As a response to Pope Francis’ call to celebrate a ‘Year of Mercy’, the Castlerigg Manor team have been out and about across the Diocese recently - this time visiting some of our primary schools. For the Year of Mercy the Youth Service are offering a day workshop to primary schools to encourage children to think about God’s mercy in new and exciting ways. So far we have visited Preston, Lytham, Frizington, Barrow-in-Furness, Maryport & Carlisle, with more destinations still to come! The days in the schools have been insightful and engaging for the team, and hopefully for the young people and staff that we have been ministering too also. We have found that often the children have a good initial idea of what mercy is, and why it is important in our day to day lives. A comment from one child was that mercy “is a way in which we can make other people around us feel worthwhile”.

We recently spent two days in Blessed Sacrament Primary School in Preston, working with years three and four and their teachers. Using drama and cartoon strips we looked at the story of the Prodigal Son - stopping at various points to reflect on how we would have felt and would we have behaved differently? The courage shown by the son and the love of the father in welcoming him home led us into thinking about Pope Francis' invitation to celebrate the Year of Mercy. We looked at images of how we receive mercy, from friends and family, and from God, especially in the sacraments, and how we show mercy to others, thinking about the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. The children all enjoyed the opportunity to take a mini retreat from the usual routine of school life and left with artworks which will remind them of the mercy of God and their own commitment to be merciful to others.

In addition to the work we have been doing in primary schools, we have also been working the year of mercy into our retreats here at Castlerigg Manor at any opportunity we can. A few members of the team have also created a ‘Year of Mercy board’, as a visual aid for our visitors to help them understand a little more about this special jubilee year.

 “God’s mercy transforms human hearts; it enables us, through the experience of a faithful love, to become merciful in turn.”

- Pope Francis – February 2016