Spiritual Life of Our School
The school’s Catholic identity is extremely strong and its mission statement underpins all school policy and practice. It embodies ‘Faith in Action’. All members of staff care deeply and holistically for each child; pastoral care is exceptional. It is reflected in the inclusive and welcoming nature of the school and in the caring and considerate relationships between all members of the school community - Section 48 Diocesan Inspection Report - October 2021
St Catherine’s is a community that works together to create a place where students grow in awareness that every one of us is loved by God and precious in his eyes. Discovering and deepening personal vocation is supported by being a praying community. We support our students to find different ways that will enable them to share God’s love with others.
The liturgical calendar supports this commitment throughout the school year. Induction to the school in Year 7 begins with the assurance that "You are loved" in a Special Mass of welcome. Parents and carers join our students for this Mass of Welcome. Within their first term at St Catherine’s Year 7 enjoy a day of retreat, allowing a day of prayer and reflection. The retreat also provides a special opportunity for them to get to know the other members of their form and their form tutor.
On the Feast of All Saints, the whole school gathers for Mass and all are invited to embrace their personal vocation. We are encouraged to become the saints what Pope Francis calls ‘the saints next door’. In all masses we celebrate scripture and faith using our gifts and talents in music, dance, signing and other creative expression.
Advent is signposted with the Advent wreath and a purple cloth over the Cross in our dining hall. Through assemblies and form time prayer, we allow time to centre ourselves on Christ, to prepare for his ‘coming’ at Christmas. We are particularly inspired by Mary's example at this time in her generous response in bringing Christ into the world. During the Christmas liturgy, students are reminded that they are deeply loved and called to become transform the world.
In the Spring term, the Chaplain nurtures seventy Year 10 students as they start their formation programme as Prayer Leaders. They are encouraged to explore God’s call for them and are invited to attend a Prayer Leader retreat at Kintbury or attend the Flame Conference at Wembley. Prayer Leaders are also invited to enrol for the Faith in Action Award Silver Level which is offered by CYMFED. This formation supports them to pray with younger students in our school community. Prayer leaders are an essential support and inspiration for form time prayer.
All Year 8 students have the opportunity to visit Aylesford for a day of retreat which focusses on and celebrates God's faithful and unconditional love. Every year, our students express their enjoyment and appreciation of this opportunity.
The development of prayer and meditation is supported by the opportunity for different year groups to visit the chapel during an R.E lesson. During this time, students experience different forms of prayer and reflection. Teaching students to appreciate silence and prayer supports and deepens their faith development.
Throughout the liturgical year we invite our whole community to join with us through the weekly prayer and reflection in our weekly newsletter, Contact. We also provide times for staff to pray in our staff meetings, through Lectio Divina before school and in our masses in the chapel where students and staff come together to pray and celebrate the Eucharist.
During the summer term our Year 8 students visit Aylesford for a time of prayer and reflection. The day is led by the retreat team from St. Vincent's and they take part in a variety of different sessions. The workshops remind them of their value and importance as young women created in the image of God. Students are involved in dance, art, reflection and prayer.
During the summer term Year 9 students can visit St. Cassian’s Centre Kintbury for a residential retreat. The time at Kintbury is described as a time for faith, fun and friendship. Students have an opportunity to work with the young volunteers who live at Kintbury. These volunteers are an outstanding witness of faith and commitment. Our students participate in times of prayer, meditation, and a group Mass. They take responsibility for preparing different parts of the Mass and they always express their appreciation of their time at Kintbury.
Please see our School Retreat Page HERE.
We continue to enjoy a beautiful newly furbished chapel. This space enables students to express their faith and enjoy friendship and support. The chapel has provided a wonderful setting for the different activities that strengthen the spiritual life of our school.
During the last four years ninety upper school students have volunteered to become Prayer Leaders. Thirty three students from the current Year 10 applied this year. These students will now begin a time of preparation which will include: developing interpersonal skills, reflecting on scripture and having opportunities to pray with others. Year 7 students will be invited to come to the chapel and meet with Year 10 students for a time of intercessory prayer. Year 11 Prayer leaders are often asked to lead reflection and meditation during Year Group Assemblies. This is an excellent opportunity for students to witness to their faith and commitment.
At the start of the autumn term we invit our Year 7, Parents and Carers to join us for a Mass of Welcome. The Mass is a celebration of their arrival at St. Catherine’s and a reminder that God’s guidance is always with them.
Also in the Autumn Term all our Year 7 students visit the chapel for a day of retreat. Their form leaders accompany them and the day begins with a liturgy of welcome led by our Year 9 students. Throughout the day Year 7 have opportunities to reflect upon their new school and their first weeks at St. Catherine's. This is an excellent opportunity to get to know their form leader and each other. The school chapel provides a wonderful setting for the day.
Throughout the academic year our school liturgies at Christmas, Lent, Easter and St. Catherine’s day are prepared by students and staff. Our Gospel Choir leads the music and students lead dance, prayer and reflection. Last academic year our liturgies reflected upon our call to serve each other. We consider Jesus' self-forgetfulness and his humility. Our vocation as Christians continually inspire us to reach out to others and to follow the example of St. Catherine of Sienna who committed her life to the service of God’s people.