Every Catholic school in England and Wales has been been invited to begin the forthcoming Year of Faith by having a week of prayer and service inspired by a young saint.
The joint initiative of the Bishops’ Department for Education and Formation, and also Evangelisation and Catechesis, is called ‘Little Way Week’ and is being run from 6 - 12 October. Many of the resources are not date specific which means it could also be offered any time during this academic year. Little Way Week coincides with the opening of the Year of Faith on 11 October which has as its focus ‘The New Evangelisation for the Transmission of the Christian Faith’. The Year marks the 50 anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, the twentieth anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and also coincides with a gathering of bishops from across the world in Rome. One of the key emphases of the Year of Faith is to know better the Catholic Faith. Everyone is invited to participate in this year of celebration and mission, mindful that faith is not meant to be private, but professed and shared.
In support of the celebration of the Year in Catholic schools, the Little Way Week initiative aims to encourage everyone in the school community to pray and to serve one another and their local communities doing at least one activity, every day for a week. The initiative is inspired by the example and spiritual teaching of of St Thérèse of Lisieux, a French Carmelite nun who died when she was just 24 years old. Thérèse wrote: “Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word; always doing the smallest right and doing it all for love.” At a very young age she came to understand that everyone can grow in holiness and witness to God’s love by doing little things for love of Him and others every day.
Bishop Malcolm McMahon, Chair of the Department of Education and Formation of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, said: “I am delighted to commend the ‘Little Way Week’ and I hope very much that all of our schools will use it as an opportunity to follow the example of St Thérèse of Lisieux in undertaking simple acts of loving witness. Following her ‘Little Way’ teaches us to do the ordinary things of life with extraordinary love. At the heart of this is our faith that Jesus is the power for love and goodness in our lives, and so the Little Way Week will provide the best possible start to our celebration of the Year of Faith in our schools and communities.”
Meanwhile Bishop Kieran Conry, Chair of the Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, said: “Little Way Week is a wonderful initiative that the whole school community can participate in to witness to God’s love through service. Let us imitate St Thérèse as someone who found deep and lasting joy and happiness in doing little things for Jesus and those around her.”
On the Bishops’ Conference website a number of free resources are available to schools. There are several video recordings of circle time with primary age children and video reflections provided by CAFOD for use with secondary age students. Whilst the primary school lesson plan focuses on teaching about nurturing virtues, the secondary school lessons have as their focus role models and what Christian love in action means. Also online are stickers, teachers’ leaflets, posters, scripture resources to be used daily in the classroom, assembly formats, as well as other materials. All the materials are available from: http://www.catholicnews.org.uk/little-way-week
In partnership with Premier Christian Radio a national art competition for schools is being run with prizes being awarded in two categories - primary school children aged 5 - 11 years old and secondary school students aged 11 - 18. The theme of the competition is “Helping Others: Expressing Faith in Little Ways” and entrants are invited to submit their entry through their school. More information and an online entry form is available from: http://www.premier.org.uk/hearttoheart
The Week is being coordinated by the Bishops’ Conference Home Mission Desk, in partnership with the Catholic Education Service. The hope is that every school will participate in some way as the launch pad for a year of activities to celebrate and share the Catholic Faith.
Home Mission Desk of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales