This is the commissioning that nearly didn’t happen!

Unfortunately, on the date that Bishop Declan could commission pupils it turned out the Cathedral wasn’t available. It is not easy to find a venue large enough to accommodate our pupils, have sufficient parking space and toilets and have room for pupils to eat their lunch afterwards. Fortunately, Downside Abbey came to our rescue.

The architecture of the Abbey is very different to that of the Cathedral and being present in such a space was a new experience for many of our pupils.

Because the Abbey cannot seat as many as the Cathedral we decided to hold two services with those furthest away from the Abbey arriving for the second service.

Approximately 700 young people in total arrived to receive their badges and certificates from Bishop Declan marking their commitment to their schools’ chaplaincy team. You might think the challenge of the day was how to interest children and young people in chaplaincy work or how to persuade schools to time out from their busy schedules to come to the Abbey, (for some schools this was a journey of well over 2 hours) but neither of these issues presented a problem. The response from the young people was overwhelming. I anticipated that the first challenge would be parking but the Abbey staff worked miracles arranging coaches so that no one was blocked in, giving directions and apparently defying the laws of physics to fit all the cars, mini buses and coaches into a space that at the start didn’t look as though it could possibly be large enough!

During the services Bishop Declan answered questions about how they as young people could contribute to our pastoral guidelines, ‘A Future Full of Hope’ and schools talked about how they had had worked hard to make a difference peoples’ lives during the last year. The projects undertaken were based on the corporal works of Mercy and included projects about feeding the hungry, fund raising for different groups, taking part in projects to provide clean water to various parts of the world and a range of other projects.

We would like to thank all those involved in the day for their commitment to making not only this day but also helping develop our pupils as young leaders as part of their chaplaincy teams.

The Downside team did everything possible to make the day a success and we are really grateful for their support

Final thanks go to Bishop Declan and those clergy who support their schools for being prepared to spend so much time listening and engaging with young people and to the schools’ department administration team who worked so hard to get the logistic of the day running smoothly