The big community event at the Holy Family School in Keighley, west Yorkshire, during the autumn term each year is the celebration of Anointing the Sick, hosted by the school on behalf of the local churches.
Tim Garthwaite, acting lay chaplain, explained: “There comes a point in any serious illness when you actually realise that you are really ill. The expression used in Pastoral Care of the Sick is when one’s health or wellbeing is ‘seriously impaired’ by illness. At that point there is great comfort in knowing that others recognise your condition and, to some extent, being able to talk about it.
“As Catholics, we are fortunate that we have a special rite for such times when we have physical signs of God’s grace and the prayer of the whole community.
“The students who will travel to Lourdes next summer to act as nurses and helpers were out in force, wearing their uniform yellow jumpers for the first time.”
Patrick Moran, pilgrimage leader for the trip to Lourdes, said: “This is a gentle introduction for the students who may have to face some serious nursing issues while they are in Lourdes. Most of our guests on Sunday were ‘walking wounded’ and generally did not need much help beyond befriending for the afternoon.”
Mgr Andrew Summersgill, newly appointed governor of the school, celebrated the Mass of Anointing, assisted by Fr McCreadie, Fr O’Keeffe and Fr Walsh from the local churches. After the religious celebration the afternoon continued with a tea.
Next year will see the 30th anniversary of this celebration which began in Keighley in 1983.