea for the more discerning palette, as a ‘thank you’ from the school for all they do in supporting the school as Community and Faith Life Prefects.’
Categories: Faith Life Junior Nursery Prep Priory Post Senior Sixth Form The Association Uncategorised Whole School