Setting Young Hearts on Fire

A new and exciting modular programme has been launched in Boscombe to help post-Holy Communion children, in school years 4-6, discover how to grow closer to God by deepening their relationship and friendship with Him and others. The programme has been created by the Hearts on Fire Ignatian Spirituality Team on the South Coast, in conjunction with the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart. The pilot programme was launched in Corpus Christi Boscombe and local parishes with the support of parents.

The initiative is based on Ignatian Spirituality which is about “finding God in all things” and everybody; in the natural world and in our relationships and our interactions with them. The aim of this programme is to help children develop the understanding and skills to see and discover for themselves how God is in and at work in all things.

Listening was the theme of the first module - listening to each other and to God. This module ran over a 6-week period as an after-school activity for small groups of up to 8/10 children, accompanied by adults and older teenage helpers. Sessions began with games, singing and sharing the highlights of the day (good, bad and funny), followed by our opening prayer. This had been written by one of our teenage helpers. Themed activities followed, often in pairs and small groups, to help the children develop their listening skills when interacting with others, listening to the Word of God and praying. The children particularly enjoyed the Woodland Walk and the Imaginative prayer sessions. These activities were then followed by a time of reflection and sharing in the group, before finishing the session with a time of prayer. Here the children experienced the Ignatian Examen - a way of prayerfully reflecting on the events of your day and thinking about where God was in it.

Feedback at the end of the module, which was celebrated with praying through art and craft activities and a tea party, was very positive from both children and parents alike. Michelle Ellison, parishioner at Corpus Christi Boscombe, said "the children really felt they had learnt a lot about listening and said how much they had enjoyed the activities and being part of these groups."

The second 6-week module has just begun and it focuses on Seeing Anew.

If you are interested in finding out more about this programme for either your own child, to become a volunteer helper or with a view to setting up this programme in your area, do contact a member of the Young Hearts on Fire Team at heartsonfireyoung@gmail.com