Founded on Christian values by the Anglican Order of the Community of St Mary the Virgin in Wantage, St Helen and St Katharine fosters a lively engagement with the Christian faith. Spiritual reflection, intellectual enquiry and tradition play an important role in the life of the School.
Weekly school services
Each year group attends a service in the Chapel once a week. These morning services provide the girls and staff with space for stillness in an otherwise busy day. We sing hymns, pray, hear Bible readings and are uplifted by the outstanding Chapel Choir. Other assemblies take place during the week, which follow the Chapel theme for that week.
All girls and staff are free to use the Chapel during the day to light a candle in memory of a loved one, write a prayer on the prayer board, or just sit and be.
Each term there are Whole School Eucharists and other special services which mark important days in the School and Church calendar; these are led by the Chaplain and Sacristans. Throughout the year, we have visiting speakers and events such as our 2018 Lent Week, which aim to be creative, inspiring and inclusive to those of all faiths and none, within the context of the Christian tradition.
Informal groups in each year group meet during the week to explore what it means to be a Christian in the 21st century, through courses such as Youth Alpha and 24/7 prayer. Other small groups of girls pray for the world using the creative prayer spaces in Chapel or debate and discuss the big questions of life in a respectful environment.
Tea Concerts and other musical events take place regularly in the Chapel; it is a welcoming and atmospheric space in which to perform.
Sacristans are girls in the Upper Sixth with responsibility for making Chapel a welcoming place, and the services engaging for all. They aim to be listeners and encouragers of younger girls in the school.
Confirmation classes take place during the Lent term for any girl or member of staff who wishes to be baptised or confirmed at the start of the Trinity term.
A parents’ prayer group meets regularly to support the life of the School and Chaplaincy and there are Staff Prayers each week.
Composed of students in Year 9 – Upper Sixth, the Chapel Choir leads the school in weekly services, termly Eucharists and special occasions such as Nine Lessons and Carols at Christmas and the Confirmation service. The choir also performs in school concerts, the Oxford Music Festival and has taken part in tours abroad and featured on CD recordings, available from the Music Department.
The Reverend Elizabeth Birch works alongside the Senior Leadership team in enabling the pastoral care of the whole school community.
Elizabeth can be contacted by email here.