On Tuesday of this week, after nine months of hard work, commitment and generosity, our Year 10 CAFOD team celebrated their achievements as part of the CAFOD Young Volunteer Course. Hosted in the conference section of Bristol Zoo our students gathered for the fourth and final time along with their counterparts from the other Catholic secondary schools in Clifton Diocese. When signing up to take part in the programme back in September, students were told they would receive experiences and training in campaigning, fundraising, public speaking, organisation and project management. They would be given opportunities to thrive, be creative, express their opinions on social justice and action, and be given the platform to make a difference.

At the end of the course, I can categorically say the group have achieved all of these and more. Some of their successes over the year have included leading the entire school in the World Gifts campaign, Lent fundraising, assembly presentations and worship, and leading environment PSHE sessions for our younger years. Their original ideas gave birth to St Gregory’s first ever escape room fundraiser which was so cleverly constructed to highlight the injustice the poorest face, that CAFOD came calling with a unique proposal. They wished to take our students’ idea and develop it into a national resource that all schools could utilise. Along came a video crew and they were filmed and interviewed – we await the result of that exciting opportunity.

This final session evaluated the course and gave all the students the chance to stand up and share their experiences – the successes, challenges and advice they would give to future participants. We welcomed a special guest, David Murray, from the human rights charity Article 25, who presented some of his work and advice, before handing out certificates. In his address he encouraged young people to follow their passions as “working in the charity sector is so rewarding because everyone around you is driven by values.” Two days after Vocations Sunday, there couldn’t have been a more appropriate message to a group who have been passionate and filled with values. At the heart of a vocation is the eagerness to follow a personal calling from God, a call that is enshrined in embracing the true heart of the individual.

As a thank you for their time and energy, our young people were then allowed to spend the remaining couple of hours of the day inside Bristol Zoo, free of charge. As you can see from some of these pictures they took, photography could be a vocation for them too!

Congratulations to Peter who took the picture of the two golden dart frogs, judged by Mr Duffy to be the best.

Mr M Robinson
Lay Chaplain