St Damian's Day 2024
Our traditional celebration of ‘St Damian’s Day’ took place on Friday 2nd February. Our theme this year was FEAST day, a chance to celebrate and enjoy everything that is ‘great’ about the St Damian’s community. As usual, this was a day when students and staff had opportunities to reflect, engage in a range of formation activities, learn about other faiths and listen to external guests on pertinent issues, such as mental health.
In January staff were tasked to prepare a lesson that would allow our students to “FEAST” on their subject. We posed the question, “In your subject, what would be the one topic you would love to teach that would make the biggest impact on our students lives now and in the future?”. As always, the great staff here delivered! These ‘WOW’ lessons included topics about space, Sikhism, earthquakes and more!
We celebrated Mass with Year 9 students. This was central to the day and allowed students to connect with God and deepen their faith. Our feast day celebrations coincided with a special feast day of the Church, The Presentation of Our Lord. This feast commemorates how Jesus, as a baby, was presented to God in the Temple in Jerusalem. Students reflected on how we can recognise Jesus in our own lives. Furthermore, the Mass was also a chance to connect with our global family as in 1997, Pope St. John Paul II, dedicated this feast as a World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life. During Mass we prayed for Father Jude and Sister Roseline who have chosen to dedicate their lives to God.
We introduced Kyle Clayton from the charity ‘Time Isn’t up’ to St Damian’s. Launching his ‘tour’ around the country, this talk allowed a safe space for students to listen to Kyle’s story and his own journey with Mental health. They listened and learnt about how sometimes in life hard things will happen that you will have no control over, but the message was stay hopeful and be resilient; talk and get help when you need to. In a world where there are many issues, St Damian’s continues to be a place of hope, where staff provide fantastic pastoral support to all our students.
Our Year 8 students said that they loved the Bhangra dance workshop. This was led by Rajeev Gupta, who has performed at the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games 2012 and taught professionals on Strictly Come Dancing. Students learnt the history of Bhangra music and dance that is traced back to the region of Punjab in North India. Then students and staff learnt a routine and had a fantastic time!
Miss Jameel, one of our English teachers, led our students though her personal faith and educated students on the Islamic religion. Students learnt about religious beliefs and key festivals but more importantly they heard first hand from a member of the faith about what it means to live out their faith in modern Britain today. Miss Jameel answered many questions from the students. Also students and teachers were able to taste some cultural food and food that was mentioned in the Qur’an.
Year 7 students visited the Hindu Temple on Lees Road as part of our outreach and solidarity with our neighbours. They learnt about the temple, how it was built, history of the Hinduism religion and prayer traditions. Mayur Patel , Co-ordinator and Volunteer at the temple, said “All the children were exceptionally well behaved, a real credit to the school.” The welcome we received was truly genuine and appreciated.
This year we were invited back to Emmaus Mossley. Two groups of Year 10 students had the opportunity to learn about the charity that aims to help homeless people change their lives for the better. Visiting Emmaus was a fantastic opportunity for students to see how Catholic Social Teachings work within the world and not just our school community. Students were taught the history of the charity and had a tour of the huge mill and all the operations that go on there. Students were treated to a snack and drink in the café and then were able to explore the shop and support the charity themselves! It was a fantastic opportunity to ensure that excellent links are forged with other agencies that support Catholic Social Teaching in action!
We invited the Big Issue North to come to school and share their work and experiences with our children and to raise awareness of homelessness in communities across England, but particularly in Greater Manchester. Rebekah Cheshire presented to 2 year groups before working alongside the Year 8 GIFT team in a workshop session. Rebekah was thrilled to work with our students and emailed to say “I wanted to send a message of appreciation to you today to say a very big thank you to you and your team at St Damian’s for making me feel so welcome last Friday when I came to visit for our Big Issue North presentations and workshop sessions. The students were absolutely perfect, especially year 9 with a lot of hands raised at the end of the talk for questions – which I loved, as it shows they had absorbed some information and was curious as to the charitable community work we do here to help people in need.” The work that Year 8 produced is being featured in a community piece for The Big Issue North which will be available on the social media platforms and The Big Issue North website. We are hoping to make the editors cut for the magazine feature in the printed weekly issue. Watch this space!