by Eve Keys (who brilliantly taught and led the Year 7 signing group)
On the 23rd of June 2022 St Thomas More celebrated the annual feast day of St Thomas More. A Mass was held at St Columba’s Church in Wallsend, followed by a BBQ and games. This was the first event that has taken place since 2019, and it was fantastic to see everybody back together again after so long. This year’s theme was “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!” (Psalm 118:24).
A group of students went to the church throughout the school day to practice and prepare for the celebrations. There were lots of different jobs to do such as, setting up the orchestra and the band, practicing readings, taking items from school into the church hall for after the service, rehearsing the dance and sign language performances, and helping out by setting up the altar for the service.
A group of year 7 girls learnt and performed sign language to the final song in the service, “Joyful Joyful” by Brenton Brown. They volunteered their time to learn the song. Many of the girls had never learnt sign language before and it was a new experience for them. They thoroughly enjoyed it and learnt a lot, not just the signs, but about the language, how it is used, why it is used, the different formats, supporting people who use it, and how to communicate more effectively with the deaf and hard of hearing communities. We signed the song in Sign Supported English, meaning we used the signs of British Sign Language, with the grammar of spoken English, this made it easier for the congregation to follow along.
After the Mass, the congregation piled out into the bright sunshine and enjoyed some food and entertainment as well as having a chance to chat to students about all the work and opportunities that take place at St Thomas More. It was great to be back at St Columba’s for our Feast Day celebrations and we can’t wait for next year!