Back to work – Animate Youth Ministries team member Jonno reflects on the first half-term of the new academic year.
It is great to be back working with young people! After such a long absence due to the national lockdown, this half term we have spent time with pupils from four schools. First, we had St Mary’s Crosby here at Lowe House for a fantastic day getting back in the swing of things. Before we welcomed them into the house, we spent a hectic week getting the house Covid-secure for retreats. We created a lot of break-out spaces to allow for social distancing and undertook a deep clean of all the spaces we would be using. Father Simon went to Costco and brought back a minibus-load of sanitising equipment and we duly got to work!
After that first day, we then went to St John Fisher High School in Wigan for our next set of retreats. The Year 7s were exploring the theme of being a new community and we worked with each form group over seven days in all. As it was impossible to have the whole year group together for a Welcome Mass, as is normal, each day ended with Fr Simon saying Mass for a particular form group and trying to explain what happens and why during certain parts of the Mass.
Next we had a day with the Year 6 pupils from St Jude’s Primary School. They came here to Lowe House and we asked them to think about how they could ‘let their light shine’ during this new academic year.
With the Covid-19 restrictions, we have not been able to work with as many schools as we would ordinarily. We would usually have two groups a day at this time of year but we made a decision to have fewer groups to allow for more cleaning and more distancing in the house for groups that are on retreat. We have to be more careful with the activities we do too – and we are certainly using a lot of hand sanitiser and anti-bacterial wipes!
Within our community too, things have changed. There are things we cannot do but we try to make our own fun in the house. The other week we used the house to create a Crystal Maze game, complete with Medieval, Aztec and Future zones. And at the moment we are in the middle of a Marvel films marathon.
As I write this, we have just come to the end of six days working with the Year 7s from All Hallows in Penwortham. They came over to us and we explored the theme of ‘Let your light shine’. I feel it is an important theme to understand as they start their new chapter at All Hallows. Every single form we worked with were such a credit to their school – they have been one of the best year groups I have worked with.
I particularly liked seeing them get involved in an activity called ‘Stay in your lane’ whereby we have them working in smaller groups and remind them they should be focusing on themselves and not worrying what another group might be doing. This can be a lesson for all of us at this time: rather than focus on what is happening in other parts of the world, or even of our own country, we should focus on making sure we are doing the best we can for ourselves and our local communities.
Dates for the diary
The following events are planned for the Animate Youth YouTube channel over the next six months. For the evening events, young people are invited to take part in advance through recording readings and reflections, and likewise for the Youth Alive Masses with readings and intercessions.
1 November – Evening of Taize music and reflections, Lowe House
22 November – Feast of Christ the King/Youth Sunday
A liturgy to celebrate young people in the Diocese with testimonies, music, scripture and reflections.
6 December – Advent Youth Alive Mass, Lowe House chapel
1 January – Praise and Worship Music Evening, Lowe House
14 February – Lenten Retreat Day
With Lent beginning on the 17th we will lead a pre-Lent retreat day (approx. 60-90 mins) for young people. This will include activities that can be done at home, including testimonies, dramas, different inputs on the messages we can take Lent, as well as a time of prayer and reflection.
7 March – Lent Youth Alive Mass, Lowe House chapel