Many communities and organisations, including St Edmund’s College, celebrated and acknowledged Harmony Day yesterday. This day commenced in 1999 in Australia and is now celebrated in many countries around the world. Two key values that are the focus of the day are Respect and Inclusion.
The identity and culture of schools in the Edmund Rice Tradition are articulated through four Touchstones which are described in the Edmund Rice Education Australia (EREA) Charter. The four Touchstones are: Liberating Education, Gospel Spirituality, Inclusive Community and Justice and Solidarity
It seems fitting this week to reflect on our Touchstone – Inclusive Community. This Touchstone asks that ‘Our Community is accepting and welcoming, fostering right relationships and commitment to the common good’. Although we are not perfect, I believe that this is one of the strengths of our College community. We have a very rich and diverse community, and in general, we live in harmony with respect and inclusion.
The EREA Charter challenges us to be an inclusive community by welcoming and valuing all members of the community regardless of religion, race, disability, gender, sexual orientation or economic situation. More specifically, this also means that the College:
- provides pastoral care that nurtures the dignity of each person,
- demonstrates a preferential option for the poor by standing in solidarity with those who are powerless and marginalised,
- promotes social inclusion and views diversity as beneficial to a liberating education,
- acknowledges the traditional ownership and cultural heritage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Australia, and welcomes them into its community, and
- works in partnership with the local Catholic community and Church in serving the broader mission of the whole Church.
The College embraces its diverse cultures and has had many success stories with regard to inclusion. We should; however, always reflect on how we can do better, and in this circumstance, we should continue to ask ourselves these reflective questions from our Charter.
How can we continue to seek ways of inviting every person to the table?
Does our day-to-day operations meet the diverse needs of all of our community members?
How do we overcome the challenges that prevent us being ‘open to all’.
Sometimes our mission can seem broad and complicated; however, in this case our mission as members of the College community may be able to be simplified. As a proud Catholic school, we aspire to follow the example of Jesus, as stated in John (15:12) ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you’.
I would ask parents and carers to do two things this week. Firstly, talk to your son/s about how they feel at school – do they feel welcome, respected and valued. Secondly, if they do not feel welcome, respected and valued, I invite you to make contact with me to make a time to have a conversation about this. We need to continue to work on this important aspect of our work. As mentioned above, I believe inclusion is a strength of the College, but there is always room for improvement.
Prayer for Inclusion
(Andrew M. Greeley Centre for Catholic Education)
Lord, give us new strength so that we can build places of belonging.
To create a community for all to share their gifts,
To know that each of us is loved,
To help us to see the light of Christ in all that we serve.
Let us remember that each of us is loved, each of us is willed, and each of us is necessary.
May we balance mercy and justice so that we can achieve equity and access for all of Your children.
We do this in Your name.
Blessed Edmund Rice Pray for Us
Live Jesus in Our Hearts Forever
Christus Lux Mea