World Youth Day is much more than a Catholic “Woodstock”

At the start of this week, we welcomed back our WYD pilgrims and Group Leader: Miss Mirabello, Miss Rothwell (now at MCC Penshurst),  Holly Stansfield, Jasmin Juncal, Tara Lillicot, Jamie Howe, Isabella Czarnecki, Caitlin Micallef, Karina Amato, Arianna Faith. Aylah West, Claudia Allison, Annabel Bennett, Georgia Malaxos, Celia Finch, Sophia Tzatzimakis, Maddison Barone, Chloe Allcorn, Adrianna Santos and Janice Lewis. We are all so grateful they returned to us safely, filled with the Holy Spirit.



Since Pope John Paul II launched World Youth Day thirty years ago, it’s become not just the Catholic Church’s biggest event, but also the world’s largest gathering of people, period.

Over the years some critics have tried to dismiss this gathering as merely a Catholic Woodstock- or, in modern terms, a South by Southwest or Coachella equivalent. While the comparison is apt in terms of size and enthusiasm, it fails to recognize World Youth Day’s substantive contributions to both Church and civil life these past three decades.

For starters, World Youth Day has been one of the primary motivations for vocations to religious life in recent years. It’s no coincidence that in the very years in which many of the Church’s seminaries were in decline and vocations around the globe were plummeting, World Youth Day was founded.  World Youth Day, by providing an occasion for Catholic identity to be presented in a new and creative way, effectively created a breeding ground for a renewal in religious life.

While World Youth Day may only be a week-long event every two to three years in one particular location, it’s also effective in creating new programming on a local level. Archbishop Anthony Fisher, during his time as an auxiliary bishop was tasked with planning the 2008 World Youth Day in Sydney said “Before the lead up to World Youth Day there might have been thirty or forty youth groups in the city. Today there would be at least two hundred flourishing youth groups and ministries in this city and World Youth Day is entirely the cause of that-at least after the Holy Spirit!”

In his closing address of his first World Youth Day, Pope Francis told the young people gathered in Rio, Brazil in 2013 that he wanted them to go out and “make a mess.” It wasn’t a directive to make a literal mess – it was a call to shake things up or, to use another phrase he’s keen on, a call to conversion. World Youth Day is a time in which young people from around the world enter as one type of person, and they leave changed.

For some it may be a call to enter religious life but for others it’s a time to return home to start a new ministry at their parish, to visit those in prison, and to serve those in need. What it certainly is for everyone is an opportunity to reject the “globalization of indifference” that Francis continues to preach as a central message to his papacy. World Youth Day provides an occasion to pass along this zeal, and a chance for folks to take it home with them.

As World Youth Day returns home to the native land of its founder, the legacy of John Paul II will be given a megaphone in the witness of Pope Francis. As John Paul II reminded the attendees of another World Youth Day in Poland in 1991, “Be demanding of the world around you; be demanding first of all with yourselves.” And as Pope Francis pleaded in Rio: “I ask you, instead, to be revolutionaries, to swim against the tide; yes, I am asking you to rebel against this culture that sees everything as temporary and that ultimately believes that you are incapable of responsibility, that you are incapable of true love.”

Both are messages that encourage young people to change the world and a reminder that it begins with personal conversion. For the two million young people that will gather in Krakow in just a few weeks, this World Youth Day may very well serve as that starting point.




World Youth Day 2016 Krakow Prayer

God, merciful Father,

in your Son, Jesus Christ, you have revealed your love

and poured it out upon us in the Holy Spirit, the Comforter,

We entrust to you today the destiny of the world and of every man and woman”.

We entrust to you in a special way

young people of every language, people and nation:

guide and protect them as they walk the complex paths of the world today

and give them the grace to reap abundant fruits

from their experience of the Krakow World Youth Day.


Heavenly Father,

grant that we may bear witness to your mercy.

Teach us how to convey the faith to those in doubt,

hope to those who are discouraged,

love to those who feel indifferent,

forgiveness to those who have done wrong

and joy to those who are unhappy.

Allow the spark of merciful love

that you have enkindled within us

become a fire that can transform hearts

and renew the face of the earth.


Mary, Mother of Mercy, pray for us.

Saint John Paul II, pray for us.

Saint Faustina, pray for us.



The pitfall of using other children as benchmarks

Benchmarking children’s progress with that of other children is not a wise parenting strategy. Inevitably, it will lead to parent frustration as there will always be a child who performs better than your own on any scale you use.

Have you ever compared your child’s behaviour, academic progress or social skills with a sibling or your friend’s children?

Comparing your child with others is a stress-inducing and, ultimately, useless activity.

But it’s hard to resist, as we tend to assess our progress in any area of life by checking out how we compare with our peers.

When you were a child in school you probably compared yourself to your schoolmates. Your teachers may not have graded you, but you knew who the smart kids were and where you ranked in the pecking order.

Now that you have kids of your own do you still keep an eye on your peers? Do you use the progress and behaviour of their kids as benchmarks to help you assess your own performance as well as your child’s progress? Or perhaps you compare your child to yourself at the same age?

Benchmarking children’s progress with that of other children is not a wise parenting strategy. Inevitably, it will lead to parent frustration as there will always be a child who performs better than your own on any scale you use.

Kids develop at their own rates

Each child has his or her own developmental clock, which is nearly impossible to alter. There are slow bloomers, early developers, bright sparks and steady-as-you-go kids in every classroom. The slow bloomers can cause the most concern for parents who habitually compare children to siblings, their friends’ kids and even themselves when they were in school.

The trick is to focus on your child’s improvement and effort and use your child’s results as the benchmark for his or her progress and development. “Your spelling is better today than it was a few months ago” is a better measure of progress than “Your spelling is the best in the class!”

Gender matters

It’s no secret that boys’ and girls’ brains were developed by different architects.
One major difference lies around timing,
or maturity. The maturity gap between
boys and girls is anywhere between 12 months and two years. This gap seems to be consistent all the way to adulthood.

Quite simply, girls have a developmental head start over boys in areas such as handwriting, verbal skills and relationship skills.

Boys benefit greatly from teaching strategies designed for their specific needs. They also benefit from having teachers and parents who recognise that patience is a virtue when teaching and raising boys, as it seems to take longer for many boys to learn and develop.

Kids have differenttalents, interests and strengths

So your eight-year-old can’t hit a tennis ball like Novak Djokovic, even though your neighbour’s child can. Avoid comparing the two as your child may not care about tennis anyway.  It’s better to help your child identify his or her own talents and interests. Also recognise that the strengths and interests of a child may be completely different to those of his or her peers and siblings.

Avoid linking your parenting self-esteem to your child’s performance

As a parent you should take pride in your children’s performance at school, in sport or their leisure activities. Seeing your child do well is one of the unsung pleasures of parenting. You should also celebrate their achievements and milestones, such as taking their first steps, getting their first goal in a game or getting great marks at school.

However, you shouldn’t have too much personal stake in your children’s success or milestones, as this close association makes it hard to separate yourself from them. It may also lead to excessive parental pressure for kids to do well for the wrong reasons – to please you!

The maxim “You are not your child” is a challenging but essential parental concept to live by. Doing so takes real maturity and altruism, but it is the absolute foundation of that powerful thing known as “unconditional love”.

(From Michael Grose, )



Bethany College Cookbook

I am pleased to announce the winners of the Bethany College “Name the Cookbook” competition.     

With their entry “Together We Cook”, the winners are: 

Anna Brown – SO301

Dinuki Algama – SO301

Fiona Pelosi – SO305

Winners will receive Westfield vouchers. Congratulations girls.


Our mantra:

“Girls can do anything.
Bethany girls can do everything!*
(*except divide by zero)”
Vicki Lavorato