It was in May last year that Archbishop Malcolm McMahon formally welcomed the national Faith in Action scheme into our diocese. As you may remember, the FIA scheme is a new national initiative aimed at rewarding young people for the work they already do in our schools and parishes, and – through suitable reflection on these works in the light of their faith – encouraging them to do more as they mature.
The award has been likened to a Catholic Duke of Edinburgh scheme, and that is not an entirely inaccurate description. But the most significant difference with Faith in Action when compared with other similar schemes is the way in which young people are asked to reflect on any work they do in the light of Church teaching and scripture, and – having reflected on their work – to use those thoughts to move forward on their own faith journey.
A number of schools in our diocese accepted the challenge of putting their faith into action within this initiative and at the end of the year we had final pieces submitted from 11 primary schools, 11 high schools and six parishes. This represents over 400 children and young people from across the diocese taking part in the programme and putting their faith into action.
Those children and young people had to do varying amounts of work, to different degrees of involvement, depending on the award level targeted. At the end of the year they had to submit a 'final piece' showing how their work and reflections across the year allowed them to develop their faith. These final pieces were all individually moderated by a panel of people from across the archdiocese and returned to the young people to offer them affirmation in the work they had done.
This group of first-year participants are now invited to an awards ceremony in September at which they will receive a nationally recognised certificate and badge.
As the first step in a new initiative the numbers involved for 2016/17 were tremendous and I hope that as the new academic year begins we will have even more schools and parishes sign up to be involved.
If you would like more information on the FIA scheme please see the Animate website: www.animateyouth.org.
If you would like to enrol your school or parish in the scheme for next year please contact Fr Simon Gore on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01744 740467.
NB The diocesan FIA logo (second right) was designed as part of a competition and won by Callum from St Benedict's, Netherton.