St Joseph's Catholic Primary School

Prayer and Liturgy

Our School Prayer

Members of the Pupil Voice group composed our school prayer which is now said regularly during the week 'at St Joseph's.

Dear St Joseph,

Help us to love and care,

To be gentle and fair.

Help us to work and play together,

Help us to live and grow together,

To be always glad to help each other,

Happy in your loving care.

Amen

Prayer and worship are central to the daily life of St Joseph's and form part of every meeting, assembly or gathering.

Each day, classes pray a number of times together (i.e. start of the day, before and after lunch, before the end of day). These prayer time are often assisted by pupil 'Prayer Leaders'.

Fr Shaun Middleton is Parish Priest at St Mary's Church and our Chair of Governors. He plays a very important role in the sacramental and prayer life of St Joseph's.

Prayer time at St Joseph’s provides opportunities for spiritual growth and development through participation in a variety of forms of worship and all forms of prayer – formal, informal, spontaneous, private, shared, petitionary and meditative.

We aim to help the children value and respect the power of prayer and to use it to help strengthen the children’s relationship with God.

We want to be a praying community. It is important for children to know the ‘formal’ prayers of the church which we may all pray together and which we all hear and say with the parish / family communities outside school.

We also value ‘formal’ prayers which have been written especially for children and which hold meaning for them. With these two aspects in mind, we aim to teach particular prayers to the children.

Children are encouraged to develop their individual prayer life through daily participation in collective worship, grace before meals and afternoon prayer.

Prayer does not only mean ‘formal’ prayers. We do hope to help each other to listen to God speaking to us and to respond in our hearts and minds during moments or stillness, reflection and silence.

We also encourage prayer writing by the children themselves.

Each class has a prayer area which provides a focus for prayer in the classroom. 

Members of the Pupil Chaplaincy Team regularly monitor these areas and give feedback so that these areas enhance the mood and setting for periods of prayer and worship'.

Each child has an individual prayer book which moves up with them. This introduces age-appropriate prayers which can be used during class prayers times and worship. This helps to ensure progression in the prayer life of the children too.

At St Joseph’s, the children are taught to know by heart the following prayers:

The Sign of The Cross
The Lord’s Prayer
The Hail Mary
Grace Before Meals
Afternoon Prayer
Birthday Prayer

During Key Stage 2, children become familiar with and are encouraged to learn:

The Act of Contrition
Praying of the Rosary
Responses to the Mass
The Guardian Angel Prayer
The Confiteor
The Apostles’ Creed

In addition to their own individual prayer book, children starting at St Joseph's are given this sheet to take home and share with their parents. This contains the daily / regular prayers children will say during their time here at St Joseph's. 

Child-led Worship

Children at St Joseph's regularly plan and lead collective acts of worship. These child-led sessions follow the following format:

+ Gather

+ Word

+ Response

+Mission  

Each class has a box of resources so that an appropriate prayer focus can be set up and attention is paid to mood and setting through the use of music and lighting.

Children in class evaluate the sessions and members of the Pupil Chaplaincy Team also observe some sessions, discussing the content and giving feedback to the children who have led the session (so that strengths are identified and any areas for development can be shared). 

In this way, we aim for our child-led worship sessions to be positive, enriching, calm and reflective times for the children and staff at St Joseph's.  

Please see the video below to see what our children have to say about these prayer sessions.

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 Collective Acts of Worship / Liturgy

Children have regular opportunities to assemble together, either as separate key stages or as a whole school. Some of our assemblies have a Gospel theme, some are class assemblies incorporating prayer and some are Good News Assemblies incorporating prayer.  

Children participate in key stage Hymn Practice and the school has a large Junior Choir and Senior Choir, who ensure our school Masses are filled with lovely music appropriate to the theme and time of the liturgical year. Children are regularly involved in helping to select music to be sung at our school/class Masses.

According to the Church's liturgical year and encompassing Holydays of Obligation and certain feast days (e.g. St Joseph), children have regular opportunities to participate in the celebration of Mass. Children take a full and active part in these celebrations; welcoming, processing, reading, serving, assisting at the offertory, singing etc.  

These are either stand-alone school Masses at St Mary's Church (our Parish Church) or here in school. On occasion (e.g. in Lent / Advent) classes may join the parish midday Mass with other parishioners.

Key Stage 2 classes also have opportunities to attend Mass and celebrations at Westminster Cathedral (e.g. The St John Southworth Catholic Academy Trust Foundation Mass, Catholic Children's Society services). 

Our St Joseph's families are always welcome to our main school liturgies and Masses and they support the school / parish by attending in very good numbers.

Our St Joseph's families also have the monthly opportunity to come together in prayer in the school hall. These are well attended and always a very special time of prayer for the school community.

Children are heavily involved in planning, preparing and leading times of prayer here at St Joseph's (for example regular child-led worship sessions, class and key stage assemblies, Rosary assemblies).

Children in Years 1-6 also have a weekly period of guided meditation - where the whole school becomes 'quiet' for a short period. These started during our recovery from the pandemic lockdowns and have continued as both staff and children enjoy benefit from these periods of stillness.

Many of our prayer sessions during the year are led solely by the children for their peers (e.g. child-led worship sessions, Lent / Advent prayer sessions led by the Pupil Chaplaincy Team). 

Prayer Bags

EYFS send home a beautiful prayer bag weekly for a child to take and share with their family.

In October (Month of The Holy Rosary) and May (Month of Mary) Years 1 - 6 send home the prayer bag with a child per night, to set up a prayer focus and have quiet prayer time with their family.

Service of Remembrance

Each year we have a beautiful Service of Remembrance in the Heart of the School. All classes attend and listen to special readings and prayers. Members of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea are invited and stay with us for lunch afterwards.

The most poignant moment comes during the two minutes silence, when members of Year 6 release poppy petals from the balcony to flutter onto the children and staff below. It is a very special and moving service for the whole school community.

We also display our special Book of Remembrance in the Heart of The School. Children, staff and parents add the names of loved ones and we pray for all the Holy Souls during the month of November.