The journey of faith is not an individual pursuit. The Church is a community of faith in which God calls all of us, young and old, to learn and grow together. As Catholics, our faith grows and is sustained through the shared experience of prayer, liturgy and exploring and living our faith together.
Prayer plays a vital part in the life of St Bartholomew’s. Each classroom promotes prayer and reflection by displaying a crucifix and statue of Our Lady, along with current liturgical pictures, artefacts and symbols. Stillness is encouraged at various points of the day. Even before the register is taken, each class pauses in prayer to offer the day to God; the children say grace before and after meals; they close the day by thanking God for all His blessings.
This daily classroom prayer is supplemented by collective worship at our weekly whole-school assemblies. Hymns and songs, appropriate to the liturgical season, are sung; there is a reading from the Bible along with a short reflection on how this can be applied in our lives; we pray together as a whole-school community; we explore and celebrate various saints days and feasts in the liturgical calendar.
St Bartholomew’s aims to gather together as a school family for the celebration of Mass at least once each calendar month. On major feast days, pupils and staff often make the fifteen minute walk to St Bartholomew’s Church to join the parish community for their regular morning Mass. On other occasions, Mass is celebrated in the school hall. Pupils are given key roles in all of these Masses including the reading of Scripture, bidding prayers and leading the music.
The school is very fortunate to have its own oratory. Although too small for whole-school gatherings, it provides sufficient space for an entire class to withdraw from the usual busyness and bustle of the classroom and take time to be still before God. The oratory is also used for the prayer meeting before school on a Wednesday morning. The parish ‘Pray for our school’ group meets in the oratory once a month to pray for the needs of the school. The members of the group then enjoy tea, cake and a blether with Primary 7 pupils, which is always a highlight of the day!
Father Doherty, our parish priest and school chaplain, visits the school during Advent and Lent to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation with pupils. The regular presence of Father Doherty and other local clergy, members of religious orders and, of course, Bishop Toal are important expressions of the fact that St Bartholomew’s is an integral part of the ministry of the local and universal Church and an institution not only governed by North Lanarkshire Council but also under the pastoral care of the Diocese of Motherwell.