As Director of Spirituality at The Palmer Catholic Academy, my job is to support the students and staff in what we regard as a home for our academy family.
I seek to ensure every opportunity is made available for students to have a prayerful life and ensure all students feel safe about their faith and spirituality regardless of faith or indeed if they have none. We aim for our students to feel supported in their holistic education developing both their academic and personal journeys.
Our ethos is 'For the Glory of God, and service of all'. This means we place God at the heart of all that we do, both inside and outside the classroom. Our ethos is drawn from the Gospels' values, helping us to place faith, love, truth, integrity, compassion and forgiveness in our lives and in our encounters with others, regardless of race, gender or religion.
We are a Catholic academy and are extremely proud of our history and heritage. Our buildings are named after people with significant connections to our academy community. Some are saints and others are important in the Catholic Church. Our House Saints are Alban, Bede, Clitherow, Fisher, Line and More with the addition of Kolbe and Teresa in the Sixth Form. We also ensure that we have artefacts and expressions of catholic identity around the academy.
There are a number of ways in which you will be able to tell that we are a Catholic academy. Each lesson begins with the Academy Prayer. This prayer centres our direction and focus that we must be committed to doing our best, being our best and showing our best using our gifts and talents not only for our benefit, but for the benefit of others.
I am located in the academy every lunch time, where the Chapel is open for all students to participate in different acts of liturgy such as arts and crafts, formal and spontaneous prayer and occasionally just having the chapel open but in silence for students and staff alike to come and enter the chapel for a few moments or longer in the presence of Christ, through the presence of Jesus in the Tabernacle.
I am responsible also for the Retreat programme in the academy where students reflect in a calmer environment and where we forget the academic demands of our students for a day; where the students are allowed in a different method to reflect and concentrate upon the spiritual part of their identity as a child of God.
Also during Advent and Lent there will be time for the students to reflect and have the opportunity to celebrate the sacrament of reconciliation as the academy is supported by many Deanery priests and are always recognised and welcomed to share in the celebration of the sacraments within the Academy.
As a Lay Chaplain I aim to:
- Support the young people of the academy to take a lead in developing their own knowledge of their faith and how this may present in their actions and making relationships with others
- Support young people as they attempt to answer life's problems and help them to shape the questions
- Be what is needed in the modern world – a guide, a presence, a bridge-builder
- Network with parishes from which our students come from
- Develop new expressions and ways of creating liturgies and prayer time
- Give encouragement where and when it is needed
I hope our young students with my help (and yours) grow in their faith, believe more and demonstrate the academy's ethos of everything we do is 'For the Glory of God, and service of all' in the everyday tasks, pursuits and challenges that our young people face.
I believe, when you have God in your life, and God is at the centre of your life, all things are possible.
Mr P McCarthy
Director of Spirituality