Children at St Mary's primary school at Congleton in Cheshire start year of prayer for Mary

The Scripture passage in Bishop Mark Davies’s first pastoral letter to Shrewsbury Diocese on October 3 2010 was “Lord, increase our faith” (Luke 17:5).

Now Bishop Davies has invited the faithful of the diocese to join in prayer with Mary for a year which will end on the November 21 2011, the memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. At the end of the year Shrewsbury diocese will be re-dedicated to Our Lady, Help of Christians. For the children of St Mary’s primary school at Congleton in Cheshire East the year began with Fr Bill Kilkenny celebrating Mass in school for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.

Mass was followed by an assembly during which each year group presented aspects of the life of Mary through drama, poetry, music and prayer. Children in Reception and Year 6 showed their joint artwork: a mosaic of Our Lady and an image in batik. Year 1 shared their pictures of the life of Our Lady, which included “Mary sewing clothes for Jesus” and “Mary going to see Elizabeth and the baby John the Baptist”. Year 2’s dramatisation of the finding of the child Jesus in the temple highlighted how worried Mary and Joseph must have been when they realised Jesus was missing. Year 6 acted out the wedding feast at Cana and explained that this is one of the Mysteries of Light.

The children’s presentations were interspersed with beautiful singing such as “Immaculate Mary”, “Sing of a Girl” and the little known traditional carol, “The Seven Joys of Mary”.

Helen Pile, headteacher, said: “This is going to be such a special year for our school and the whole diocese. St Mary’s was established in 1858, the same year that Our Lady appeared to Bernadette.

“Parents, parishioners, staff and governors all commented upon the wonderful atmosphere during our Mass and assembly last week.”