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I have been serving in formal church ministry for the Catholic Church for the best part of 14 years in which time I have served in various capacities and sectors. I began my journey with on-the-road missionary work, being part of a team that travelled the UK providing retreats and programmes for schools and parishes. This was followed by me joining a parish in North London as a Catechist support worker. I eventually then found myself in full time ministry with the Diocese of Westminster where I held various posts from retreat leader to diocesan youth support work. I also have a very active parish life. I serve as parish safeguarding representative for my local parish and also as lead coordinator for music at the family mass.
Several years ago I graduated with a Bachelor in Divinity with Maryvale institute which nourished the academic foundations of my work. Soon after this I found my way into Chaplaincy in a Sixth Form College, soon to be followed by the role I now hold as chaplain of Ursuline High School.
Chaplaincy has always been on my radar in those 14 years of church ministry and the opportunities naturally opened up in time. My favourite part of being a chaplain in comparison to the wide variety of youth ministry experience I have is that you get to accompany young people through some of the most valuable and precious transition times of their life. Chaplaincy is something that is an inevitable part of the experience a student in a catholic institute, but it is more than that, it is an invitation to nourish, harness, empower and strengthen our young people to grow in the spiritual, moral, ethical dynamics of their character. This is done across all departments in various ways in a Catholic institute, but chaplaincy has the unique privilege of providing a framework of reference to the person on Christ, so that every young person, in this case, every young girl, can have the chance to invite God into the perspective of their lives. Some of the best moments for me with our Ursuline girls to date is seeing them embrace the opportunity provided to them in Form Retreat days. In the moments of silent prayer and reflection I have almost visibly seen the exact moment a ‘penny drops’ in their minds as the Spirit of God moves in them. These ‘little moments’ are just as powerful and important as all the fantastic larger collective worship events we host and is the humbling privilege of being a chaplain.
There are also opportunities for students to attend national events and conferences, and to participate in faith forming activities together with students from other Ursuline schools. Each year group takes part in a retreat day, in which different themes are developed in relation to personal development and faith. Speakers are invited to share their experiences.
Students across the school are actively involved in supporting charities. Both by raising money and by being active in the local community. Year 7 run a community Christmas tea party. Year 8 students participate in a Youth Philanthropy Project and the winning group secures £1,500 for a local charity. Year 9 participate in CAFOD group to promote Social Justice. Whilst Year 10 have the opportunity to join Youth SVP who provide support to local care homes.
Historically, students raised money for charities. Local charities included; Sustainable Merton, The Passage and Catholic Children’s Society Christmas gift appeal. Internationally, we have supported; The Ursuline school in Cambodia, Cafod and The Bushfire Foundation. Students are encouraged to appreciate diversity and to build on the Gospel values of love, care, justice, peace, solidarity and respect.
|Wear Red for Racism||£992.91|
|The Byseee Project (JustGiving)||£1,844.22|
|Christmas Fair Y7||£1013.60|
|Christmas Fair Y8||£893.14|
|Christmas Fair Y9||£742.94|
|Total (So Far):||8,369.79|
|MacMillan Cancer Support||£196.35|
|MacMillan Cancer Support||198.65|
|Jesuit Refugee Service||£181.31|
|Wear Red for Racism||£191.57|
|The Natash Allergy Research Fundation||£328.04|
|Breast Cancer Now||£328.04|
|Billable Hour/ Save the Children||£354.13|
|Hope One World||£232.48|
|Alzheimer's Society/Merton Dementia Action Alliance||£419.66|
|Shooting Star Hospice||£86.85|
|Hestia Housing & Support||£93.21|
|Born to Soon||£85.70|
|The Baytree Centre||£113.71|
|AFC Wimbledon Foundation||£365.77|
|Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal||£2425.59|
|MacMillan Cancer Support||£306.61|
|The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity||£114|
|Sutton Women’s Centre||£72|
|Cystic Fibrosis Holiday Fund||£285|
|Show Racism the Red Card||390.58|
|The Wimbledon Guild||£332.01|
|St Raphael's Hospice||£332.01|
|Downs Syndrome Association||£332.01|
|Sickle Cell and Young Stroke Survivors||£70|
|Save the Children||£50|
|Mizen Foundation (Jumpers for Jimmy)||£222.51|
|AFC Wimbledon (Dons Local Action Group)||£757.76|
|Jesuit Refugee Service||£203|
|Medical Aid For Palestinians||£93.21|
|NHS Charities Together||£119.7|
|Daughters of Divine Charity||£100|
One of the key ways we nurture Ursuline students' Character Development is through our extensive Enrichment Programme.
We release a Catholic Life newsletter at the end of each term, to keep updated with the spiritual life of the school!
Many thanks to all our Parents for their support through Covid and to Students and staff who fed into our Deanery research on on What our young people need from their Catholic faith communities post covid. View the summary findings.
Mr Dominic Cunliffe
0203 908 3149