Growing the spirituality of children and young people


No matter where you worship across the Diocese, Leicester Cathedral is your Cathedral, here for all to share in. Everyone is welcome to visit, whether that’s for silent prayer and a service; to look around the beautiful building, or to search for King Richard III.


During a recent school holiday, a group of children and adults from churches in Birstall and Wanlip came into the city to explore the Cathedral and all that it offers.
Something of a ‘practical mission’, a day at the Cathedral was the opportunity to grow the spirituality of the young people from their church, developing their everyday faith, while also offering assistance to families for whom school holiday is a juggling act of work and childcare.


The day out was the idea of Rose Parrott, the leader of Children and Youth Ministry in the parish. “The visit is part of a wider plan in the parish for extra learning, by going to different Christian places,” explains Rose.


Janet Waters is a teacher in the young people’s group and the Welcome to the Lord’s Table course, at St James the Great Church in Birstall, and helped organise the visit. She says: “Families walk through our doors looking for something for their children to do and we are finding ways to offer them what they want.


“The children had asked questions about the Bishop and Diocese, but many had simply never been to the Cathedral before, or seen the tomb of Richard III,” explains Janet.
“We also thought a day out was a good opportunity to involve mums and grandmas and helpers, and get to know each other better.”


During the morning, the group enjoyed a tour of the Cathedral from Andy Heafford, Education Officer at Leicester Cathedral. The children asked many questions and showed great interest. They had been learning about the stained glass windows in their own church and enjoyed looking at the windows in the Cathedral. After a lovely lunch in the White Rose Café next door, the group came back in for the 1pm service. With many of the children having completed the Welcome to the Lord’s Table course, it gave them the opportunity to take part in the Eucharist, led by Canon Chancellor, Paul Rattigan.


“This was a wonderful experience,” says Janet. “The children felt special as they had reserved seats in the middle of the Cathedral and were actively involved in the service.
“One comment from them was they preferred the Ribena we give them at our church rather than the wine!”


“Thanks to Paul’s teaching we are still working with the children remembering the different words for this service and their meaning.”


After the service, there was a bit of free time to walk round the Cathedral, read signs, ask more questions and sketch anything that took their interest, before home time. The following Sunday in church at the morning service they gave feedback to the congregation about their visit.


Having had such a good time and been made to feel so welcome in the Cathedral, the children sent a card of thanks, with comments such as: “Thank you. Your church was amazing.” “I loved the question asking.” “It was very interesting.” And, “Thank you for helping me learn more about the Cathedral and Christ.”


Andy Heafford, says: “Visiting a place of worship where ‘Generations have trod, have trod, have trod’ (Gerard Manley Hopkins – God’s Grandeur) is a powerful thing. We share a rich faith history and helping children to explore this is a real privilege. Small details or complex art fascinate both young and old eyes alike and reveal something of God and Man.


“Sharing a few hours with children from Wanlip and Birstall churches was a real pleasure. The opportunity to question and explore and to pray and participate in the Lunchtime Eucharist was a shared blessing. I am so grateful to the leaders and parents of the children for enriching all of our lives in this shared experience.”


Rose agrees it was a wonderful experience: “Many of us make Christian friends in many places, and they stay with us, wherever we end up living in the world,” she says.


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