“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
Before you were born I set you apart.”
Tayo, Jason and Sarah visited St Mary Magdalen’s to share their tragic life experience of losing a beloved family member in tragic circumstances. Tayo, her husband Jason and her Mother, Sarah came to talk about their Christian faith and how they learnt to forgive. Jason was keen to stress their close family unity and that he considered Sarah like his mum.
Sarah lost her fifteen-year-old son Zack (Tayo’s fifteen-year-old brother) in a stabbing outside Zack’s school. Zack was not in a gang- he had a future full of promise.
Jason showed a short film of Zack and his family which showed some very happy memories of the family together. Year Six watched poignant family moments that marked special occasions such as: birthdays, playing football in the park and talking and laughing together as a close family.
One fateful day Zack went to school, but his life was cut short by a gang who stabbed him for no apparent reason.
Sarah spoke about her son and the impact of his death. Tayo and Jason spoke about their struggle to forgive and how their grief impacted on their relationship with their own children. They sought God’s guidance and He gave them to strength to tell others about Zack.
All the family needed help to overcome such an unspeakable act of violence. Five young men were arrested and then imprisoned. This act of violence not only impacted on Zack’s family, but the families of the boys involved in the crime.
Jason explained that God gives us the gift to follow Jesus, and their faith helped them to forgive. God forgives unconditionally, as mortals we can forgive but find it difficult to forget.
Sarah spoke emotionally about how her faith enabled her to forgive. Without faith and forgiveness, the family would have found life even harder. When Sarah was in court she saw that the boys were from decent backgrounds, but she could see how they had hurt themselves, their families, their extended families and their community.
A ripple effect of negativity grew, but Sarah told the pupils about how her belief in Jesus saved her life too. She turned the hate that was inside her into forgiveness. Sarah found the strength to speak to the boys who murdered her son. When the family visit prisons, they have often been told that having the understanding of the impact of knife crime might have prevented such as a crime.
These workshops link very closely to ‘The Year of Mercy’ in our Catholic faith and it is a living example of how one family has used their faith to forgive the loss of their family member. This family is a true example of practicing what we preach with the guidance of God at our side.
These workshops were given to Years 5 and 6 to show them the need to forgive and the serious consequences of knife crime. Every pupil was fully engaged in the discussions and they produced some excellent work through poems, raps and art. All of this work demonstrated the children’s reflections of this family’s story.