Girls from all faiths and secular backgrounds join our welcoming, diverse school community. We want everyone in school to feel accepted and to feel that they belong and are valued, whatever their background or belief and chaplaincy is part of trying to make that hope a reality.
At St Mary’s we see chaplaincy as a ministry of ‘walking alongside'. In a sense, everyone in school is involved in chaplaincy; we all walk alongside each other in different ways during our shared journey. We accompany each other in trying to live a good life and in trying to explore and make sense of the world in which we live.
Canon John Minh and Canon Simon Blakesley are our Chaplains for Junior School and Senior School.
In addition, Mel Ward our Lay Chaplain supports students and staff by providing a confidential listening ear and a safe space in which to explore faith and experience. While St Mary’s is a Christian school, our Lay Chaplain supports everyone, whatever their faith or belief and interfaith and secular dialogue is welcomed. Students feel free to share good or bad news, experiences, hurdles and difficulties with her as well as seek support, both practical and prayerful.
Our Lay Chaplain also promotes prayer and reflection in school, taking assemblies and liturgies, as well as preparing students to receive sacraments, when it cannot be done in local parishes.
Our Director of Christian Life, alongside our Lay Chaplain meet regularly with our Mary Ward Scholars. These Scholars are students who support Mary Ward values and characteristics in school. This includes looking out for students who may be feeling a little overlooked or distressed, supporting our prayer life in liturgy, informal prayer and assemblies, as well as championing initiatives that promote justice, such as our fairtrade stall and charity fundraising.
Chaplaincy at The Sixth
Our leadership team actively engage in chaplaincy through their roles in facilitating student voice and mentoring. This is done with the support of staff responsible for those activities. Chaplaincy work for Sixth Formers is also seen in less formal ways, such as visiting new students’ classrooms at the beginning of each year to get to know them, for example.
Our approach to chaplaincy is best summarised by the following teachings of Mary Ward to her community:
‘When God is sought sincerely, the way to him is always open’
‘Be unwilling to see any need when we can help with counsel or labour.’
We have Mass every Wednesday morning at 8.05.am in our School Chapel. This is an optional celebration attended by some staff, students, parents and the Congregation of Jesus Sisters based in Cambridge. Our Chaplains preside at most of our school masses and other liturgies, although we also welcome other local clergy and clergy who have a long association with our school.
Our School Chapel, situated in the Elms Building, overlooks our tranquil garden. It is kept as a quiet space for prayer and reflection and is always open for students and staff to use in that way.
Year Group assemblies are held in the Chapel as well as optional masses, pre-exam Mass for Year 11, Sixth Form Leavers’ Mass and other liturgies; for example, daily prayer in Advent and services of remembrance in November. It is available for use by groups, such as a lower school prayer group or weekly staff prayer. It is simply furnished and decorated, and students of all faiths feel comfortable in that environment.