I have come that they may have life
And have it to the full
St. Thomas Aquinas, a Dominican, was a great thinker and theologian. He is the patron state of colleges and universities. Like most Dominicans he encouraged debate and questioning. Everyone asks big questions at times, for example ‘What is the meaning of life?’, ‘What do I believe?’ or ‘Is God real?’. Chaplaincy can help students and staff alike to discover for themselves some of the answers to these questions. Aquinas College has a wonderful reputation for “living life to the full” (John 10v10) and chaplaincy exists to help you do just that.
The Chapel is always open for personal reflection, and there are some set times for community prayer. Chaplaincy also supports enrichment in the college including Christian Union, Global Justice & Peace and The India Project.
I hope to get to know you soon,
The Chapel is at the front of the building, next to the main entrance.
The Chaplaincy office is at the heart of the college, next to the canteen.
We are blessed to be served by a team of local priests including Fr. Peter Sharrocks, Fr. Michael Gannon and Fr Martin Onuoha.
All staff, students and parents are invited to join us at our Eucharistic celebrations which we hope to have together later on in the academic year. In the meantime, we are staying virtually connected with our local parishes and holding them in our prayers.
We are developing a new enrichment programme which will include virtual prayer, and we worship in assemblies each week, led by staff and students.
General RE classes also have a dedicated prayer time and regular visits to the Chapel to experience different ways of praying led by Carmel, our Lay Chaplain.
What’s Been Happening for Students
We’ve had a great year for Chaplaincy at Aquinas so far this year.
It’s been had great fun establishing a Chaplaincy presence throughout Aquinas and getting to know everyone. Read on to learn about some of the highlights…
- We’ve had some great Chaplaincy led assemblies starting the year with a ‘Welcome to Chaplaincy’, introduced the importance of scripture promoting ‘The God who Speaks: Year of the Word, and prayed for those living in darkness to experience light during Advent. The whole assembly rota follows the liturgical calendar, marking seasons and feasts, and includes thoughtful input about what it means to be Catholic, and to live a Catholic life following our college Mission statement.
- All ethics lessons visited the Chapel for an ‘Introduction to the Chapel’ welcome with Quiet Minds Prayer. This helped students be more familiar with sacred spaces and understand places of worship. They have been introduced to different ways of worshipping and know that the Chapel is a welcoming, peaceful space whenever they want to visit. The Quiet Minds prayer uses mindfulness meditation and also ran outside of lesson time for those who wanted to pray it more regularly as a whole college community.
- Lower Sixth completed the ‘Faith in Action Project’ in tutor groups and collected food and toiletry donations or money for local charities and food banks. As a Catholic college we need to understand the importance of faith in action, based on Catholic Social Teaching, and to work for justice and the common good within the wider community. It was empowering to see so many students take leadership of this! One tutor group even made up care bags and took them to people living on the streets of Manchester.
- A team of local parish priests generously agreed to help us worship regularly by celebrating Mass. Knowing we are part of a wider church community is important, and that church is a constant throughout our whole life, not just in college. Celebrating the sacrament of the Eucharist regularly is of upmost importance for Catholics and all staff, students and parents are invited to worship with us at these Masses.
- We’ve kept going with Chaplaincy enrichment groups including Christian Union and Global Justice and Peace and also started a Community Ambassadors group (SVP & Caritas Ambassadors)
- We extended an open invitation for students to evaluate our college Catholic ethos. All students were invited to evaluate the Catholic Life, Religious Education and Collective Worship of the college. A small focus group then met for a thorough evaluation and worked together to suggested action points for further development and improvement. We agreed to meet again towards the end of the academic year to continue to work together on monitoring this.
- Chaplaincy is also about supporting students with what’s important to them, so we’ve supported student led charity events for example a Children in Need badge sale and quiz night.
- We ended the first term with a Christmas Service at St George’s Church. This was a very special service led by staff and students, including prayers written by students, beautiful music and Christmas carols. It was wonderful to have us together worshipping Jesus in a beautiful Church!
- The best Chaplaincy initiative during this term was being led in worship Supported tutor groups in preparing and leading worship in assemblies. Each tutor group spend time discussing what things people pray about, and how to pray. The worship has taken many forms, always within a Catholic setting and has been very thought filled and thought provoking.
- Chaplaincy led assemblies during the second term focused on sharing love (Valentines Day) and internal reflection during Lent focusing on forgiveness and reconciliation.
- Ethics lessons visited the Chapel to try praying with candles and praying for each other, supporting each other in our needs.
- We had great fun celebrating St Thomas Aquinas’ Feast day with the Shrewsbury Youth Mission Team. It was wonderful to really focus on our Catholic identity and creatively come up with ways to share happiness and care for each other in our community. Giving out free Oreo biscuits to everyone definitely brought a few smiles!
- Upper Sixth completed the ‘Faith in Action’ project through tutorial sessions and groups raised money, food and toiletry donations or money for local charities and food banks.
- We continued to be supported by local priests with regular Masses celebrated in the Chapel which all staff, students and parents were invited to. We had a precious Ash Wednesday service led by Fr David Long which was a great start to Lent.
- Mini Dash: A group of students shared how we work for social justice with high schools in Shrewsbury Diocese and we brought back a few ideas for us to try out. We have already tried out sending texts of kindness in assemblies, inspired!
- Chaplaincy enrichment: Our Community Ambassadors have regularly volunteered to help with reading at St Ambrose Primary School, our Global Justice and Peace group welcomed a visitor from CAFOD to lead them in a game about climate change and Christian Union led interesting debates including justice, punishment and consent.
- For World Book Day we held a Readathon including Bible Stories as we are in the Year of The Word. This way a great way to share God’s word.
- Currently as staff and students are working from home we are staying focused on being connected as a community, praying together and supporting each other in the ways we can.
- Whilst learning remotely, chaplaincy enrichment continued online and we launched remote assemblies and services. We stayed connected through prayer and chats.
- During this term students were in the building on alternative weeks so Chaplaincy was a way of continuing community building whilst switching between home and college.
- We launched remote assemblies from the start of the year and these will continue for the foreseeable. They have been led by a number of staff (and occasionally students!) and covered themes from ‘resilience’ and ‘sustainable diets’ to ‘interfaith’ and ‘how to “be more”’.
- General RE classes were invited to visit our beautiful Chapel for an introduction to the space and to experience prayer and Christian mindfulness meditation.
- Three of our students took part in the Shrewsbury Mini-DASH day, getting creative with moulding clay pots and sharing ideas of how to show love in our communities at this time.
- Enrichment: we have continued with the SVP/Community Ambassadors group, ran Alpha Youth with our Christian Union, introduced a weekly Quiet Minds Christian Meditation and a body relaxation meditation. During Advent the SVP group organised a food and toiletries collection for Re:dish food bank and held a raffle raising money for Crisis.
- We ended the term with our Christmas Service which was a great way to come together to celebrate our Catholic faith. Students led music and readings, and Fr Martin led the sermon. All L6 and U6 students were invited to share prayers centred on the themes of Advent: hope, peace, joy and love and it was a joyful celebration!
- We started this term by all learning remotely but thankfully we were able to return just before the Easter break. To help keep us thinking and talking about what we were experiencing there were weekly chaplaincy emails reflecting on different things happening in the world, with ‘feel good’ quotes shared by the students.
- The SVP group led a celebration for St Aquinas’ Feast Day including a social chat and quiz online . The group also focused on raising awareness of mental health this term.
- We ended the term with our Easter Service focusing on ‘freedom’. Students led readings and Fr Peter shared a sermon. All students were invited to share their own message or/prayers for freedom and these were very inspirational!
- We have all been back in together! Whoop whoop! Some enrichment has continued online, and some has been blended so everyone can attend in a way they are comfortable with.
- Our U6 Leavers Service started with a Chaplaincy reflection, and our L6 end of year assembly will do too. Assembly themes this term have included ‘Mental Health’, ‘Pentecost’ and ‘Refugee Week’.