Year 5 pupils from St Jospeh’s school in Birtley had a rare treat recently when they visited Minsteracres as part of their religious studies.

The visit was the idea of class teacher Katie Mooney. “We were looking at the topic of Lent and how to prepare for Easter. I thought, well other classes have field trips, why not RE? Even other teachers at school said they’d never thought of an RE trip.”

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Katie is a parishioner at St Elizabeth’s at Minsteracres, so for her it was an obvious place to come, “RE can be a difficult subject for children this age, but Minsteracres is a lovely place to visit and to see the countryside. As Fr Mark said to them, ‘look out of the window and you can see God’s love’. “

Using Jesus’ temptation in the desert, Sr Therese made a real connection with the 9 and 10 year olds, asking them first to imagine Jesus as their age, then see him sitting alongside them, experiencing the temptations they faced and growing up with them as they grew.

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“Sister Therese told us to close our eyes and imagine Jesus was a little boy sitting beside us. She asked us to meditate and told us this was a type of prayer. I had never prayed like this before,” saidHannah, one of the class.

Fr Mark led mass in the chapel accompanied by Deacon Peter Lowry from Birtley parish, and after lunch the children helped two of Minsteracres’ conservation team to plant 120 trees. “I loved planting the trees. I’d like to go back and see how big they have grown,” said classmate Elias.

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“The place is so peaceful and relaxing even the children felt it, and they loved the journey – they felt it was the middle of nowhere,” said Katie.

Pupil Anyia agreed, “Minsteracres is a beautiful place I really enjoyed our trip. It was so peaceful!”