We are very proud of our Catholic nature at The Barlow; Christ and our Gospel Values are at the heart of everything we do. We have a very active and lively spiritual ethos that permeates every part of Barlow life. Our GIFT Team is made up on more than 20 pupils from all years and they lead on the liturgical life of the school, collective worship, charity and they also contribute to pupil and staff wellbeing. We are lucky enough to be supported by our local parish priest Father John Hitchen from St. Catherine’s.
Chaplaincy provides a unique opportunity to promote the teachings of Jesus in a relevant way. It encourages the involvement and participation of staff and pupils in all aspects of the Catholic life of The Barlow. Our GIFT Team is responsible for promoting the Catholic ethos of the school community by organising and delivering an extensive programme of collective worship, special masses and liturgies. Those who are commissioned also offer spiritual and pastoral support across the school. These pupils wear a special ‘Chaplaincy Tie’, in silver grey with a cross, so that they are easily recognisable to both staff and pupils. All of our pupils have the opportunity to get involved in charity work when we do special missions in Advent and summer. We do other charity events throughout the year and these are all led by the GIFT Team.
Some examples of our Chaplaincy work are:
- During the months of May and October the Rosary is led by our GIFT Team at lunchtime
- We have Family Liturgies during Family Time in the Chapel.
- Gifts for teachers for Christmas, St Valentine’s Day and for all pupils on St Ambrose Barlow Day.
- MacMillan Coffee Morning Bake Sale.
- Special prayers during Advent and Lent (and other occasions throughout the year).
- Special Assemblies, led by the pupils, for all years: Charity, Mary,
- Regular Q&A drop ins with Father Hitchen.
- Special Prayers for lost loved ones during November.
- Upkeep and running of the Rainbow Garden.
- Visiting Assemblies to encourage pupils to get involved.
- Marian Procession.
- Looking after and caring for our school Chapel: Our Lady’s Chapel.
- Organising and planning for the Bishop’s Visit.
- The Carol Service.
- Leading liturgies for all pupils – Christmas, Ash Wednesday, Holy Week and Easter and End of Year.
- Leading on the Charity during whole school missions.
- Christmas Community Food Parcels.
- Christmas Community Party for the Elderly.
- Chaplaincy visits with the Primary Schools.
- Preparing for and leading in voluntary Masses on Holy Days of Obligation and other special occasions such as Leavers’ Mass and Welcome Mass.
- Displays around school.
- Holocaust Prayer Chain.
Although we have our Chapel in which to celebrate collective worship, as a school we build in other opportunities too. We regularly take groups across to Mass in our local parish church St Catherine’s. It is an opportunity for our pupils to see that they are part of a wider Catholic community and they enjoy taking time out of their busy school day to worship and reflect. Similarly, we have a prayer bell that rings twice a day to signal the start of prayer time. The sound of the bell unites all of our pupils as whatever lesson they are in stops and their act of worship for that morning or afternoon takes place.
Year 8 Retreat to Savio House
At the Barlow, we are always seeking ways to develop and nurture the whole child and it is a place filled with spiritual energy. We are inspired by Jesus saying, “I have come that you may have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10) and therefore build in opportunities for our young people to be a witness to their faith beyond confines of our four walls. This year, for the first time in many years, we have had a residential retreat for Year 8 in February. This is something we are hoping to roll out into other years.
The Marian Procession
Every year the GIFT Team represent The Barlow at the Marian Procession in October. We walk alongside our fellow Catholic schools as well as the clergy and the lay people of the Diocese of Salford. It is always a beautifully reflective occasion and in October 2018 we were asked to lead the procession and carry the cross.
Last year we ran a trip to Krakow in Poland, the highlight of which was going to Auschwitz. This was an opportunity to reflect on our responsibility to be a voice for the voiceless…
10/10 Theatre Company
Each year we book a visit from the 10/10 Theatre Company – they are a professional Catholic theatre company and hold sessions with students that consist of the performance of a play connected to Sex and Relationship Education, followed by discussion and reflection led by a professional facilitator. The theme is chosen so that it is appropriate to each year group that watch the performance (Years 8, 9 and 10). It is an experience that is both thought-provoking and informative.
Our Bereavement Garden
In December 2018 we officially opened our Rainbow Garden – this is a place of quiet reflection in school where we can think about those who we have loved and lost. During his visit in December, Bishop John Arnold blessed our garden and made it a holy place. We are very proud of it and have worked hard to get it. We consider ourselves blessed to have a volunteer gardener to help us use the space and to get the pupils involved (thank you so much Alison!) We owe special thanks to Dan, director of Paved Way Ltd as well who gave his time and resources for free to help us get from this…