Report from our Faith in Action Volunteer

17th May 2018 - by Fr Denis Carter

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Are you worried that your child has no connection to nature? Afraid that youngsters are spending to much time facing a screen? Well have no fear Columban JPIC Education will shove them right back outside and rub them on some form of tree/bush/pond combination.

Working with Columban Justice and Peace Education is, if nothing else, endlessly varied. We recently ran a program where we invited two groups of Primary school children to the Columban house near Solihull. This ‘Creation Day’ made full use of the Columban House and expertise. The children were invited out in to the garden and were shown around by Ger Clarke from the Columbans in Ireland. Ger’s expert knowledge on nature had everyone looking at: Newts and oak leaves, Deer tracks and dandelions in a new way; especially when they could see them under a microscope. This coupled with a series of diverting activities made by myself; reflections, liturgies and constant connections to Laudato Si’made by James Trewby, made the day both entertaining and meditative. It obviously helped that all of this happened in glorious sunshine.

April also marked the end of of a very successful series of parish-based family focused workshops. These workshops covered: Peace, Poverty, Care for creation and Migration. We ran these in an attempt to have these topics engaged with in a family situation where everyone of all ages is engaged through the topics. This involved sharing information and activities in the sessions after Mass on Sunday, as well as providing activities to do in the time between sessions. We received some good feedback from families including one, which in my mind made the entire program worth while: ‘I never connected these issues to church’. For so many people ‘church’ is bound in the church walls, purely sacramental in nature. I see JPIC Education work as a way of connecting the reality of Catholic social teaching and practice to those who through a lack of education or engagement never really advanced from the simple practice of childhood. We tried to make the gospel something lived and breathed and not just listened to.

Coming up we have an interesting May, with the Faith in Action volunteer running workshops in primary schools and giving a talk to Birmingham University Catholic Society among other things.

Jack Edwards

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