Category Archive: Youth News

Northampton Diocese Faith in Action Day

Sixty year ten students representing half of the High Schools of the Northampton Diocese gathered with Bishop Peter at St Paul’s, Milton Keynes for the second annual Schools Faith in Action Day.

The day, organised by St Paul’s, Pax Christi, and the Northampton Young Ministry Office, began with a chance for students to grill Bishop Peter on issues as varied as the importance of prayer, how he puts his faith into action, and the role of women in the Church.

Workshops gave the students chance to delve deeper into the issues with sessions on the dignity of work, peacemaking, and a presentation from Siobhan Doyle, a past pupil of St Paul’s who is currently a CAFOD Step into the Gap volunteer. Meanwhile the teachers had their own workshop exploring how peace and justice education can be incorporated more fully into the classroom.

In the afternoon James Trewby from Columban Justice and Peace Education led an entertaining and inspirational presentation reflecting on how we are called, as Christians, to act for justice and peace in our World.

Tracy Bempong, a St Paul’s student said ‘I felt like it was a great, fun experience’ while Eva Ukeleghe, also from St Paul’s said ‘I enjoyed learning and experiencing new facts about faith with new schools. I would recommend doing it.’

Jennifer Rowlands, a teacher from St Paul’s said ‘It was fantastic to see so many young people from across the diocese coming together to share their faith and to learn from one another’.

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Everyday Militarism Poster

Working with artist Abbey Thornton our friends at Quaker Peace Education have produced this excellent poster highlighting some of the many examples of Everyday Militarism that we encounter day-to-day in Britain and its effects on British life. It is a great way to spark off conversation about the roots of war and the kind of society we need to build peace and is suitable for use with children or adults.

The poster can be downloaded here or ordered from the Quaker bookshop (free plus p&p). We also have a stock of the posters in the Pax Christi shop so you can order directly from us.

Click to explore an interactive version here.

Alongside the poster is a set of ideas for learning and discussion activities which can be downloaded here.

The poster is also available in Welsh


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Creating a culture of peace in our schools

Creating a Culture of PeaceIn an article for the latest edition of the Universe Education Supplement Matt, our education worker, champions the value of peace education in schools.

Reflecting on Pope Francis’s words that we can all be artisans of peace Matt explains how, by fostering a culture of peace, our schools can play a central role in the forming of those peacemakers that our world so urgently needs.

The full article can be read here: Creating a culture of peace in our schools


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Encounter: A retreat for sixth form students

Encounter was the theme as a dozen sixth form theologians from St Paul’s Catholic School in Milton Keynes gather at St Columban’s in Solihull earlier this month for a retreat exploring the Christian vocation.

The retreat, jointly facilitated by Pax Christi and the Columban Missionaries, gave the students and staff alike the time and space to reflect on what it means to be a Christian and how we respond to the question Christ poses in the Gospel; Who do you say that I am? [Mk 8:27-33]

The undoubted highlight of the day was our encounter with Steph who reflected on how her Christian discipleship had led her to living a life of prayer, service, and action in a radical Christian community. Steph works supporting refugees and asylum seekers, in involved in campaigning against the arms trade, and recently she and her husband bought a house and donated it to be used by refugees.

Steph reflected on the centrality of prayer in her daily life and how time spent in prayer allowed her to open herself to loving and being loved. She challenged us all to be open to the transformative power of love in our lives.

Elsewhere we reflected on Pope Francis’s words on mercy, celebrated those people who have inspired and encouraged us in faith journey, and heard from Fr Peter Hughes SSC about the many years he spent ministering in Chile during the military dictatorship there.

The day concluded with a celebration mass led by Fr Peter at which we reflected prayerfully on that key question of our day, who do you say that I am? A joyful shared meal of pizza followed before we headed back to Milton Keynes encouraged and inspired.

Reflecting on the event in the days afterwards some of the students said:

“It was a good opportunity to reflect, not just on yourself, but also on our world and the wider community”

“The retreat was very good in so many different ways!”

“The talk with Steph was very good, it made you think about what you will do to help other people. The reflections also were good as it meant you could step back and pause. The time playing table tennis together was enjoyable too.”

“[I enjoyed spending] time talking to your friends and we had some interesting discussions”

“[I enjoyed] the time we had to spend with other people to encounter their opinions”


If you are interested in organising a similar retreat for your students contact Matt at our youth desk.

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Reflecting on Pax Christi’s Peace Education Work

This reflection was given by Matt, our Peace Education Worker, at the celebration of 35 years of the Christian Peace Education Fund on 2 November 2017.


I am particularly delighted that my reflection follows Jennie’s showcase of the Northampton Diocese Faith in Action Day – a day that I am immensely proud of my small part in making happen.

It was a great day for many reasons not least because the model – Diocesan Youth Team, School, and Youth J&P person coming together to organise a vibrant youth event rooted in Justice and Peace – is one that can be, and is, already being imitated, adapted, and used elsewhere.

But more than important I think is what the day was – a space where students from six schools (and their teachers) could step back from the day-to-day pressures and reflect upon what it means to live as a Christian – to study and work as part of a Catholic Faith Community.

Over the years I have been Pax Christi’s education worker – eight years now – we have increasingly identified our work in schools and with young people as work to foster a vocation to peacemakingthe Christian Vocation to Peacemaking. Space to critically reflect is fundamentally important to these efforts.

Anyone spending much time on Twitter is likely to encounter tweets from schools – I find them fascinating, an insight into what a school identifies as most worth celebrating of their work. But there is one style of tweet – and it is not a rare – that always bewilders me.

The tweet shows a group of young people, a couple of adults in sharp suits, and a couple of robots of some sort. The caption reads something along the lines of: Our students loved their STEM – that’s Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics – loved their STEM Day with BAE Systems.

Bewildering from any schools but from a Catholic School – and that is not at all unusual – I find it utterly flabbergasting. Especially given how strong our current Pope has been on the Arms Trade. You will remember his prayer intention for June this year:

It is an absurd contradiction to speak of peace, to negotiate peace, and at the same time, promote or permit the arms trade.

Is this war or that war really a war to solve problems or is it a commercial war for selling weapons in illegal trade and so that the merchants of death get rich?

Let us put an end to this situation. Let us pray all together that national leaders may firmly commit themselves to ending the arms trade which victimizes so many innocent people.

I don’t think I am being unreasonable if I suggest that statements like this might make Catholic Schools think carefully about who is invited into their schools.

Rather beautifully, the last time one of these tweets appeared on my timeline immediately below it was another tweet that provoked a different, rather more joyful, response.

This one – also a Catholic School – tweeted an image of a couple of their students standing with a couple of military personnel dressed in rather eccentric outfits. The caption this time read something along the lines of… Our sixth form are at an alternatives to university day… I think we’ll keep looking!

Wonderful! Unthinkable that they might join the army.

The tweets had me wondering what made these schools so different in how they interacted with war and the machinery of war? And I think the answer is space to reflect.

I do not believe that the school who invites BAE Systems in is doing so out of a positive and enthusiastic choice to embrace the Arms Trade and all it stands for. I am sure that it is simply a teacher biting the hands off someone willing to provide amazingly good Science workshops well beyond the capacity of the school and, crucially, do it for free.

I would be amazed if they had even heard the Pope’s words about the Arms Trade as I reluctantly concede that not everyone has alerts on their phone whenever the Pope mentions war, peace, arms trade, nuclear weapons, or whatever.

What I think is a crucial difference is whether or not there is not space for our Catholic schoolteachers to reflect on what it means to be a Catholic School, what it means to be a Catholic Teacher, what it means to be involved in the formation of young Christians.

It is creating this space to reflect on what it means to be a Christian, on the call to follow the nonviolent Christ, that is central to the peace education work of Pax Christi.

You can see it in our work with young people – the talks, workshops, seminars, and retreats where young people have the opportunity to critically reflect on the work of Christian peacemaking.

It is seen in our resources produced to support RE curriculum – producing high quality resources for those points in the curriculum where our expertise is particularly valuable.

And it is in our assemblies, liturgies and our prayers – making space for peace in the everyday of school life.

And increasingly, it is in our work with teachers – the biggest growth area of our work is our Catholic Spirituality INSET that we offer in collaboration with the Columbans and the Salesians and the support of many others. I think we were all a bit surprised by how popular it has been – and I am struggling to get used to taking bookings nearly twelve months in advance – but perhaps this speaks of a need, a desire, to create that space for teachers to think theologically about their vocation.

We ought to be and are immeasurably grateful to the Christian Peace Education Fund – and to its supporters and funders – for all of their efforts in supporting, resourcing, encouraging, and supporting this peace education work. It has been a richly productive and valuable relationship and one I hope will continue for the next 35 years and beyond.

Find out more about the Christian Peace Education fund at

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