St Mary’s School, Cambridge celebrated Mary Ward Day – marking the birthday of the school’s foundress Mary Ward (1585-1645) – on Tuesday 23 January and welcomed the Rt Rev Alan Hopes, Bishop of East Anglia, to join this year’s celebrations.
The Bishop spent time with the school’s Mary Ward scholars and students championing CAFOD’s Power To Be campaign through its Young Leaders Programme; visited Junior School, Senior School and Sixth Form students in lessons; and celebrated Mass at the Senior School in honour of the school’s founder, in which he called for students to be, like Mary Ward, “counter cultural”.
Bishop Alan encouraged the congregation: “In a society which tells us that the only things that matter are wealth and power and fame – be counter cultural! In spite of all the challenges and difficulties that will come our way, your vision is worth pursuing to transform a world which has lost its way in many areas – be counter cultural! Make a difference to people’s lives in your choice of vocation and especially to the poor, the homeless, trafficked men and women, migrants and refugees – be counter cultural!”
Ms Charlotte Avery, Headmistress, concluding the Mass, said: “Thank you to Bishop Alan for joining us today to mark our foundress’ birthday, and for sharing such a clear and captivating call to arms. Of course, we honour Mary Ward through the year and the Bishop’s message to be counter cultural is something we strive to live out every day in our school, for the greater benefit of the wider community.”
The school regularly focuses on, celebrates, and nurtures in its students a number of ‘characteristics’ associated with Mary Ward – such as ‘Encouraging hard work and excellence’, ‘Respecting self’ and ‘Valuing women’s role and spirituality’. On Tuesday afternoon, groups of Year 7, Year 8 and Year 9 students performed a number of sketches as part of a Witty and Wonderful Mary Ward Show. Each sketch focused on one Mary Ward characteristic, including ‘Embracing diversity’, ‘Valuing friendship’, ‘Eliminating injustice’, and ‘Coping effectively with failure’.
Ms Avery said: “Thank you to our Head of Religious Life, Mr Daniel Bennett, for organising such a fun and forward looking celebration, and to staff members and students across the school for their musical and theatrical contributions, readings in Mass, and preparation of food and fun for many form ‘birthday parties’. This year has been another superb celebration of our foundress – her vision to educate women, her perseverance against resistance, and her attitude of being counter cultural. As we commence the school’s 120th year, we look forward to the next 120 years of developing counter cultural young adults.”
St Mary’s School, Cambridge