Chaplaincy & Services | Posted 19.10.2016

Ignite Conference at Donhead School

Ignite Conference Donhead School, Wimbledon 16th- 18th October 2016

This year, Donhead School, Wimbledon welcomed four pupils from each of the Jesuit junior schools. The conference is an opportunity for the children to share news of their schools and deepen their shared Jesuit identity.

“Ignite”, is drawn from the words of St Ignatius who challenges us to “Go forth and set the world on fire”, in other words, to make a difference in the lives of others.

Four Upper Elements (year 6) pupils, Eden Tyldesley, Ella Elliott, James Dodd and Jim Canty travelled to Donhead to meet pupils from St John’s Beaumont, Windsor, St Aloysius Junior School, Glasgow, Barlborough Hall, near Sheffield, St Joseph’s, Hurst Green and of course, pupils at Donhead school.      SMH travelled by train with pupils from St Joseph’s, their head teacher Mrs Smith and Mrs McCullough, SMH lay chaplain.

The pupils were billeted with families of Donhead pupils for the two nights. An ice-breaker session on Monday morning helped the children get to know each other. Later, they explored the Jesuit Pupil Profile virtues of “Active” and “Curious” and how this helps them develop into Men and Women for Others and “care for our common home” – the earth and its resources. Some time was spent outside gathering leaves, acorns, conkers etc “Finding God in All Things” and making a collage of these.

The afternoon was spent at the all England Lawn Tennis Club and we experienced a wonderful tour of Centre Court, the BBC studio, the post-match interview room and the roof-top media spaces.

The following day, the children prepared for Mass in the new chapel at Donhead and the Ignite conference marked the occasion of the first Mass to be celebrated there. Fr Paul Fletcher SJ presided and as he is congenitally deaf, he spoke and used sign language throughout; taking time to teach the children a few signs also. It was a hugely moving and expressive delivery of the Mass. Ella gave the first reading, James and Eden, the bidding prayers and Jim the offertory.

St Mary’s Hall pupils followed this with a very self-assured presentation of some items from the Stonyhurst Collections before a drama workshop on the Year of Mercy. We finished the morning with a session on climate change by Bernie Aton from the Philippines which had been arranged by Jesuit Missions. The children considered their contribution the Pope’s plea for climate preservation in his encyclical “Laudato Si”.

We are grateful for the warm welcome from Donhead School throughout our visit, to the host parents and to Mrs Groenen (Donhead Lay Chaplain) and her colleagues for organising this inspiring conference. The children gained enormously from being exposed to the wider family of Jesuit schools in the UK and exploring their shared identity and mission.


Clare McCullough, SMH Lay Chaplain