‘Ask and seek and your heart will be big enough to receive God’
St Teresa of Calcutta
Prayer and Worship
Prayer is an intrinsic and essential part of school life here at St Joseph’s. Children are encouraged and taught how to open their hearts and ‘talk to God’. Prayer is not separated from the rest of school life and all of our children throughout the school share in prayer on a daily basis.
We teach the children about the power of prayer and the heavenly graces they receive. Through the intercession of St Joseph, our patron saint, we commend ourselves to his protection and ask him to watch over us as he did with his son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Each classroom has a special and visible prayer space which either reflects the current topic or the liturgical season. Children are taught that prayer can be an everyday way of praising, thanking, asking and saying sorry.
Over time, children learn formal prayers. Every class uses a book of age appropriate prayers agreed by the Governing Body. These are kept in the classroom’s prayer space. Prayers are learnt by;
Children hearing and joining in with them
Through topics linked to particular prayers
The school day starts and ends with a prayer and grace is said at lunchtime. Assemblies are held three times a week. Throughout the year Mass and feast days are regularly celebrated in either of our two parish churches, St Anslem & St Cecelia’s or Corpus Christi. Each class has a prayer focus area for children to turn to when they pray and parents are invited to join special celebrations, feast day services, religious celebrations, parent prayer groups and class prayer services.
Early Years and Key Stage One take part in Christian Meditation each day after lunch time. This is a time for the children to clear their minds and listen to God.
It involves sitting for a few minutes in silence every day, allowing God to speak to us through the silence. Christian Meditation allows the children to calm their minds and be at peace with themselves.
The children sit quietly and listen to a short piece of relaxing music
They hear the ‘Maranatha’ chant
They hear three strikes of a gong
They sit silently for a few minutes
They hear another short piece of music
Meditation is closed calmly and peaceful
The children also often join in with the chant if they like to help them concentrate. The ancient Aramaic word ‘Marantha’ means ‘Come, Lord Jesus.’
‘Be still and know that I am God.’ Psalm 46:10
Key Stage Two take part in Daily Examen in their classes each day after lunch time. The children come into class quietly, sit on the carpet and listen attentively to peaceful and prayerful music. They join in and take part in quiet reflection, prayer and meditation.
The Examen follows the liturgical calendar and is based on the Gospel. Often there is a prayer focus and focal point to support the children through guided prayer and to offer their thoughts and reflections to Jesus.
Our children are encouraged to grow in faith, love, understanding and compassion. The TenTen programme we follow, means that we are able to expose our children to a wide-range of unique media-rich resources, inspired by our Catholic faith.
Whole school worship and celebration assemblies are held five times a week. Worship is led by the school RE Leader and more recently our St. Joseph’s Guardian Angels have led a worship under the guidance of the RE Leader. In the Spring/Summer terms, Nursery and Reception children will attend celebration assemblies and other special acts of whole school worship.
Mondays – Red Book (Celebrating our learning and thanking God for our gifts and talents)
Tuesdays – Collective Act of Worship (based on the Gospel of the Lord)
Wednesdays – Wednesday Word (inspired by the Sunday Gospel and child-led)
Thursdays – Singing Worship (praising God through song)
Fridays – Child-Led Worship (classes reflect on the Gospel stories or other key religious areas, prayers, song etc)
The Wednesday Word
Every Wednesday, a ‘Word’ (inspired by the Sunday Gospel) is given out to the children to discuss together in class and to take home for family to talk about at home. We believe The Wednesday Word shows that Gospel values really do help family relationships to thrive.
We encourage all families to regularly read The Wednesday Word together and enjoy sharing special time with their children each week.
Children in Key Stage Two take turns to lead worship based on The Wednesday Word. A rota is set up for each class to participate in child-led worship with our Parish Priests, Fr David and Fr Alan. The children independently plan and take part in the worship. Through this they growing in their love for Jesus.
There are three stages to The Wednesday Word:
A Special Five Minutes Together – discussion time
Wednesday’s Word is – Gospel’s meaning in one word
Loving God and Each Other – Going Forth and living out Jesus’ message
Then children can have fun completing the Gospel Gallery and Sunday Searches activities.
Every Thursday the children come together to worship God through song and prayer. They learn new hymns for masses and celebrations. Often the choir lead lead us in song and recite what they have been practicing with our Music Teacher, Ms Cotter.
We also have a school handbell team and children who play the handbells, drums and other beautiful musical instruments to assist worshipping and praising God.
‘When we sing, we pray twice’
Tweets by delegates after the Achievement For All (AFA) Conference where our school choir had the privilege to sing at!
“Amazing performance from St Joseph’s Primary School Choir, has got my feet tapping.”
“Ace singing from St Joseph’s Choir. The power of music to turn lives around.”
“Thank you St Joseph’s Choir, you raise us up to more than we can be.”
“Lovely St Joseph’s Choir!”
“Sorry speakers, but the biggest applause goes to the wonderful choir.”
Child Led Worship
‘Pupil engagement in both the planning and preparation of prayer and worship is an integral part of the school’s commitment to them. The quality of the preparation and implementation of prayer opportunities enables worship to be a real celebration.’
(Diocese of Westminster Education Service)
Each week every class leads their own child-led worship in class. Over a term, classes take turns to share their worship with their parents. Children reflect on the Gospel stories as well as lead prayers, songs and other chosen activities.
Children plan their own worship based on a chosen theme such a Sunday’s Gospel, their current RE topic, feast days and celebrations, social justice and modern day issues including homelessness, poverty, human trafficking and slavery, peace etc.
Child-led worship follows four main parts:
Gather – children gather together in a circle with a focus area including a candle and other resources
Listen – children choose a bible reading linked to their prayer theme
Respond – children choose one or two ways to respond to the Bible reading. This can be through prayer, a song, a mime etc.
Mission – children then choose a way of going forth, sharing the Good News and following God’s mission in their everyday lives. This can be telling others what they’ve heard, writing a prayer/poem, raising awareness etc.
There are a variety of resources kept in classes for children to avail of in order to help them plan their worship. Planning is kept in a class file and children evaluate their practice and think of ways to improve it independently. We also use CAFOD resources which are rich in ideas and themes and are designed for children to use.
Click on the blue link below to see an example of a CAFOD planning template which some of our classes use.
In the summer months, child-led worship takes place in nearby Lincolns Fields where the children gather together in the open surrounded by the beauty of nature.
The children regularly take part in Mass within the parish, every half term. These Masses include: a Welcome Academics Mass, Harvest Mass, St Joseph’s Feast Day Mass, Leavers Mass as well as celebrating Holy Days of obligation. The parish and parents/carers are warmly invited to different masses and acts of worship and these are advertised in the school’s newsletter and within the parish newsletter. Liturgies also feature throughout the year, such as Remembrance, Ash Wednesday, Mothers’s Day, Month of the Rosary, May the Month of Mary etc.
St Joseph’s Staff Prayer
As a school it is imperative that everyone is involved in the Catholic life and prayer. The RE Coordinator leads the staff in prayer during briefing meetings on a Monday and a Friday morning. Prayer is mainly inspired by the Gospel which follows the TenTen programme. Occasionally staff pray for others especially in time of sadness, grief and need. There are times when we pray because of joyful times and to give thanks to God for all he has done for us. Staff may also have special personal petitions and we ask all teaching staff to remember these in their own personal prayers.
Prayers are also said at the beginning of staff meetings on Tuesdays (PDMs) and during INSET days. Again this may be inspired by the Sunday Gospel or by a liturgical theme or staff event.
We believe that God is with us when we pray. He gives us courage and strength to face the day ahead and we thank him for placing the children of our school, St Joseph’s in our hands where we strive to keep them safe, encourage and care for them and teach them how to show love through actions and prayer.
St Joseph’s Parent Prayer Meetings
Parents are invited to join together in prayer each half-term. Sessions are led mainly by Mrs Jennifer Blanchfield (School Business & Admin Leader) but on occasion also by a parent or by the School’s team of Archangels. So far in 2018-19 parents have met several times to join in prayer. Below are a few samples of some of the prayer sessions which have taken place over the year. Feel free to click on each power-point to view the slides used.