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The Peer Ministry Programme

Peer MinistersPEER MINISTRY PROGRAMME

ORIGINS

Peer Ministry has blossomed from the tiny seeds that were sown in one 5th Year class in 1983. Arrangements were made to allow groups of six 5th Year students into 1st Year R.E. classes to present a topic the 5th Years had prepared in advance. Their presentation had to have a religious theme, it took place over a few weeks and then the school year came to an end. But the 5th Years and 1st Years loved it and so Peer Ministry began. The following year the new 5th Year students wanted the chance to do the same. The year after that, Peer Ministry became an important part of school life in St. Louis and has been so ever since.

VISION OF PEER MINISTRY

Peer Ministry has one "Commandment". Jesus said, "This is my COMMAND, that you love one another." This is Jesus' gospel message of "AGAPE", GOOD WILL. Every student selected for Peer Ministry is called to show that good will in all aspects of her interaction with her 1st Year class. The Peer Ministry Programme is an integral aspect of the pastoral care system in our school. It is an opportunity for 5th Year students to share their gifts and talents with new 1st Year students in a spirit of respect, good will and friendship.

AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF PEER MINISTRY

  • To be part of the 1st and 5th Year Religious Education programme in school.
  • To be a popular programme of great benefit to both 1st and 5th Years.
  • To ease the transition into secondary school for 1st Years and to be a vital aspect of the school's pastoral care system.
  • To provide an opportunity for young people to share their gifts and talents with other young people in an atmosphere of good will, co-operation, creativity and enthusiasm.
  • To develop valuable skills and learning experiences for both 1st Years and 5th Years from the preparation and delivery of their classes and from participation in the programme.
  • To help 1st Years in getting to know one another better and to enhance their world of secondary education by the special friendships that are often formed with their Peer Ministers.

THE PEER MINISTRY PROGRAMME

SEPTEMBER TO OCTOBER
APPLICATION AND SELECTION
The programme is open to all 5th Years who have an interest in working with and journeying with young people in school. An invitation is issued in September and letters of application are received and read by the co-ordinator. Members of staff select Peer Ministers. There are only two questions to consider:
1. Who would be good for Peer Ministry?
2. Who would Peer Ministry be good for?

PEER MINISTRY TRAINING DAY
Approximately twenty-four successful candidates participate in a Peer Ministry Training Day directed by the co-ordinator and 6th Years who have completed the programme. After the Training Day PMs meet every week with the co-ordinator who presents every class and provides resources for the PMs to use in their first and all subsequent classes. A specially devised programme of work is presented to 1st Years throughout the year.

DECEMBER
CHRISTMAS TAIZE LITURGY
Rehearsals for the Christmas liturgy begin in November. The co-ordinator writes the dramatic presentation and then the PMs bring it to life using choral speaking, drama, dance and song. Every single 1st Year has a part to play. In PM, no one is ever left out. By Christmas, 1st Years wait in excited anticipation to show the whole school what they have prepared while their Peer Ministers watch on with pride.

JANUARY TO MARCH
Classes continue, poster display work is completed, bonds grow stronger and friendships develop.

APRIL TO MAY
Preparations and rehearsals begin for the Peer Ministry Presentation Evening. PMs write their own scripts and present a glimpse into the world of Peer Ministry for the families who are invited into school to witness the effort, fun, joy and learning that Peer Ministry brings to the world of 1st Years. Certificates of achievement are presented to 5th Years on the completion of the programme.

SUPPORT
The co-ordinator is available to deal with anything that requires immediate or urgent attention. Peer Ministers also know to contact the RE teacher of the class, the class teacher, the Year Head, the school counsellor, or any member of staff, if and when necessary.

EVALUATION
The Training Day is evaluated when completed. Every week PMs have the opportunity to discuss what went well in class or what they might need to do about a difficulty they may have encountered. In February, they evaluate their own progress and take action to remedy any problems that might have arisen from the evaluation. They are also invited to do a similar evaluation with their own classes. Peer Ministry is evaluated by the 1st Years at the end of every school year and the responses always reflect its resounding success. The 1st Year evaluation is used as part of the Training Day. Perhaps one of the simplest and best ways to capture what Peer Ministry is about, comes straight from a 1st Year who wrote in her evaluation, "I loved Peer Ministry. It's like having six big sisters – without the fighting!"

Monica O'Kane
Peer Ministry Co-ordinator

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