‘The Saints were not Superhuman. They were people who loved God in their hearts, and who shared this joy with others. ‘Pope Francis
At St Catherine’s we want to help our children to respond to Pope Francis’ call to holiness. As such, the Saints play an important role in motivating our pupils. They inspire us to lead joyful lives; they serve as role models; they teach us that holiness means being who you are; and they pray for us from heaven, giving us the strength to be who God created us to be.
On entry to St Catherine’s, each class is dedicated to a carefully chosen Saint. Each cohort keeps their class Saint as they progress throughout the school and it forms their identity during their time with us.
As part of our Enrichment Units, each cohort revisits their Class Patron Saint at the start of every Academic Year. As they progress through the school, pupils learn more about their Class Saint and increasingly make links between Gospel stories, the lives of the Saints and how they should live their own lives.
The tradition started in 2015, in my first year of as Head of St Catherine’s, when I resolved to dedicate each class to a Saint. As a Leadership Team, we wanted our Saints to reflect the diverse nature of our community – in gender and ethnicity. It was important to us that they were relatable to young children, so we deliberately included many modern Saints, who demonstrate ways of dealing with very current challenges, such as modern slavery and homelessness. We wanted to make the children realise that Sainthood extends beyond the traditional Saints that they may already know.
Each year, the school community (parents, staff and children) is asked to nominate saints for consideration as the future EYFS class Saint. From those nominated, Year 6 children research the options, debate and then vote on the future EYFS Saint – in this way passing on their faith to our new pupils and leaving their legacy with the school.
As part of the passing on of their faith, our Year 6 pupils in Bakhita and Orione selected St Martin de Porres, who will represent our new EYFS classes.
EYFS/Y1 Saint Martin de Porres – A freed slave from Panama, of African or possibly Native American descent, St Martin de Porres was the first mixed race saint. A Dominican, he was praised for his unconditional care of all people, regardless of race or wealth. Martin de Porres is the Patron Saint of people of mixed race.
Year 2 Saint Jacinta – A child Saint, canonised in 2017, Saint Jacinta is the youngest Saint who was not canonised as a martyr. Selected by Year 6 in honour of our Retiring Assistant Head and RE Subject Leader of over 20 years, Catherine Jacinta Wildey. Saint Jacinta is the Patron Saint of sick people.
Year 3 Pope St John Paul II – Selected in the year of John Paul II’s canonisation, he is the Patron Saint of World Youth Day.
Year 4 St Faustyna – Selected to reflect the high proportion of Polish families within the class, Saint Faustyna is Patron Saint of Divine Mercy.
Year 5 St Teresa – Selected in the year of Mother Teresa of Calcutta’s canonisation, she is the Patron Saint of World Youth Day.
Year 6 St Katherine Drexel – The first Saint born a US citizen and Patron Saint of philanthropy (giving money or gifts to charity).
Even after leaving St Catherine’s, the classes are thought of and referred to in terms of their Saint. So far, the St Catherine’s alumni include:
Saint Hurtado – a Chilean Jesuit and Patron Saint of poor people and street children.
Saint Maximillian Kolbe – a WWII hero and Patron Saint of imprisoned people and political prisoners.
Saint Kateri Tekakwitha – the first Native American Saint and Patron Saint of ecology and the environment.
Saint Mother Lupita – Patron Saint of nurses.
St John Bosco – A priest who set up schools for the poor, Saint John Bosco is Patron Saint of school children and young people with challenging behaviour.
St Alphonsa – The first Indian woman to be canonised, Saint Alphonsa is the Patron Saint against illness.
St Luigi Orione – Patron Saint of the poor, homeless and abandoned, St Orione was active in answering the social needs of his nation.
St Josephine Bakhita – A Sudanese-Italian woman, St Bakhita was a former slave. She is the Patron Saint of human-trafficking and modern-day slavery.
St John Henry Newman – A theologian and poet, canonized this year, who is patron Saint of our DOWAT sister school, The John Henry Newman Catholic School, Stevenage.
Antonio Vieira – A black African priest, born in Portugal, who worked to abolish slavery, discrimination against Jews and help the poor.
The beginning of each school year is set aside to learning about our class Saint. As the children move throughout the year, their understanding of their own Saint deepens – the annual revisiting allows them to form a spiritual relationship, appreciate the Saint’s life and work and develop an appreciation of how that Saint can inspire and guide them. At St Catherine’s, every prayer ends with, “St Catherine of Siena and St Michael, Pray For Us,” and every prayer said in class ends with, “St Catherine of Siena, [NAME OF CLASS SAINT] and St Michael, Pray For Us” – a constant reminder of the role of the Saints in our lives.
Our Class Saints are special to us. On their Feast Day, the class comes to school in their own clothes, carries out work relating to their Saint and then has a party. They are celebrated by the whole school community and wished a ‘Happy Feast Day’ by everyone who sees them.