A chaplain tries to integrate themselves into the everyday activities of school life, offering friendship and support, whatever the need may be, as a tangible living witness to Christ.
Meet our School Chaplain
Hello! I am Michael, the school chaplain at St. Thomas More RC Academy. Every pupil who walks through the doors of our school is a unique child of God, blessed with important gifts and talents. It is my job to help our students feel warmly welcomed into this environment and to help them to believe in themselves and encourage them to live their lives to the full. Every young person has something they can offer to our community, and a real pleasure of my role in school is getting to know individuals and seeing how they enrich their peer groups and the rest of the school community.
A little about me…
I am a former pupil of St. Thomas More, leaving Sixth Form in 2009. After leaving, I took a gap year with the Youth Ministry Team, our Diocesan Youth Service, working in partnership with CAFOD, the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development in England and Wales. Following my time with YMT, I started at the University of Edinburgh where I graduated with a degree in mathematics in the summer of 2014. Following this, I then volunteered in the Philippines for nine months where I was able to work alongside the Salesians of Don Bosco – teaching maths and spending time with Filipino young people.
I started at St. Thomas More in June 2015, and have loved getting to know our students and supporting them through their journey through school.
Chaplaincy at St Thomas More
At St. Thomas More, we have a Chaplaincy which offers a variety of opportunities that students can get involved with.
Every morning registration time starts with a time of prayer, led by staff and students. The prayers follow the rhythm of the school and liturgical years, and are themed around current events, memorial days, feast days and inspiring quotes. This is a great and consistent opportunity for students to reflect on what is happening in the world and helps issues of social justice, news stories and questions of faith stay on their consciousness throughout their school day.
Every Tuesday we welcome one of our five priests from our Partnership family to celebrate Mass with students. Each week, our chaplain will get a chance to work with the students who have chosen to attend Mass in order to discuss what happens during the celebration, and how we can best prepare to take part. We also have liturgies and Masses at key points throughout our school year, most importantly, but not limited to, wonderful celebrations at Christmas and Easter.
Throughout the year, there are other opportunities for students to explore their faith and join in with acts of collective worship. In Year 7, students get the opportunity to explore St. Oswin’s Chapel, a place we hope all students would feel comfortable to use if they ever needed some quiet time away from the hectic life of school. In Year 12, students are encouraged to take part in the John Paul II Award which allows our young people to get involved in their local communities and parishes.
Retreats / Self Reflection
We hope to encourage our young people to think critically about their own lives and the place they see themselves in the world and, motivated by the Gospel message, to become people of challenge, change and transformation.
We give every student at St. Thomas More the chance to experience an overnight retreat where they are able to think and reflect on their own lives. The retreat takes place at the Emmaus Youth Village, and is facilitated by the Youth Ministry Team. It is fully funded for every student in Year 8 and this year will take place on the week of February 26th, 2018. Students in other years are also given the opportunity to attend retreat or pilgrimage experiences throughout their time at St. Thomas More.
The Chaplaincy is available for every student in the school, and each is encouraged to become involved in as much as they can. Our school chaplain is available for students at any time of the school day should students need advice or someone to talk to.
Our chaplain links into the local community, working with parishes to support the work of Youth Ministry in our Tynemouth Priory Partnership. Once a half-term, a group of adults from every parish work with one another to discuss and plan how best the parishes can support our young people.
Year 6 students who visit St Thomas More in preparation for their transition into Year 7 will also spend time in our Chapel in a time of liturgy reflecting on how God can give them strength through their anxieties and fears about growing up and starting in secondary school.
The Chaplaincy also offers opportunities for our young people to get involved in issues of social justice. Last year we supported a number of different charities including Walking With, a local charity which works closely with refugees and asylum seekers helping them to settle into our local communities, providing food for families. Our students have also fundraised for St. Oswald’s Hospice, Sport Relief, CAFOD and our HCPT pilgrimage to Lourdes which provides a holiday experience for younger students who need it the most.