Written by Elaine Arundell, Primary RE Adviser for the Education Service
On Corpus Christi 2018, the Westminster Diocese Education Service launched their initiative ‘Our Eucharistic Journey’, the diocesan response to the Adoremus Congress. This was to last until Corpus Christi 2019, the main aim of which was to rejuvenate a great love of the Eucharist in schools/parishes and create a long-lasting legacy. The fruits of the initiative have indeed been profound: there has been a vast increase in the frequency of Adoration and Benediction in schools as well as a deeper understanding of the Eucharist, for both staff and pupils. What has been the most appreciated treasure of this initiative, however, is the peace and calm that Christ has brought into every heart that has been open to this Sweet Sacrament.
Numerous head teachers have reported that Adoration, which has been introduced or developed as a result of this initiative, has allowed pupils as well as staff to simply ‘be’ and experience Christ’s healing and peace. Sarah Alley, a head teacher in Westminster commented: ‘There was a real sense of awe and wonder which swept over the school. It was a wonderful feeling! Christ brought calm to our busy lives…’
Pupils’ responses have been overwhelming about their growing relationship with Our Blessed Lord as well as their developing prayer life: Mapel from St Vincent de Paul, Westminster wrote, ‘When I went to Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament I felt as if Jesus was talking to me when the monstrance passed by, as I prayed.’ Hannah, a pupil from St Mary of the Angels stated, ‘I felt that Jesus and Mary were in the room with me and I could see Jesus in my mind. I like that it made me feel that I wasn't alone and that someone is always there for me.’ Tony from the same school affirmed that he ‘felt calm and back in God's arms again.’
Eucharistic worship has been strengthened, not only in schools, but also in deaneries. A walk took place in Spring for the year six pupils from every school in the Kensington and Chelsea deanery which culminated in a beautiful service in Westminster Cathedral. Anthony Jeffery, the RE Lead at St Philip’s Prep reflected on this:
‘For those of us there it was a tremendously moving occasion and one which made a deep impression on all the children and adults alike. To have time before Our Eucharistic Lord at the start of Lent in such beautiful surroundings brought to mind the words of St Peter to Jesus, seeing Him transfigured: ‘Lord, it is good that we are here’. (St Matthew 7. Vs14). We all certainly felt that.’
In the Lea Valley deanery, a primary retreat day was held for all Pupil Leaders in RE during which members reflected on the meaning of the Eucharist through music, song, activities and worship. The feedback, once again, was positive. A pupil from Lea Valley stated: ‘Mr O'Connell spoke to us about 'wow' moments and how we are all special. I felt very special when he said that if I was the only person on earth, Jesus would still have come to save me.’
Another group of Pupil Leaders at St Charles Primary in Kensington and Chelsea have composed a prayer to the Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the first one of its kind. It has clear links to Corpus Christi which marked the beginning and end of this special year, as well as our unique Cathedral which is dedicated to the Precious Blood.
Throughout the year, the Education Service has been working in partnership with diocesan schools/clergy, Evangelisation, Caritas Westminster and the Cathedral as well as various other agencies to create materials and resources for this initiative and beyond. These can be found online at: https://education.rcdow.org.uk/re-catholic-life/adoremus/
It is hoped that these resources will continue to inspire all members of our schools and parishes on their own personal Eucharistic journey so that restless yearnings cease and hearts will continue to find their home and true peace in Our Lord Jesus Christ.