Great big congratulations to Staff, Pupils and Governors of Our Lady and St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School, Wath-upon-Dearne, for the excellent report received after the visit of the Diocesan School Inspectors who commented, “Our Lady and St Joseph’s is a welcoming, caring and happy community which follows the example of Jesus in everyday life. “The extent to which pupils contribute to and benefit from the Catholic life of the school is outstanding. The quality of Collective Worship provided by the school is outstanding. The school environment is stimulating and vibrant, and illustrates how staff strive hard to provide the very best for their community. The overall effectiveness of Our Lady and St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School in providing Catholic Education is outstanding.” Pictured below, children from the school take part in the celebration of Mass at St Joseph’s Church.
Archives for February 2016
A paper by the Hallam Justice and Peace commission looking at our response to the migration crisis has been published here. (Bishop’s Commissions->Justice and Peace->Resources)
A school community has thanked its retiring headteacher for his contribution to children’s education and faith development. Alan Dewhurst retired as headteacher of St Marie’s School in Sheffield after almost 40 years in education. He will now work part-time for the Diocese of Hallam. Mr Dewhurst was presented with a papal blessing at his leaving Mass in recognition of his inspirational service to the school. He began his career as a newly-qualified teacher at St Anthony’s Middle School in Slough, Berkshire, in 1978, moving to Sacred Heart Primary School in Middlesex in 1986. He was appointed deputy head at Sacred Heart and then became head on 1994. In 2000 he moved north as the new headteacher at St Joseph’s Primary School in Matlock, Derbyshire. Mr Dewhurst took up the role at St Marie’s on Fulwood Road in Sheffield in 2009 and has been an extremely popular headteacher, finally retiring after 37 years in Catholic schools, with 21 years as a headteacher. At the Thanksgiving Mass for Mr Dewhurst, John Fernandes, the former deputy and new headteacher at St Marie’s, told him on behalf of staff, “Like everyone at St Marie’s we can’t imagine the school without you. “In the short time you have worked here we have all learnt so much from you and have so much to thank you for. Your encouragement, your trust, your support, your friendship, your faith and especially your leadership.” Mr Fernandes added, “Our very recent outstanding RE inspection report sums you up perfectly, ‘The inspirational headteacher is passionately committed to providing an outstanding education for every pupil in an inclusive, nurturing and happy environment shaped by Gospel values.’ “We will all miss your calm, controlled presence in school. On behalf of all the staff and children, may God bless you in your semi-retirement.”
The series of Lenten talks on the Passion of Jesus Christ being given by Fr John Ryan around the diocese is now available online . You can download the audio of each of the talks, and the text of Fr Ryan’s presentation from the Hallam Adult Formation Resources page, where you will find these under […]
St Francis Xavier Catholic Primary School has been waiting for two years to be able to repair and extend its historic, stone, boundary wall that is known to have been standing since at least 1860. It could have been replaced with a green palisade fence and the governors knew what the cost of that would have been, but what would the value of it be? They unanimously decided that the local stone wall should be repaired. This was not an easy task and it was difficult to find people qualified to tackle the task sensitively; stone walls are not easy to build well. Eventually a stonemason was found who fell in love with the wall and certainly showed the dedication and skill necessary to create a beautiful feature that will probably last for another 200 years. The original wall was beautiful but the British weather, together with some well-established trees, seriously tested its quality. It became badly bowed and had been repaired on a few occasions using red brick, which really spoiled it, so this was a fantastic opportunity to repoint, remove the red brick sections and raise the height of the wall to the necessary 2.1 metres. After receiving advice from a number of sources, including helpful staff at the council, local builders and a local stonemason, it was obvious that the wall needed to be completely knocked down and rebuilt from scratch using the original stones. Those stones on the reverse side of the wall were used to repair the brick sections on the front and provide the extra height needed, without incurring additional costs for materials. This worked very well indeed but given the size of the wall, 60 metres by 2.1 metres, this created an extremely large jigsaw puzzle because the stones are larger at the bottom and get smaller towards the top of the wall. The stonemason, John Lockheart from Tickhill, had to complete this jigsaw before he could even begin his enormous labour of love. It soon became apparent that this beautiful stone front needed an equally high-quality reverse side so the render was selected to complement the stonework. This monumental undertaking needed to be commemorated and celebrated so what better person to do this than the school’s Chaplain, Fr Pat O’Connor, who is retiring soon. He has already been decorated for his services to school governance by Doncaster MBC and this will be another significant legacy after his 14 years as the school’s Chaplain. The children were impressed with the wall for a number of reasons and some found it difficult to imagine that it was the same stone. The old, lower, oddly-shaped wall has been included in the curriculum over the years and now the new one will stimulate many new lessons, especially maths. One group of the children, after closely looking at the construction, estimated that the stonemason and his skilful team of two had laid approximately 3,400 pieces of local sandstones of varying sizes. This new wall is going to be of equal historical significance and will probably last even longer, particularly as the council insisted it was built to very high specifications, including deeper footings (which had to include little bridges for tree roots to grow), concrete centre section between the two wall skins and buttresses every 8 metres (which actually add to its beauty). The finished product looks spectacular and was celebrated at the school’s Mass of welcome before being blessed by Fr Pat. One of the adults at the celebration said, “We may be in the middle of Balby and surrounded by houses, but looking at that wall and with a little imagination you could almost believe you were in the Derbyshire countryside.”
A parishioner in Doncaster brings to our attention the charitable organisation, Mary’s Meals, which provides a nutritious meal and also an education for primary school children in some of the poorest countries in the world. The cost per academic year to feed and educate these children is £12.20, which equates to £1 per month. It’s so inexpensive because they source the food locally from the farmers. Also, the schools are encouraged to grow crops and plant fruit trees and, where possible, rice fields and fish farms. Mary’s Meals provide the vehicles which collect the produce from the farmers. They provide cooking facilities and equipment, along with a comprehensive training programme for the volunteers to ensure they are fully conversant and capable in all aspects of the feeding programme. The vast majority of these volunteers are the local people living in the villages, therefore the parents, relatives and neighbours of the starving children. The volunteers are guided so as to manage and run the feeding programmes themselves in order to take ownership and responsibility. Site visits by Mary’s Meals monitoring officers are carried out at least twice per week. They check that the programmes are running efficiently and that hygiene and stocks are well maintained, thus bringing the whole community together, restoring dignity and giving hope of a future free from poverty. During the school holidays the community pulls together to feed the children. The meals provided are analysed to ensure there are sufficient nutriments to sustain each child for the day; otherwise a measure of vitamin supplement is added to the cooking pots. Meals usually consist of rice with vegetables or beans, or a kind of porridge and fish where possible. The countries in the project so far are Haiti, South Sudan, Uganda, India, Burma, Ecuador, Liberia, Benin, Zambia, Kenya, Thailand and Malawi (where 25% of all primary school children are fed by Mary’s Meals). Currently, 1,035,000 children between the ages of 4 to 11 years old are saved from starvation. Estimates suggest a further 57 million children are in desperate need of food and an education. For every £1 donated to Mary’s Meals, 93 pence goes directly to charitable activities. There are very few paid staff. They rely on an army of volunteers. The founder and chief executive officer is a Scotsman called Magnus Macfarlane-Barrow. In 2011 his charitable works earned him an OBE. In 2015 he was named by Time Magazine as one of the hundred most influential people in the world, alongside Pope Francis. Magnus believes our Holy Mother planted the seed in his heart to feed the starving children, regardless of their faith group, or being of no faith. Magnus continues his vocation, with the help of his wife and seven children. Mary’s Meals headquarters: Craig Lodge, Dalmally. Argyll, Scotland, PA33 1AR, tel: 01838 200605, email: email@example.com, website: www.marysmeals.org. The Backpack Project Many children receiving Mary’s Meals don’t have basic learning tools, such as pencils and notepads. You can support them to get the most out of their lessons by donating a backpack full of the things they need. For many, a Mary’s Meals backpack will be the only gift they’ll have ever had. Anyone can take part in the Backpack Project. It’s a fun activity for schools, clubs and families to get involved in. If you’d like more information call 0141 3367094 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Handy hints for filling a backpack Clothing for children aged between 4 and 12 years is suitable. Second hand items are fine if they are in good condition. Please label the backpack to indicate whether it is suitable for a boy or a girl, and suggest what age. Please don’t include any liquids and don’t be tempted to add any other gifts, such as toys or sweets, as these can cause problems with Customs during delivery. Items to include Notepads, pens, pencils, crayons, eraser, ruler, sharpener, pencil case, towel, shorts or skirt, t-shirt or dress, flip-flops or sandals, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, small ball, spoon. Diocesan School Supports Mary’s Meals St John Fisher Catholic Primary School, Hackenthorpe is a supporter of Mary’s Meals. The school says of the charity, “Mary’s Meals is a no frills charity with a simple idea that works to provide one good meal in a place of learning in countries that are less developed than our own.” The community of St John Fisher have been raising money for the charity and they were also involved in the Mary’s Meals Backpack Project. Backpacks were filled with stationery, a plastic spoon, a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, a small ball and a towel. The backpacks were then sent out to the children.
St Wilfrid’s are indebted for the help of the Sheffield Branch of a global company, SDL, who, as well as doing much fundraising for St Wilfrid’s, also provide volunteers. Pictured below are workers from SDL, along with clients of St Wilfrid’s, with the contents of a gardening hamper they generously donated. The workers, who attend in different groups throughout the year, do tremendous work on the allotment and are becoming big favourites with the clients. The allotment produces abundant amounts of fruit and vegetables for the Centre, grown by the clients under the tutorage of Sue Stringer, Independent Living Tutor, pictured below.
Hundreds gathered at St Wilfrid’s Centre on 7 January to celebrate 25 years of changing thousands of lives. Regulars at the Centre for the homeless, vulnerable and socially excluded were chatting and reminiscing around a large buffet prepared by the staff and volunteers. Special guests included Lord Mayor of Sheffield, Councillor Talib Hussain and secret millionaire, Simrin Bakshi Choudhrie, who is a Patron of the Centre. In a speech, Mr Hussain said, “I’m really blessed to be here, it’s a great honour. There is a wonderful crew here, the volunteers are always smiling and the people use this Centre as their home. “They are the lucky ones – this winter, when somebody is sleeping rough outside, if they get a place like here it is heaven I think.” On 7 January, 1991, the award-winning charity opened its doors to those in need and it has been thriving ever since. The Centre has evolved from a place that served a cup of tea and a sandwich to vulnerable people to a Centre which provides welfare facilities and a full personal development programme run by the staff, together with over 100 volunteers. Clients between 18 and 65 years old attend various workshops and classes that promote independence and self confidence. Director of St Wilfrid’s Centre, Kevin Bradley has been working for the charity since its opening. He said, “Anybody who cannot cope with life – whatever colour, creed or nationality they are – is welcome at St Wilfrid’s and that’s why we’re so special. “I think that we’ve found the secret of making people feel better; I don’t know how we’ve found this or how we reached it but we definitely have found it.” The Centre helps a variety of people; some have addictions, health issues or learning difficulties. There are also homeless clients, European migrants and many more. Sam O’Connell, aged 48, came to the Centre at her worst. She said, “The Centre has saved my life, I would be dead without St Wilfrid’s. I had a lot of health problems, I used to take drugs and never sleep or eat. “Since coming here I’ve made a lot of friends, the people who work here really help you and look after you. If I’m down they will talk to me. I don’t take drugs anymore, only medication.” Another client, who did not wish to be named, was homeless and suffering from mental illness before attending the Centre. He said, “The Welfare Manager used to give me some food and after that I started getting involved with classes. I take English and Photography classes, which I really enjoy. “The Centre provides warm and high quality food to all of us and I don’t know how to thank them for that. “I have become much more confident and I’m able to think; I couldn’t think before because I was so down and I had mental issues.” The Centre has been very rewarding for both clients and staff. During the celebration some volunteers expressed their gratitude towards St Wilfrid’s, which has changed their lives. Volunteer, Jimmy Cahill started working as a woodwork teacher at the Centre with his wife, Patricia, 17 years ago. He said, “I’ve probably got more out of this place than the clients have. “I used to say, ‘They need sorting out and they need to pull themselves together,’ but I know now that a lot of them have horrific stories to tell and I realise that I’m far more sympathetic now. “I was intolerant before coming to St Wilfrid’s. But not any more, it’s changed me for the better.” Mary McGough, who has been volunteering for 10 years now, said, “We’re here in a helping role but they give far more back to us as volunteers than you can imagine. “It’s changed my life, it’s the best thing that’s happened to me and I hope that I’ll be able to continue being a volunteer for a long time.” Kevin added, “We have changed a lot of lives here together with the volunteers and staff as a team. “It’s very rewarding for me, all the riches in the world couldn’t buy this feeling. I’m a millionaire times over, not in terms of money, but in love and thoughts and you cannot buy that. I am proud of each and every one of our clients, they are the winners and perhaps to be a winner, you have to be a loser first.” In a speech made during the Silver Jubilee ceremony, Kevin announced he will be retiring this year. He said, “At the end of June I will be retiring, my work is done and whoever comes in to succeed me will be bigger and better and will come in with fresher ideas to make this place go further, because you can’t stop a snowball rolling which has the hand of God behind it, it’s not humanly possible to do that.” The news was welcomed with gasps from his audience, who have grown very fond of the award-winning Director. Volunteer Christine Barker said, “Kevin Bradley is a wonderful man, his work has changed so many lives.” St Wilfrid’s continues to expand as plans for a residential unit have gone through. The Centre has fundraised £2 million in three years thanks to trust grants and individuals who raise money through different activities. The unit will be called ‘Home at St Wilfrid’s’ and clients will live there for up to two years. Throughout the two years, residents will attend classes and workshops at the Day Centre, where they will learn various skills which will enable employment and independent living. Kevin said, “Their lives will get better, their confidence will grow and after the two years we will be able to move them on into their own flats.” Photographs from the top: Bishop Ralph, Kevin Bradley, Director of St Wilfrid’s, Sr Evelyn, first Director of the Centre, Simrin Choudhrie, Patron of the Centre and Mgr William Kilgannon, Founder of the Centre; the Celebration Mass, concelebrated […]
This month Bishop Ralph is leading a Diocesan Pilgrimage to the Holy Land, during which the pilgrims will be staying for three nights in Bethlehem. St Martha’s House, is situated in Bethlehem and it is hoped the pilgrims will visit and share Mass with local Christians. The world has an idealised view of Bethlehem. It is associated with Christmas and the events of 2000 years ago. Many forget that Bethlehem is also a living community facing the everyday challenges of everyday life in a new and emerging state – Palestine. Peace has not yet come there. There is little industry and few resources. The main industry is tourism and in times of conflict or difficulty the tourists and pilgrims do not come. The economy suffers, unemployment rises still higher and poverty increases. In this cycle of events the elderly are among those who suffer most. It is hard to find work, especially so for women. Widows and those who are alone are particularly vulnerable. The absence of welfare systems such as pensions, healthcare and social care impacts most on the elderly. The Bethlehem ‘image’ masks the problems of everyday living for its elderly; as such they are, in many ways, a forgotten people. St Martha’s House Local Palestinian volunteers have established a registered charity to provide a day ‘Care and Repair’ centre at St Martha’s House. Its ethos is Christian but it is open to all. Its resources are meagre. The rented rooms are cramped and admit only 22 people at any one time. Some help is provided by other charities but even with outside help St Martha’s House can only cater for 37 women. The list of those who are known to be in need is many times that number. There is no provision for elderly men. St Martha’s extends a compassionate hand of support to poor and vulnerable elderly women in Bethlehem. Here ladies meet for companionship, food and mutual support. Without St Martha’s, and its limited programmes, many elderly women would literally be abandoned. The local community cannot extend its support or make St Martha’s House a permanent feature. They simply do not have the resources. The objective of the Hallam (Bethlehem) Fund is to make St Martha’s House permanent, providing support to many more people, including elderly gentlemen. Making St Martha’s permanent in Bethlehem will have a number of benefits which include: The centre will be able to extend the help that is provided to the needy Elderly. The elderly will be afforded some dignity. Its presence will also assist in making it possible for the younger generation of Christians to remain in the Holy Land, as the burden of caring for the elderly is eased. It will give hope to the younger people while they are waiting for peace to come. The success of this appeal will enable the first, necessary steps in providing permanent care and support for those who are alone, abandoned, and/or without income as they struggle with the challenges of daily living. Visit www.hallambethlehemfund.co.uk for more information.
Bishop Ralph and the Trustees are delighted to report that our Diocesan Charity has reached £100,000 and here’s a BIG THANK YOU from the Trustees to everyone who has contributed to this achievement. It means we are getting much closer to ensuring that the care that St Martha’s House provides can be extended permanently for the desperately needy people in Bethlehem. We know there is more to do and together we will do it. THANK YOU AGAIN