Spiritual continuity during a Global Pandemic - Ratcliffe College

Spiritual continuity during a Global Pandemic

Fr. Philip Sainter I.C, Fr. President at Ratcliffe College, discusses how Faith continues to lie at the heart and soul of the Ratcliffe Community and how the introduction of short topical sessions for our boarding community has been a particularly useful way to broaden engagement.

“That is why I am reminding you now to fan into a flame the gift of God that you possess through the laying on of my hands …  So, you are never to be ashamed of witnessing to our Lord …” –  2 Tim1:6-8

As a community here at Ratcliffe College, we have faced all the problems Covid–19 has brought, with the ensuing guidelines received from the Government and our Diocese. At the same time we have been navigating the problems and challenges associated with trying to promote and communicate the catholic faith to those for whom English is not their first language, and whose religious beliefs and cultural background differs radically from those of our own.

In response to this, we have seized the opportunity to embark on something new – a course of Sunday catechesis for our boarding students. We have considered these brief 15 minutes catechetical sessions most beneficial.  They will, undoubtedly, assist the boarders, of whom only 18% are Roman Catholic, understand what lies at the heart of Ratcliffe College.

Whilst the obligations to attend Sunday Mass have been temporarily suspended, we continue to celebrate daily Mass in accordance with the official guidelines.  Since the beginning of the 2020 Autumn term, following the ‘voluntary’ Sunday Mass, the boarders assemble in the College Chapel where, with the assistance of the Lay Chaplain, Fr President has presented the following:

Catechesis topics

  • God’s desire to ‘contact us’
  • Entering the presence of God particularly in the sacred space of the chapel
  • Biblical examples of those who have been in God’s presence
    • Kneeling, worshipping, dialoguing
    • Respect, reverence leading to
    • Repentance in general
    • The importance of repentance at the start of Mass
  • Meeting Jesus the Son of God in the Eucharist.
    • The Eucharist as memorial
    • The sacred events of the Triduum
    • Jesus really and truly present on the altar
    • Jesus’ abiding presence.
  • Meeting God in prayer
    • How to pray
    • Prayer postures

As a Boarding Community we have been able to continue meeting together for Night Prayers, which our Lay Chaplain prepares for the students. These Night Prayers allow us to gather as one and reflect on the Mission of our lives. With the help of the Fr. President, the students have been encouraged to focus on their role within the Church and on their call to holiness.

Since the recent lockdown has been in effect, with many of the international boarders returning home, the focus of these times of worship has shifted. The staff and students alike have been given a variety of self-reflective worksheets to ponder over during the prayer time. We have focused on positive mental well-being and on gaining a better understanding of what our individual vocations might be. Spending time listening to God in quiet reflections and opening our hearts up to his working in our lives.

Night Prayers

  • The Call of Samuel
    • Listening to God’s calling and voice in our lives
  • David and Goliath
    • Overcoming the ‘giants’ in our lives, allowing God to guide us through our struggles.
  • Empathy
    • How do we empathise with those who we do not know?
    • How do become more like Christ, reaching out to those who need us with care, love, and compassion?
  • Jeremiah 29:11
    • Me, and the Life I want to Create – what are my values and my morals? Where do I want my life to go, in what direction?

We have considered these moments of community prayer beneficial as they help develop the prayer life of the staff and students, but more than anything we have looked forward to these times together as moments that bring a certain sense of normality. Our prayer times are moments of peace in our days and allow us to continue to focus of Christ at the centre of our lives.

Glory be to you Lord, whose power working in us can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.  With this in mind, we come into your presence acknowledging our personal, family, national and global needs, and concerns. We entrust our futures, our hopes and our aspirations into your hands that you may lead, guide and protect us. We make this prayer through Christ our Lord.


Fr. Philip Sainter I.C, Fr. President