Spirituality at St Richard Gwyn
“I have come in order that you might have life—life in all its fullness.”(Jn10.10) The gospel is the starting point for all that we do in our Catholic School. We aim to make St Richard Gwyn more than just a place where pupils are equipped with skills for the workplace. All who work and learn here are part of a community with a common aim.
Academic and physical successes are the product of fully formed human persons who know they are created and loved by God who gives them a purpose and place in creation. That is the aim of our spirituality. It underpins all that we stand for and all that we achieve is celebrated in the name of God who gave us the talents to achieve it.
Chaplaincy is a distinctive feature of our school. The purpose is to support the spiritual development of students and staff and to offer pastoral support as part of the wider staff team. Together with Governors, SLT and the RE department, the chaplain helps to guide the Catholic Life and Mission of the school to help all to create a living Catholic Christian Community. In which the presence of faith in our values, words, deeds, prayer and liturgical life is natural to all and we all work together for the Common Good
Supporting the spiritual and liturgical life of the school
We celebrate the liturgical seasons with liturgies (services) in Advent and Lent; for Remembrance, on Ash Wednesday; and to wish our Year 11 ‘s goodbye. A highlight of our liturgical year is our annual May procession where all Year 7 take part in the procession and bestowing of flowers at the foot of Mary in our outside prayer garden after the crowning of her statue.
Mass is celebrated weekly, for Key Stage 3 and on our feast day and for Year 7 parents and pupils to welcome them into our community.
Local parishioners are invited to join our weekly Mass and students have opportunities to be involved in all of these liturgies – through reading, music, drama, art etc. We create prayer resources which are used every day in school for pastoral reflections in form time and in assemblies.
Staff begin daily briefing and every meeting with prayer and each area of learning leads a staff prayer in the chapel on a Friday in turn.
Although the retreat programme was halted by the pandemic it has gradually restarted with year 9 being offered the opportunity to reflect on their transition to Key Stage 4 in the summer term. Year 7 have spirituality sessions throughout the year led by the chaplain and Year 8 have reconciliation services in Advent and Lent; the chaplaincy teams have 23 in-school retreats per year.
Giving pastoral support to students and their families
Students come seeking support when they experience difficulties in their lives. Some are coping with a bereavement or loss, some might have argued with friends or are struggling with different issues. Support is offered to the wider family too. All find a place where they can talk through their problems and are encouraged to find a way forward.
Working in partnership with our partner schools, parishes and Diocese
We are fortunate to have very strong links with our Catholic feeder schools schools and the chaplaincy teams visit us and we return the visits. We also work on joint Advent and Lent services, the latter being a highlight of pre-Holy Week services in two of our parishes We are involved in Diocesan events when they happen and wider Catholic gatherings like Flame are a firm favourite with our pupils.
We are grateful to our parishes and the clergy for their involvement in the life of the school, particularly Canon Mike Evans who celebrates our weekly Mass and the local SVP groups who work with our own group to help the local needy. One of our parishes Our Lady and St Illtyd’s Llantwit Major and Cowbridge rely on our pupils to take part in their annual Mass for the sick. Our own SVP group welcome parishioners and friends into school for liturgies and social events and runs an outreach programme to the housebound via a pen pal scheme.
The chapel is at the heart of the school, sited immediately off reception and open from 8 until 5 every day, available to students and staff for prayer and reflection before the Blessed Sacrament. It is seen as a safe space for all whatever their faith and well used and respected
We are fortunate to have a lay Chaplain, Nicky Price who is supported by members of the GIFT team – staff who opt to join a group Growing in Faith Together, and the Wellbeing teams, plus the pupil chaplaincy team of 50 who meet weekly with her