Unveiling the triumphs of a Jesuit Education

Gold awards

Continuing an esteemed tradition of developing young people to go out in the world and create positive change for others, seven pupils at Stonyhurst College in Lancashire have received top recognition for their charitable endeavours over the last few years.

The group of Poetry (Year 12) pupils have been presented with the Faith in Action Gold Award after going the extra mile to organize events and fundraisers at the College and participate in community projects both locally and as far away as Africa.

Faith in Action (FIA) is a National Award from the Catholic Youth Ministry Federation, which aims to recognise, reward and celebrate the active faith and service of young people, and has been an opportunity encouraged at Stonyhurst for the past six years, with 14 pupils, including the 2024 cohort, progressing through the Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards during that time, and pupils across all College year groups currently working towards their Bronze and Silver.

It is a programme that aligns strongly with the school’s Jesuit heritage and ethos that nurtures pupils to become ‘men and women for others’ through the Jesuit Profile where beliefs are put into action by helping others and making the world a better place.

Catherine Crombie, Stonyhurst’s Director of Christian Formation, explains: “Pupils of all faiths and none are welcome at Stonyhurst, and all of them have the same exceptional educational experience. A Jesuit education is entirely focused on human excellence in its simplest form, and while academic excellence is a core part of this education, it is very much about the person as a whole.”

“We are the oldest continuously active Jesuit school in the world, and to this day, pupils still learn to embody the school motto ‘Quant je puis’, meaning ‘as much as I can’, by asking themselves how they can make a greater impact, and Faith in Action exemplifies this.”

“I am delighted that our pupils' efforts are being recognised by this significant award. Their dedication to being leaders in both the prayer life and social justice work of the College, over a five-year period, has been truly exemplary in their embodiment of our core Jesuit values of being people for others and giving as much as they can.”

Katie, one of this year’s Gold Award recipients, says: “Faith in Action allows us all to do a small bit to help with big problems. It gives us the opportunity to raise awareness about things that we find important, and it very quickly became something very important to me and has been a big part of my school life. I have had the help of teachers and my peers along the way, but ultimately, I have found that I can always help in a small way.” Indeed, a fundraiser for Ukraine which Katie helped organise, involving a teachers versus pupils rounders match and a host of stalls with snacks and games for everyone, raised over £600.

When working towards the Gold Award, Katie attended a school trip to Zimbabwe to teach young children to play tag rugby as a way of encouraging socializing and exercise, which she now looks back on as an “eye opening” and “life changing” experience, as well as being her standout memory of the whole FIA experience.

The programme has also changed the outlook of another of this year’s Gold recipients, Elliot, who utilised his years of film-making experience to break new ground and create several short documentaries about Christian persecution, even travelling to the Houses of Parliament to interview MPs about the issue. He says: “I didn’t realise that Christian persecution was such a widespread issue, so raising awareness about the crisis through the medium of film was a brilliant opportunity. After the first interview, I realised that video journalism was a career that I would like to get into, and the Award has not only helped open my mind far more to being proactive, but I’ve also learned to question things that we take for granted and about underreported issues.”

Elliot also says he enjoys being surrounded by people at the College that want to be making a difference, just like himself, and adds: “I think the Jesuit ethos of Stonyhurst is something that is hard to come across anywhere else. The values of the Jesuit Profile are ones that I try to live my life by; being curious about other cultures and opinions; being loving towards others, rather than simply being tolerant; being intentional, from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep on how you interact with people throughout the day. I feel part of something much greater than myself, as while a Jesuit education considers each pupil individually as unique, there is also a great focus on caring for one another.”

Katie agrees: “The teachers encourage us to always do our best and the trips that the school offers are often once-in-a-lifetime experiences and change the way many of us want to live our lives. The number of opportunities we have to perfect our own personal skills which we can then go into the world and use to enhance other people’s lives is astronomical, and this dual perspective is what makes Stonyhurst unique.”

The Jesuit values underpin all teaching and are woven into all aspects of life at Stonyhurst. Even the youngest children from age three are helped to appreciate what they have and learn to make the most of their talents, as well as celebrating the successes of others.

Within Stonyhurst’s 1,000-acre estate, there is no shortage of opportunities through the school’s broad and innovative co-curricular provision, encompassing more than 75 clubs and activities. Along with a host of indoor and outdoor sports courts and pitches, two performance theatres and on-site museum, other facilities include a swimming pool, golf course and simulator, and a working astronomical observatory. Pupils can also represent their year group on the Pupil Council to bring about change to their daily school lives, and aside from Faith in Action, chaplaincy co-curricular includes Prayer Groups, Altar Serving, the Arrupe Service Programme and the Environment Society, among many other options for formation and social justice.

Catherine concludes: “At Stonyhurst there is something for everyone, no matter what their interests and passions are, and as teachers and educators we are interested in each pupil’s capabilities and how we can develop them. We make it our mission to find out what they want to achieve in the world.”

Stonyhurst would like to congratulate Katie, Elliot, Daisy, Lilia, Hima, Peter and Alfie on this fantastic achievement.