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Catholic Life News

Lenten promise

During the season of Lent two of our Year 7s, Owen Wagstaff and Oliver Taylor, decided to give up their time to raise money for a very good cause, namely ‘Father Hudson’s Care’. The boys set out by asking for donations of Easter Eggs from the BGN community, which would later be raffled off. Donations of all size Easter Eggs came in from far and wide, which the students showcased on the stage every break and lunchtime, whilst they sold raffle tickets to staff and students. The day arrived for the raffle draw, and what a spectacle it was. Mrs Wagstaff was on the microphone, whilst students enthusiastically waved their tickets around in anticipation for their number to be called. With students from Years 7 to 11 involved, as well as staff from across the school, it was quite the event. The raffle raised £167.95 in total, which was subsequently donated to this very worthwhile cause. The two students want to personally thank everyone who donated, bought tickets and supported their cause. They are looking forward to doing it all over again next year.

We are now coming to the end of the season of Lent and we feel well and truly prepared at BGN. Our Sixth Form have led our whole school assemblies throughout Lent, doing a fantastic job of bringing the message of the season to life. Nine of our Year 12 students had volunteered to work with St John's Catholic Primary School on their Retreat Day, which was held on Friday 24 March, with the focus being ‘Jesus, the light of the world’. The whole school has experienced our Services of Reconciliation, which was held across two days. They had a time to reflect in the hall, using candle displays and a presentation, along with the opportunity to speak to a priest. They could either just have a chat with one of our visiting priests, or receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We were blessed to have six priests with us at various points in the day and they commended our students on really making the most of the opportunity presented to them. Services of Reconciliation are organised for students during Advent and Lent.

We focused on the three themes of:- Prayer -  Prayer in our own lives and prayers for others around the world. We watched a video from ‘Aid to The Church in Need’ about the work they carry out for persecuted Christians. Fasting - We listened to the story of Fostina, a woman living in poverty without enough to eat. She eats one meal a day and sleeps on an empty stomach: “there is just not any food” she said. Giving -  Our final theme was on giving and we considered the lives of asylum seekers and refugees. We watched part of the BBC documentary on Sir Mo Farah and learnt about his life as an illegal immigrant. It gave everyone lots of food for thought. 

Young people nowadays…

I have worked at BGN for some 20 years now, I believe. The clock seems to have ticked quickly since my first term as I stood, so worried and so unsure in front of that first tutor group. I thought I had retired back in 2021, but seem to be still here, currently with the privilege of working with the RE Department.

Friday 27 January was a day unlike any other I have spent here. The department had planned a day of Adoration, where the Blessed Sacrament is exposed in the Chapel for the whole day. We needed help during break and lunchtime so that the Chapel was not left unattended and our Lourdes team willingly came to the rescue sharing the rota with the teaching and admin staff. The RE teachers took their classes into the Chapel for half of each lesson throughout the day and students listened to prayers and took part in a litany, giving the required responses. We were grateful to Father Ryan who was able to support part of the day with us and lead some of the sessions. Two of the classes were able to hear about his memories of his first day of Adoration when he was a child and his embarrassment about a noisy rumbling tummy, and his nervousness that he would get it wrong and would not know what to do.

It is a shame that such a day cannot be open to our parents, so that you too would have had the opportunity to see BGN at its very best, at its most respectful. The prayerful atmosphere in the Chapel was almost tangible and, at the end of one session with Year 9, Father Ryan said that he could 'feel' the prayers being said all around him. • Every student who came into the Chapel genuflected and knelt immediately in front of the Blessed Sacrament. • Every student understood the idea of 'time and place' and showed reverence and respect. • Every student took part in the responses in a prayerful manner. • Every student maintained the silence of the Chapel throughout. In short, you would have been so proud of your child if you could have witnessed their exemplary behaviour. It was such a privilege to share their day of prayer with them. A blessed day, indeed. [Mrs Herridge]

...and speaking of our Lourdes team!  I seem to have said so many 'thank-yous' over the course of the last couple of weeks, and they seem to have mainly been directed to the group of Year 12 students who are going on pilgrimage to Lourdes during the May half-term week. There are comments in the previous article on our Day of Adoration regarding the impeccable attitude of these students. They gave of their free time so generously and their behaviour and overall attitude served as such an example to those lower down the school.

Year 12 parents, I know that you know they are brilliant - you are not wrong! I thought a little background might be useful to all those who have never been to Lourdes, or indeed have never considered that their child might be part of our pilgrimage in years to come. This year is a special one to us all at BGN; it marks 30 years since Mrs Weaver, our then Head of RE, took the first pilgrimage to Lourdes, and from that moment set in stone just how highly regarded our BGN team would be.

Awareness of others is a key principle in Lourdes, awareness of when others need to pray, awareness of when you need to keep the silence, awareness of how respectful you need to be when doing a certain task, awareness of how to wear uniform impeccably, awareness of how to 'just be yourself' when talking to our senior citizens. These key principles are hard-wired for BGN students. They know exactly what is required of them, and when, and rise to the challenge automatically and without complaint. Service to others would probably be top of the list of reasons why a BGN student chooses to go on pilgrimage.

Service is the bedrock of our Gospel Values here at BGN, and students have known and understood since Year 7 that life and Christian teaching is about how we look after those around us, how we put others first and ourselves last. The journey to Lourdes is done by coach, 24 hours of coach journey to be precise, and expensive for each student. They arrive in Lourdes tired and hungry, but need to be ready for their shift within a few hours. 'Being ready' can mean many things: being ready to take our sick and disabled to mass, being ready to take them into town for a coffee, being ready to lay tables and help with their mealtimes, being ready - just for a chat with a lonely older person, who perhaps has not had the luxury of someone else's company since the last time they came here on pilgrimage. And finally, now over to you!

Since these students are going on pilgrimage and representing our school, it is only right that we try to help them with the cost of their travel and accommodation. They are certainly not going on holiday, let's face it! Apart from helping with fundraising events, do you know anybody who might be able to sponsor one of our students? Would someone at your place of work be able to donate just £50 towards their cost of travel? Many companies, especially the bigger ones, have a fund which allows them to contribute to community and school projects. If you would like us to write to them to ask, please do let us know. We would be so grateful for any help you could give. Thank you in advance!


Catholic Life

Our Catholic life continues to flourish at BGN and we are so impressed by the response our students and staff make to Catholic Social Teaching. Below is a short account of all the things which have been taking place since we returned to school after the Easter break.

Year 10 Soli House trip 19 April -  A valuable opportunity for our Year 10 students to engage with their faith in a fresh way.

Year 13 Leavers’ Mass 11 May - Our Year 13 students put a great deal of effort into the preparation of this Mass; writing their own bidding prayers and using some of the Youth Choir to perform. Awards on the evening were as follows:- • Shining light: Sam Danquah • Wonderful friend: Joe Nugent • Always smiling, always positive: Sam Wyeth • Damascus award: Malakai Corbett • Pride of Sixth Form: Molly Green

Catholic life staff meeting Monday 15 May -  Staff spent time looking at how Catholic Social Teaching is delivered in different curriculum areas.

Year 11 Leavers’ Mass 25 May -  A wonderful celebration for the year group for five years in school. The Sean Concanon Cup was awarded to William Tomlin.

Lourdes Pilgrimage 27 May - See additional article.

Ascension Mass celebrated at lunchtime in the Chapel due to external exams in the Sports Hall 18 May Led by 7 Edith - We hosted visitors from across The Pope Francis Catholic MAC too, who had been in BGN for a meeting that day.

Kenelm Youth Trust visit 14 June – speaking to our Faith in Action Group about the Synod called by Pope Francis See additional article.

Saint Peter and Saint Paul whole School Mass with Governor visit 29 June - The Governors spent time looking at the Catholic Life of the school. They spoke to students and members of staff to find out how they can engage with the Catholic life of the school. Year 10 students were able to go to a vigil Mass on the above date at St Mary’s Chapel, Lulworth [in the grounds of Lulworth Castle] during their Geography trip.

Year 6 Experience Mass 6 July Celebrated by Father John Peyton and Canon John Batthula; a truly vibrant and uplifting celebration of the Year 6 Three Day Experience.

Student survey ongoing on Catholic life - Students across the school are being asked to complete a short survey to comment on what they enjoy about the Catholic life of the school and anything they feel would further improve it. 

Choir trip to Belgium  - where the choir will be performing in The Cathedral of St Michael and St Gudula, Brussels

Friday 14 July: concert – performance of ‘Before the Angels’ CD The Cathedral of St Michael and St Gudula, Brussels.

Whole School Mass – last day of term - Farewell Fathers Father John and Father Ryan will be leaving us over the Summer holidays and we wish them well as they continue to live out their vocations in their new parishes. We are so grateful for everything they have done for us during their all too short time in Banbury: Father John leading a different tutor group in the rosary every Tuesday morning was hugely appreciated. We have benefitted from their thoughts in their sermons and in their support to the school as a whole. May God grant them every blessing in the future. Lourdes

Trip to Lourdes - My time in Lourdes was something I hope I will never forget. Being from a Catholic family it was a place I had heard a lot about from older relatives who had already been. So being able to go for myself was amazing; a chance that I am truly thankful for. Being a Catholic myself, obviously the spiritual side of the pilgrimage was huge for me. Whether it was services of reconciliation, youth mass in the underground basilica, or even taking time to pray and reflect on my own, there was an immense reverence in the domain. One that has only strengthened my own faith and has done so for countless people before me. But beyond the religious aspect of the trip, the volunteering is the other huge part. When working in the hospital in Lourdes you get to work with and meet some of the most amazing and kind people ever. Whether it be a nurse or a pilgrim, they are thankful for your help, regardless of your religion. It is rewarding to help people as other humans, where nothing matters other than everyone wanting the best for one another. And finally, the trip is great fun! There is plenty of time carved out for sightseeing and shopping in the town of Lourdes, and so too for day trips and activities throughout the week. You become better friends with people you are already close with and make friends with people you would have perhaps never spoken to. With all the above and more, I can only whole-heartedly recommend going to Lourdes. It is an experience that will teach you more than you know and stay with you for the rest of your life. [Darragh Conway—Form 12 Calcutta]

Year 7 Operation Christmas Child 'Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.' [Hebrews 13:16]

Christmas is the perfect time of the year to greet others from your heart. It is not only a great opportunity to show the love and warmth to your family and friends, but also to those less fortunate than us. As service is one of the five BGN Gospel values, we consider helping those in need to be a very important part of our school life. Thinking about others who have needs that are often greater than our own is so important in our efforts to develop empathy in our school. Furthermore, it gives our children an insight into the wider community and allows them to develop their social and Christian consciousness. Year 7 pupils donated several items to Operation Christmas Child Appeal, to be put into gift boxes, each containing items such as toys, clothes and food. These will go to children in Ukraine so they have a Christmas to remember this year too. Ms Dixon, one of our Year 7 tutors, said: "The appeal was more successful than we could ever have imagined and we were able to fill more boxes than anticipated”. We would like to thank all our Year 7 students and their families for their empathy, thoughtfulness and amazing generosity. We would like to wish you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year.