As a Cathedral School, King's Rochester has an active Chaplaincy across the Pre-Preparatory, Preparatory and Senior Schools. We are privileged that our pupils are able to use Rochester Cathedral as the school chapel thoughout the week.
The Chaplain is an ordained priest in the Church of England and oversees the spiritual life of the school, co-ordinating daily acts of worship as well as the more significant celebrations that are held throughout the year. The close links with the Cathedral mean that King’s pupils are able to use the Cathedral as their chapel during the week, and on certain occasions at the weekend. The School traces its origins back to the original consecration of the cathedral in 604AD before the present building was initiated by Bishop Gundulf in 1080. The re-foundation of the school that took place under Henry VIIIth in 1541 followed a turbulent time for the life of the Cathedral, as Saint Andrew’s Priory was dissolved and King’s School began.
The rich history of both institutions are therefore very much linked, and pupils benefit from the close relationship of Cathedral and School on a daily basis. Services in the Cathedral encourage pupils and staff to take time out of the busy day to think, pray and worship in this awe-inspiring setting.
The Chaplaincy team consists of the full-time Chaplain, the Rev’d Stephen Padfield, who teaches in the Senior school, is a Priest-Vicar of the Cathedral, and a member of the pastoral and safeguarding team. The school also has a Christian Union run by Mrs Emma Parren.
Our weekly routine involves the Senior school meeting for a main service on a Monday morning, alternating Matins with the Eucharist, and the Preparatory school doing the same on Tuesday mornings. On Thursday and Friday mornings, the Senior school holds a shorter Morning Prayer service where staff and students volunteer to offer a thought-for-the-day reflection. Services are supported by the Chapel Prefect and Head Server.
In addition to the weekly service pattern, Scholars and Boarders attend six King’s Sundays a year when we join with the local Cathedral congregation. In addition, we hold our Commemoration service early in September, Remembrance services in November, Carol services in December, Ash Wednesday and Holy week services in the Lent term, and Easter and End of Year celebrations with Speech Days in the Mid-Summer term. Every other year we hold a Confirmation service, where members of the Senior and Preparatory schools can choose to be confirmed. This is taken by the Bishop of Rochester or the Bishop of Tonbridge.
As a Christian foundation, the school takes its historic traditions seriously as well as acknowledging the importance of faith and spirituality in the twenty-first century. Pupils come from various faith and no-faith backgrounds, but all are encouraged to find their own spirituality and inner life through the Christian based services which bring the various schools together. The open religious tradition of School and Cathedral honours individual expressions of faith and reason, and seeks to inspire and challenge pupils to think about important religious, ethical, moral and philosophical ideas. The ethos of the school is underpinned by its association to the Woodard Corporation of Schools. The emphasis of the Woodard Corporation upon the gathered eucharistic community, is one that encourages us to meet in the Cathedral as a unified and spiritual body, sharing the joys and sorrows of life, through the liturgy of the Anglican church.
Services are enhanced through pupil involvement which include a team of servers, King’s scholars, readers, prefects and school choirs. Pupils are encouraged to receive communion during a Eucharist if it be their practice, or to consider coming up for a blessing. They are also encouraged to light candles and to remember others in their thoughts and prayers. There is plenty of opportunity for participation for those who wish, including the writing of prayer cards, ashing on Ash Wednesday, the lighting of candles, the washing of hands or feet, being anointed with healing oil, as well as being confirmed or baptised. The Chaplaincy is also sensitive to those of other faiths, and operates an inclusive policy to encourage those of others faiths to express themselves and join in with the services.
The Chaplain is an important part of the pastoral network offered to pupils, staff and parents, and is available to help support pupils who may be facing particular difficulties. The Chaplain is a member of the safeguarding team, both for the school and the cathedral.
You can contact the School Chaplain by emailing him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.