A sense of ceremony

I attended a beautiful Mass at St Mary’s Roman Catholic Primary School this morning. The event was held to celebrate the closure of the school building before it is demolished to make way for the new school which will be built over the next 15 months.

I’m neither Catholic nor religious but I was very taken by the ceremony and sense of community which was engendered this morning.

It made me think that we don’t pay enough attention to ceremony in our modern lives – I certainly haven’t read anything about the role of ceremony in any recent management books I’ve come across. Nor is there a performance indicator which measures the effective use of ceremony. Nevertheless, I think there is something about us as a species which likes the comfort and rhythm of a well conducted ceremonial occasion. It certainly acts to bind people together in an act of common purpose – a feature of life which is all too conspicuous by its absence.

2 thoughts on “A sense of ceremony

  1. I think your right about ceremony – they do link people together and provide an opportunity to celebrate and be reminded about common purpose. The formality of most ceremonies along with recurring features also gives an opportunity for audiences to remain focused even though the main content of a ceremony can differ from occasion to occasion.

    Have you read much about KIPP Schools? Popular in the US and a very interesting school model where routine, shared vision, celebration of achievement and ceremony (not necessarily religious) all form part of the core running and values of the school.

    There is a good introduction to KIPP schools in the film “Waiting for Superman” – which if you have not seen I think you would enjoy. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waiting_for_%22Superman%22

  2. Oh Don, you’ve missed out on something very special then. I’ve been leading Quiet Assemblies for years now. They started off as an attempt to create ‘something akin to worship’ and are inclusive of all faiths and none, being based on emotional support and spiritual reflection. In our frenzied, busy schools, it’s been so valuable to show children the power of quietness to restore and reflect. Incredibly, children love these monthly gatherings and staff can often find them very moving. Come and ask Campie kids. I started Quiet Assemblies after hearing the formidable theologian from New College, Elizabeth Templeton, address a seminar. I’ll dig out her musings and send them to you.

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