Fr Ignacio Blasco’s visit to St Paul’s High School wythenshawe

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Last week I was privileged to spend a fantastic day at St. Paul’s Secondary School in Wythenshawe with students, St. Paul’s chaplaincy team, fellow CAFOD volunteers and visiting priest from Guatemala, Father Ignacio. Father Ignacio had come to share his story of serving in a parish in Guatemala where there are high levels of poverty and severe mud slides because of very heavy rains which cause enormous damage. A lot of his parishioners are also made up of people from the Mayan culture and way of life, and he told us a challenge was to re-think the way he evangelised to them. Rather than imposing straight forwardly Western Catholicism on the parish, he said there is a real need to learn from the ways that these parishioners already worship, and to allow that to influence the way he serves as a Catholic priest. A real symbiotic relationship which is inspiring to hear about.
Father Ignacio spoke to the students about his parish, the work that needs doing, and the difference CAFOD had made already, which was marked. Following the talks, the students were split into groups and attended a workshop reflecting on the talk. I led a lino printing workshop with a small group of students, including some students from Loreto Manchester 6th Form College and Brownedge St. Mary’s High School. The students were given a lino with an image inspired by the Mayan culture to cut out, and were then able to print these images onto paper using ink and rollers. The young people were very enthusiastic, and far exceeded my expectations for the outputs. Everyone produced fantastic, brightly coloured prints which were then shared with the rest of the students and some given to the chaplaincy to be displayed. I had a brilliant time, getting a bit messy with ink, and hearing the insights of the young people about what Father Ignacio had said. It was a real learning experience. Some students had not previously known Guatemala existed, let alone where it was, and were intrigued to discover the kinds of challenges facing people living in that parish, people who are in fact not dissimilar from them.
The day ended with a lunch provided by the school and chaplaincy team for all the staff and students who had taken part. There was a lovely buzz, and I look forward to hopefully going back into St. Paul’s in the future. A fantastic school with a tremendous chaplaincy team and inspiring students engaged with issues of social justice and making a difference in the world. Thank you to all involved!
Iona Reid-Dalglish (Iona was a CAFOD Gap year student who is currently volunteering for CAFOD Shrewsbury

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