Principal’s Message: Term 1, Week 4, 2024

Dear families and friends of St Edmund’s College,

2024 Scriptural Theme: “I have come so may have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10)

Thursday 8 February was one of those rare days in a school where all things align beautifully to create meaningful, memorable and successful events. Schools very often talk about their “spirit,” but that spirit is sometimes elusive in the hustle of everyday school life. We experienced that sense of spirit and community in a very tangible and powerful way.

Our beautiful Opening Mass was a very fitting and poignant formal opening to the school year. The Opening Mass plays a crucial role in fostering a sense of community, spiritual grounding, and shared purpose within St Edmund’s College. It contributes to creating a positive and supportive school environment, built upon the core foundation of the College. The emotion surrounding the student leaders’ induction was quite palpable, and the musicians and choir added greatly to the sacredness of the Mass.  Our students performed in an outstanding manner under the direction of our Performing Arts staff. My thanks to Fr Chris Eaton for celebrating the Mass with us. The Opening Mass served as out first official function to commence our 70th Anniversary celebrations, with every student and member of staff being given a special 70th Anniversary badge to wear for the year.

The Mass was followed by an afternoon of activities, further fostering a sense of unity and camaraderie amongst our boys.

We had our new families join us that afternoon for their welcome function, where they had the opportunity to mingle amongst our staff whilst enjoying some fine hospitality. This proved to be a resounding success, marked by the presence of numerous new families who shared positive feedback about their sons’ transition to the school. My thanks to members of staff who attended this function and made the newest members of our community feel welcome.

The day culminated with our community picnic, another event to mark our 70th Anniversary. This was a great success and surpassed all expectations.  We had no idea how successful this would be as it was the first time we had organised such an event.  We were all pleasantly surprised by the large number of families who attended the picnic.  There was a lovely atmosphere, and the weather was superb for a picnic afternoon/evening. Again, the feeling of community spirit here was very strong and unmistakable. Families and staff enjoyed their time on Owens Oval, listening to the music of our student musicians and partaking of their own picnic supplies or making use of the food vans or barbeque. Hopefully this will become an annual event. My most heartfelt thanks to the families who joined us for this event.

The events of Thursday 8 February served as a testament to the vibrancy, strength, and unwavering support of our community, leaving us all filled with pride.

Congratulations to Harrison Bond (Year 10, Clancy) who performed in the Tamworth Music Country Music Festival, held at the “Country Rocks the Park” show in late January. Well done Harrison – what an opportunity and experience for such a talented young man. Harrison also shone with his vocals during our Opening Mass.

Congratulations to Samuel Mitchell (Year 7, Clancy) on his nomination for a major cake industry award – Rising Star of the Year, in the 2024 Australasian Cake Oscar Awards. This is a great achievement and testament to Samuel’s wonderful ski and talent in this area. Hopefully we will continue to see more great creations from Samuel.

Parent Code of Conduct
St Edmund’s College comprises a wide variety of individuals who work together to educate our students to become confident, well-educated members of the community who are prepared to contribute as citizens, to cooperate with others and act reflectively and ethically. Our shared values and an understanding of acceptable behaviours enable the St Edmund’s College community to work together with respect and appreciation for each other.

At St Edmund’s College we recognise our legal obligation to ensure the ongoing health and safety of students, staff, and families within our community. We encourage parents and carers to support our educational environment that exemplifies our Edmund Rice Tradition, encouraging our students to grow into the fullness of their humanity where they feel welcomed, accepted and valued.

St Edmund’s College fulfils its mission in partnership with parents and carers who are the first educators of their children. We recognise that parents and carers are valuable participants in our community and we want to work in partnership with parents and carers to provide and support the safe and positive education and care of students.

The Parent and Carer Code of Conduct sets out the way the College expects parents and carers to conduct themselves in their interaction with all members of the College community including but not limited to all staff, students, other parents and carers and volunteers.

It is a requirement that all St Edmund’s College families adhere to principles and practices as outlined in the College’s Enrolment Policy and Conditions of Enrolment, as signed by parents.  The Parent And Care Code of Conduct can be found by clicking here.

We held two very special Ash Wednesday liturgies on Wednesday 14 February (in the Chapel for our Junior School and in the Hall for our high school students). Ash Wednesday is a solemn day for Christians, marking the beginning of a period of reflection, repentance, and spiritual preparation for Easter through practices such as fasting, prayer, and acts of charity. On Ash Wednesday, Christians attend church services where they receive ashes on their foreheads in the shape of a cross. These ashes are typically made by burning palm branches from the previous year’s Palm Sunday celebrations. The ashes received on this day serve as a visible symbol of mortality, repentance, and the desire for spiritual renewal. As part of the high school liturgy led by our chaplain Fr Chris Eaton, our senior student leaders distributed the ashes to their peers.

The First Sunday of Lent marks the beginning of the Lenten season in the Christian liturgical calendar. This sacred time of reflection and preparation extends for forty days, leading up to Easter. The Lenten journey is a time of personal and spiritual growth. It provides an opportunity for believers to reflect on their lives, examine their hearts, and make meaningful changes. Through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, individuals are encouraged to confront their weaknesses, seek forgiveness, and develop virtues that bring them closer to God.

The Gospel Reading from last Sunday commences with this paragraph, “The Spirit drove Jesus out into the wilderness, and he remained there for forty days, and was tempted by Satan.  He was with the wild beasts, and the angels looked after him.”

What strikes me in this paragraph is that the Spirit “drove” Jesus out into the wilderness – this was not just a mild suggestion or a gentle encouragement. The word “drove” is quite an active word, with connotations of force. It was important for Jesus to go into the desert for his forty days of reflection and preparation of his ministry. He needed to remove himself from the distractions of daily life, in order to approach his ministry with a strong sense of clarity, vision and purpose.

Every Lent, the same Holy Spirit who drove Jesus into the desert wants to drive us into our own desert in order to renew and deepen our relationship with God. While God is not calling us all physically to go to the desert, he is calling us to remove ourselves from the distractions of life, so that in doing so, we can clearly hear and see him.

One of the central themes of Lent is prayer. Through prayer, believers can connect with God, seek His guidance, and find solace and strength during the Lenten journey. It is a time to listen to His voice, reflect on His teachings, and cultivate a deeper intimacy with Him.

Fasting is another important practice during Lent. By abstaining from certain foods or activities, believers exercise self-discipline and sacrifice. It is an opportunity to deny oneself and create space for God’s presence in their lives.  Fasting is not the simple act of giving up chocolate or coffee or alcohol, and then boasting about this so-called sacrifice to your friends or on social media – it is not abstaining from some foods just for the sake of it. Fasting serves as a reminder of Jesus’ forty days of fasting in the wilderness and helps individuals focus their attention on spiritual matters.

Almsgiving, the act of giving to those in need, is a fundamental aspect of Lent. It reflects God’s love and compassion for others and reminds believers of their call to serve and care for their neighbours. By engaging in acts of charity and generosity, believers embody the spirit of Christ, demonstrating their commitment to selflessness and compassion. Here at St Edmund’s, our focus on almsgiving will be within the context of Caritas Australia, the Catholic Church’s international aid and development agency in Australia. Caritas is committed to working alongside the most vulnerable and addressing the imbalance of power by including the people affected in the decisions impacting their lives.

Embracing the Lenten journey entails committing oneself to these themes and practices that define this sacred season. Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving provide a framework for believers to deepen their faith, cultivate discipline, and live out the teachings of Jesus. By embracing these practices, individuals can experience personal transformation, drawing closer to God and becoming vessels of His love and grace.

Prayer for the First Sunday of Lent
Loving God,
You who breathed the spirit of life within me,
kindle within me the light and life you created.
Help me to strengthen my path to you.
Help me to use my life to illuminate your glory
and to serve others
as your Son Jesus did.

Blessed Edmund Rice, pray for us.
Live Jesus in our Hearts, forever.

Joe Zavone
Christus Lux Mea