The Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School, London, held its Year 10 retreat at St Augustine’s on Thursday 26th and Friday 27th June 2014, bringing its pupils to Ramsgate for the first time. Half the year came on Thursday, and the other half on Friday.
The main features of the day had the pupils put into two groups. One group watched a film telling the story of St Augustine and his place in English history – the film was partly shot in St Augustine’s itself. The other group was halved again, and taken on tours of the site. One group was led by the Rector and the other by the Centre Manager. These tours gave the pupils an appreciation of Pugin and his creation, and the meanings of the many items and designs in St Augustine’s. In particular the symbolism of the designs in the windows and stonework was pointed out. They were introduced to the medieval concept of conveying beliefs, ideas, and scriptural stories through stained glass and other images.
After the tours Fr Marcus gave a short talk to the pupils. Appropriately for a Catholic school’s retreat this talk was on the nature of Catholicism in England, and its long history dating back to the Roman Empire and, later but most especially, to St Augustine’s mission in 597. Fr Marcus explained how brave St Augustine had been in his mission, and that, in whatever line of work or life we live, we must be just as courageous in living the Christian life.
The talk was followed by a period of prayer led by the lead teacher, Mr. Kelly. After this, Mass was celebrated by Fr Marcus. The relic of St Augustine was venerated by the pupils and staff following Mass. During the prayer and Mass confessions were heard, and there was a steady stream of boys throughout.
Fr Marcus said, “The Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School retreat were excellent days. The boys seemed to engage with both the historical and spiritual aspects of their visit, and I hope they benefitted from their retreat. We very much look forward to welcoming them again, and expanding our provision to schools.”
The fundraising campaign for St Augustine’s to match fund a Heritage Lottery Fund Grant is ongoing and you can donate to it here. This will enable the construction of an Education, Research, and Visitor Centre which will greatly enhance school visits as well as opportunities for other groups, tourists, general public, and researchers to learn about and enjoy Pugin’s designs.