Spirituality and Catholic Life

The spirituality of Notre Dame Plymouth is firmly rooted in the Catholic tradition of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, a religious order of nuns who founded and support the school to this day. The school is one of two Roman Catholic secondary schools in our multi school academy trust CAST and is overseen by Bishop Mark O’Toole the Bishop of Plymouth and the Catholic Diocese of Plymouth.

The Mission of Sisters of Notre Dame
The Mission of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur is to make known God’s goodness and educate for life. The founding aims are:

  • To make known God’s goodness and love of the poor through a Gospel way of life, community and prayer.
  • To stand with poor people, especially women and children, in the most abandoned places.
  • To work with others to create justice and peace
From the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur Constitutions (1989): Our Spirituality is a simple but profound belief that God is so very good. We share in an absolute trust in God’s active presence in all of life. We seek to follow the way of simplicity, obedience and charity that St. Julie set forth for us. As a community, we share our resources and talents. Together we respond to local and world needs, especially the needs of poor women and children. We are united by a common vision of the Gospel and a common call to follow Jesus. As Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, Mary also holds a special place in our heart. In the words of St. Julie, we strive to grow “in the spirit of Mary, the virtue of Mary, the strength and power of Mary.” We strive to be women of prayer – both personal and communal. Prayer is the essence of our lives. It fosters and enriches our life of faith and mission. We reach out in support and companionship to others on their faith journey.
Prayer Life and Worship

Pope Francis: “He does not need anything, our God: in prayer he asks only that we keep open a channel of communication with him to always discover ourselves [to be] his beloved children and [that] he loves us so much.”

Each week we have a special theme based on Sunday’s Gospel which inspires our prayer life. At the start of each day, our students gather in their tutor period or assembly to pray together.

We pray at the start of any meeting that we have. This helps us to focus on putting Jesus’ example and teachings at the centre of everything we do.

We celebrate Mass together as a whole school community at the start and end of the year and have a special liturgy to mark Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent. Any Holy days of obligation that fall in term time are also celebrated in school, ie All Saints Day.

We have a great history of hosting Christmas concerts and musical liturgies that mark important dates and feasts within the Church calendar and many of which are open to our parents and wider community.

Once every four years we undertake a whole school Mission, where we break down the school curriculum for 5 school days and we re-evaluate our faith life through worship, prayer, the sacrament of reconciliation, music, drama, arts, and the celebration of a school Mass. This gives every single one of our students the opportunity to be involved in Mission at some point in their school life.

John 10:10 “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full”

Our Chaplaincy is the heartbeat of our school. It brings to life our Mission and Ethos in all aspects of the school and supports everyone in our community to live ‘life to the full’.

We are very lucky to have our Chapel at the heart of the school. It has beautiful stained glass windows and a wonderful altar which stands below the most beautiful statue of the Risen Christ. Students and Staff have prayed here in our Chapel since 1966, making it a very special place to find a moment of stillness and contemplation.

At Notre Dame Plymouth we have an established group of Young Spiritual Leaders (YSL) who act as Youth Chaplains and support the Chaplaincy staff in the day to day running of the faith life of the school. There is a very wide variety of activities that students can get involved in from planning and leading liturgies to organising large and small scale charity events. Whatever your interests and skills we will help find ways for you to play an active role in our community using your ‘Head, Heart and Hands.”

The Chaplaincy Team supports the spiritual development of the school community in a variety of ways. We produce a wide range of resources to support the prayer and worship life of our community. We lead annual training for staff in how to support the ethos of the school and offer a ‘Working in Catholic Education’ induction for staff new staff who come to work in our school.

Our Chaplaincy team are made up of Mrs White Headteacher, Mrs Casey Deputy Headteacher, Mrs Bonard Lay Chaplain, Fr Oscar Ardila and the YSLs who, following a recruitment and training process, are inducted into the service of Youth Chaplaincy for the duration of their time at Notre Dame.
The Catholic Diocese of Plymouth

The foundation of our Catholic schools is our primary mission, that each child should be able to encounter the living God, who in Jesus Christ reveals his transforming love and truth. This mission rests on three interdependent objectives: to provide an environment in which children are enabled to build and deepen their relationship with God; to foster a rigorous academic culture aimed at the pursuit of truth; and to actively promote the development and growth of virtue in each child.

– Bishop Mark O’Toole.

Diocesan Vision Statement
  • A Celebrating Church – Expressing what we believe in our worship, engaging with the gift of liturgy, and allowing ourselves to be renewed in it
  • A Caring Church – Seeking to understand the sufferings of those around us, reaching out and being Christ to one another, and serving the world
  • A Learning Church – Deepening our understanding of our faith, humbling ourselves to learn from Our Lord and each other, and discovering our true nature as the Body of Christ
  • A Living Church – Empowering all around us with the presence and joy of the Holy Spirit, proclaiming Christ to the world, and being faithful to our mission
“The Spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for he has anointed me. He has sent me to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and to the blind new sight, to set the downtrodden free, to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour” Luke 4: 8-19

The Church provides Catholic schools to:
  • Be a service to society. To serve the human person and society and enable them to develop an understanding of their communal obligations, personal aspirations and role as citizens in society and the world.
  • Assist in its mission of making Christ known to all people
  • Assist parents , who are the primary educators of their children, in the education and religious formation of their children
  • Be at the service of the local church – the diocese, the parish and the Christian home
  • As a school we make the most of opportunities to promote these values and Catholic Social Teaching (CST) within our policies, our curriculum and within whole school activities.

Our Catholic ethos provides both a depth of opportunity and a responsibility to prepare young people for life in modern Britain, to reject extremism and to promote tolerance among all communities, faiths and beliefs. For more information see the link for the Catholic Education Service.

Plymouth CAST: www.plymouthcast.org.uk

Diocese of Plymouth: https://www.plymouth-diocese.org.uk

Catholic Education Service: https://www.catholiceducation.org.uk

Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur: https://www.snduk.org