Each year Mission Together produce new resources to help schools journey though the season of Lent. This year, in support of The Year of the Word, The God Who Speaks our Lent liturgies, activities, and popular classroom calendar will place greater emphasis on key Lenten scriptures and invite children to draw closer to Jesus – the Word made Flesh – through greater reflection on His words and actions.
The image above was taken at Little Eden, a residential home for children and young people in South Africa. Thanks to the help of Catholic schools and parishes, Little Eden has been supported by our prayers and sharing for over 15 years. A young resident of Little Eden, Bright, features in this year’s Lent liturgy.
2020 marks TheYear of the Word: The God Who Speaks, an initiative of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. As scripture is foundational to the life of the Catholic Church, the Year of the Word’s vision is to celebrate, share and live out our faith through deeper scriptural engagement.
In support, all our resources this year will place greater emphasis on scripture and invite children to draw closer to Jesus – the Word made Flesh – through greater reflection on His words and actions. Our Lent Liturgies and popular Lent classroom calendar encourage pupils to explore key Lenten scriptures and are available to download free here.
The Year of the Word marks the tenth anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Exhortation, Verbum Domini (The Word of the Lord) and the 1,600 years since the death of Saint Jerome – who translated the Bible into Latin. The year started on the Feast of Saint Jerome, 30 September 2019, and runs until 31 December 2020.
Every year Missio, our parent charity, run a Christmas Appeal benefiting a Mission Together children’s project. This year the focus is on Nazareth House.
Nazareth House is in a poor area of South Africa, with low employment, acute poverty and high rates of HIV. It provides a home for children who can’t stay with their families. Many have been orphaned or abandoned; some are learning to live with HIV.
These children are amongst the lucky ones; placed in Nazareth House, where the Sisters of Nazareth can care for them. But because the house is in a poor and unstable area, power cuts are common. They can last for hours. The children can’t do their homework, read or play. And they’re afraid; anxious that life beyond the security gates might creep in when there is no light.
The Sisters of Nazareth need a generator: their very own power supply so the fear that comes when the lights go out need never come again. And you can help us provide it.
2019 has been a truly special year for the worldwide Church family. Pope Francis declared October to be an ‘Extraordinary Month of Mission’ (EMM). Its aim: to encourage all members of our Catholic community to recognise themselves as missionary disciples, working and praying together to share God’s love with everyone, everywhere. At Mission Together we’ve been inspired by the response to EMM from schools and parishes around the country. St Peter and St Paul Primary School and Parish in Yeadon, Leeds Diocese, provided a brilliant example.
A whole Month for Mission
Working together, Mrs Angela Filarowski (RE Lead) and Fr John Carlise, devised a timetable of liturgies, activities, and assemblies to explore the four main aims of EMM:
To encourage a deeper relationship with Jesus through prayer.
To be inspired by the actions of our saints, martyrs and living missionaries.
To increase support of overseas mission
To increase understanding of mission.
EMM began on Sunday 29th September with a Parish Mass at St Peter and St Paul’s, animated by young people from the parish. As the month continued, pupils learned about St Thérèse of Lisieux, Patron of Missionaries, and how we can all follow her little way of kindness. They learned about the charity Mission Together, and how through prayer and sharing, children are showing the world that we are all part of God’s family, a family that Jesus asks us to love and care for.
Uniting school, home and parish
Pupils also received with a Mission Rosary and learned how to use the different coloured beads to pray for children in different continents. In an open classroom ‘Stay and Pray’ session, parents were invited to pray the Mission Rosary with their children – just one of many prayer times and liturgies organised to unite school, home and parish during this special month.
Other highlights of EMM at St Peter and St Paul included a colourful cake sale, a mini world football tournament, involving pupils and parents, and the composition of a beautiful hymn This is Our Mission, sung to great effect during a moving pupil Holy Hour.
It’s never too late to start your mission!
October is now over. But EMM doesn’t need to stop. It was intended to be a springboard; the beginnings of a revival of mission in the Church. Schools and parishes inspired by St Peter and St Paul, Yeadon can still hold their own mission events in the months ahead.
We want to say a big thank you to St Peter and St Paul School and Parish for all their EMM efforts, and for all schools who have embraced the call to be missionaries of God’s love in the world. Your enthusiasm for mission clearly puts the words of Pope Francis into practice:
‘The Church which “goes forth” is a community of missionary disciples who take the first step, who are involved and supportive, who bear fruit and rejoice.’
2019 has been a truly special year for the worldwide Church family. Pope Francis declared October to be an ‘Extraordinary Month of Mission’ (EMM). Its aim: to encourage all members of our Catholic community to recognise themselves as missionary disciples, working and praying together to share God’s love with everyone, everywhere.
At Mission Together, we’ve been inspired and humbled by the Church family’s response to EMM2019. In big and small ways, individuals and communities have been sharing their personal missions. And a global social media campaign has seen thousands of people stepping up and proclaiming their mission to the world.
Mission is alive and thriving!
As always, our children and young people have led the way! What amazing missions we’ve witnessed! From personal commitments to pick up litter, be kind and protect the environment, to assemblies and displays created by pupils to involve their whole schools and communities in prayer, fundraising and outreach, Mission is alive and well and thriving in the younger generation.
All throughout October, Missio has been proud and honoured to celebrate Mission with schools around England and Wales. We’ve been able to share and learn from these brilliant pupils and their dedicated teachers. Here are just a few of the many, many Masses and initiatives that have been happening throughout October.
Celebrating St Thérèse in Westminster
On 2 October, we joined about 350 pupils from 24 schools from Westminster diocese in the Cathedral. What better way to start the EMM than with a special Mass to celebrate the Feast of St Thérèse of Lisieux, patroness of mission and missionaries.
In his sermon, Missio’s National Director, Fr Tony Chantry, explained to the congregation what Mission means. He shared the story of Johannes, a young boy from South Africa whom many children will recognise from their fundraising for Mission Together this year.
Thank you, Westminster, for the warm welcome and participation!
Fundraising for Mission in Northampton
A whopping 850 pupils (45 schools) attended a special EMM2019 Mass in Northampton with Bishop Peter Doyle. The Mass took place at St Mary’s Church Dunstable. Schools in the diocese presented Mission Together with a cheque for just under £12,000 after their ‘Year of Missio’. What an incredible achievement – thank you all for your generosity and commitment to Mission!
Singing out in Swansea
On 16 October, we celebrated Mass in St Joseph’s Cathedral, Swansea with 17 schools and nearly 500 pupils. Many of the chaplaincy teams and faith councils from primary schools had met in the days beforehand to discuss Mission and how they can continue to support Mission Together.
The pupils set the cathedral ringing with the Welsh version of the EMM Prayer. And their rendition of ‘Calon Lan’ during the Offertory Procession demonstrated their wonderful singing voices. Diolch! Thank you children in Menevia diocese for making us so welcome!
A creative service in Clifton
Clifton Cathedral was the venue for the Diocesan Education Mass. All members of the schools’ community – pupils, staff and governors – joined Bishop Declan in the celebration. Schools from across the diocese reverently led the music, drama and reflections.
The students offered gifts for Mission Together – the result of months of fundraising. In his thank-you address, Fr Tony led pupils in the prayer for the Extraordinary Month of Mission. He praised the huge support schools had given through their participation in Missio’s postcard competition for the month.
Congratulations Clifton for your hard work and a wonderful celebration.
We presented all the children who took part in these special Mission Together Masses with an EMM prayer card, to help them to continue to be missionaries of God’s love after the month is over. Each of their schools received a Mission Together candle to remind them that they are the bearers of Christ’s light to the world.
We are so grateful to everyone who takes part and supports Mission Together. Your example of ‘Children Helping Children’ has shone brightly during EMM2019 and beyond. Thank you for every prayer and penny you send – it all goes to support and help children just like you around the world and let them know that they are part of God’s family and are loved.
Each year – with your help – Mission Together helps to run hundreds of children’s projects around the world. To encourage our supporters, we run an annual schools campaign focusing on one of these life changing projects and the children they help. In 2019 – 2020 our Together in South Africa campaign shines a light on eleven year old Johannes, a resident at St John’s, a care centre for children affected by HIV. To find out more about our Together in South Africa campaign and download classroom resources, click here.
With help from our supporters in England and Wales, a new boarding house in Mine Lunn Parish, Myanmar, is providing a brighter future for children in poor areas. Mine Lunn was officially established as a parish in 2004. The local people are Karen: the third biggest ethnic group in Myanmar, and over a third of Karens are Christian. The Karen people suffered discrimination and violence under the former military regime; hundreds of Karen villages were burnt by the army under the former military government, and thousands of people were displaced.
No time for school
Many of the Karen people in this area earn a living by gardening and farming. But they are often trapped in a cycle of poverty, with little or no prospect for development and education, and no access to basic services. To make ends meet, most children have to work in the farms and earn an income for the family instead of attending school.
Because parents simply can’t afford to pay school fees, Mine Lunn parish provides their children from the outlying villages with free food, clothing, healthcare and education. And to help them continue their education past primary school level, the parish built a small children’s boarding house. It was a vital place for the community, as it meant older children had somewhere safe to stay while they attended secondary school in town. But sadly, the building was in a poor state of repair and became too unsafe to use.
You helped create a safe, beautiful boarding house
Thanks to donations and a generous legacy from Missio (adult branch of Missio) supporters in England and Wales, the children’s boarding house in Mine Lunn has been replaced with a new, safe building. Now, the children from surrounding villages have a safe place to stay, learn, pray and grow. And thanks to funding from Missio in England and Wales, the local community is able to maintain the building.
Fr. Bernardino Ne Ne, PMS [Missio] national director of Myanmar, said:
“I wish to express my sincerest appreciation and heartfelt gratitude for your financial support for the maintenance of the Infant Jesus’ Boarding House. With the funds you sent, the boarding house accepts and nurtures 26 children from Mine Lunn and surrounding villages for this academic year 2019-2020.”
Huge thanks to all schools who supported our Day of Many Colours. We’re delighted that so many celebrated how, by working together, we share God’s love everywhere!
The Day of Many Colours is our annual faith and fundraising event, celebrating the Universal Church and how through Mission Together, children are helping children around the world.
The Day of Many Colours is celebrated on the last Friday before the Feast of St Peter and St Paul – the Church’s two great missionaries.
But don’t worry if you missed it – schools can hold their own Day of Many Colours at any point in the year.
This year’s assembly focused on St Peter and how as a missionary he helped the Church to grow into a global family, made up of billions of people, all trying to share God’s love as Jesus taught. You can download this and other resources here.
Written by Missio’s Education Coordinator, Sheila Isaac
Mission Together’s annual Good Shepherd Liturgy in Southwark Archdiocese took place on Wednesday 22nd May, when over 800 pupils from 29 schools gathered at Aylesford Priory, Kent, to celebrate being ‘children helping children’.
Each year schools supporting Mission Together – the Pope’s official children’s charity for overseas mission – gather to mark a year of prayer and sharing. Through scripture, song and dance, pupils share faith with one another, demonstrate their talents and remember that God’s love is for sharing.
Archbishop Peter Smith presided and explained that by supporting Mission Together the children are following Jesus’ commandment – ‘Love one another as I have loved you.’ Using Jesus’ words as their inspiration, the children had written prayers at school which they brought with them on their colourful Prayer Poles. These were carried in the processions and shared with one another.
Last year schools in Southwark raised over £7,800 for Mission Together. Thanks to them, children around the world who are living in poverty, learn that they are not forgotten. They know that there are children overseas who care about them and who pray to God for them. This gives them hope for a better future.
It was wonderful to see hundreds of Southwark’s pupils present, in spite of many schools’ funding difficulties. Headteacher, Mrs Linda O’Callaghan, of St Mary’s Primary Croydon, explained how they and a neighbouring school secured their attendance.
‘For one form entry schools times are hard, they need all the help they can get. So we invited another Catholic Primary along with us today. It’s important we share and work together.’
Many thanks to all the children who attended and performed; thank you to the staff and parents who prepared the children and who attended on the day. Thanks, too, to the Southwark Archdiocese Education Commission and the staff at Aylesford Priory, who all helped to make the day a great success.