Principal’s Message: Term 4, Week 5, 2019

Principal’s Message: Term 4, Week 5, 2019

To the friends and families of the St Edmund’s community,

Vibrant Spirit.  Strong Character.  Tailored Learning

In August of this year, Pope Francis met with a number of leaders of other religions and made some significant statements about of interreligious dialogue.  The Pope talked about the importance of promoting interreligious dialogue and understanding. “Although sadly evil, hatred and division often make news,” the Pope said, “there is a hidden sea of goodness that is growing and leads us to hope in dialogue, reciprocal knowledge and the possibility of building, together with the followers of other religions and all men and women of goodwill, a world of fraternity and peace.”

In the spirit of promoting and celebrating interreligious dialogue, St Edmund’s College has initiated an informal partnership with the Islamic School of Canberra. The nature of this partnership will take a number of forms. This year, the nature of the partnership will be in the form of an athletics carnival run for the Islamic School on our ovals as well as an interfaith dinner being held in the Edmund Rice Centre this coming Friday. The athletics carnival was held last Friday and was an extremely successful day.  The Islamic School bussed all of its students to our grounds and they enjoyed a great day of organised, physical activities (the Islamic School has very limited facilities).  I would like to thank Mr Joel Richardson, our Head of HPE, for organising the day, assisted by Ms Klara Manenica and Mr Alex Hausen as well as a number of our Year 11 and 12 students and a small group of senior students from St Clare’s College.  Our senior students were outstanding in their leadership and initiative throughout the day.  The students and teachers of the Islamic School had an “amazing time” and are very keen to continue this event in the years to come. I am very much looking forward to our interfaith dinner on Friday evening and will share the details of this event in next week’s Vortex.

Unfortunately, the last time we had a Muslim guest speaker at the College we received a number of negative emails from people outside of the College community who expressed derogatory and disgusting comments about Islam.  These people labelled themselves as “concerned Catholics”.  We will continue our interreligious journey despite these ignorant and intolerant comments and hope to widen the scope of our interreligious dialogue beyond Islam in the coming years.

This week is the final week of lessons for our Year 12 students.  Whilst we have a great Graduation Day prepared for Year 12 on Friday 29 November, this week sees Year 12 students undergo a series of rituals forming an important rite of passage in their final week.   The rite of passage will allow our students to farewell their community and be farewelled in a respectful, organised and dignified manner, leading to a better sense of acceptance of their transition from school to their next stage of life.  My thanks to Mr Michael Monagle (Assistant Principal, Mission & Identity) and Ms Leanne Gair (Assistant Principal, Student Wellbeing) for facilitating the event of the week. The rituals and events which constitute the rite of passage include:

  • Monday – Old Boys BBQ Breakfast, acknowledging the transition of Year 12 students to old boys. Many thanks to Rod Skvorc from the Old Boys and Friends Association for meeting with our Year 12 students.
  • Tuesday – Year 12 and Year 4 combined afternoon activities symbolising our oldest students farewelling our youngest students.
  • Wednesday – St Edmund’s and St Clare’s combined Year 12 lunch symbolising the end of the official collaboration between this cohort of Year 12 students from the two colleges.
  • Thursday – Liturgy and Affirmation activity with Year 12 students affirming each other and acknowledging their unique gifts and contributions.
  • Friday – House Farewells with each House, tutors and Heads of House farewelling Year 12 students, symbolising the significant role and journey Year 12 students have played in their houses since they commenced at the College.

Next week Year 12 and Year 11 students commence their examinations with our younger students commencing their examinations the following week. We are a very busy College with a great number of co-curricular activities organised throughout the year consuming much of our time, but above all of this sits our academic program. I urge all of our students to enter their examination preparation time in a serious manner, ensuring that they are studying appropriately by having a planned study routine, good study notes and an appropriate study place. All students should always remember that they should feel confident to approach their teachers for clarification and advice during their study period.

Last Friday saw the Old Boys and Friends Association hold its annual Golf Day.  The event was very well attended and from what I hear there was a strong, positive community atmosphere (as there always is with events organised by the Old Boys and Friends Association.  My thanks to Matt De Jongh (President) and members of the committee for their great support of the College community and thanks to the many members of the community who attended the event in support of the College.

It is always heart-warming and encouraging to receive compliments about our students from members of the public. Our Assistant Principal, Junior School, Mr David Kelly, sent me this message earlier in the week and I would like to share it with you.   “Good morning Mr Kelly.  I wanted to pass on a ‘well done’ to two of your students. Declan and Mose, who are Year 5 students at St Edmund’s, travelled on the tram with me this morning.  Both young gentlemen stood to give me a seat.  This doesn’t happen often as most of the children sit while adults stand.  I complimented them when we left the tram but felt it was important for the school to know.  Children and the schools are often criticised these days but I feel it is important to ensure the compliments are passed through as well.  These two young gentlemen are an example that manners are still around.  Please pass on my thanks again to Declan and Mose.  Also, as I left them Declan turned and wished me a nice day”.  Congratulations and thank you to Declan McCann and Mose Taiatini of Year 5 for their outstanding representation of the College and demonstrating their vibrant spirit and strong character.

Yesterday we held the Annual Kath Durie Scholarship Recital. Three students performed magnificently. John Larkin on flute (Year 12, Haydon), Tim Brunton on guitar (Year 12, Clancy) and Max Vrancic on clarinet (Year 10, Clancy) demonstrated their outstanding and sophisticated musical talents. The competition was judged by Ian McLean an extremely talented musician, veteran of musical theatre in Canberra and former Director of Music for the Australian Army. Congratulations to John Larkin who was awarded the Kath Durie Scholarship this year.  Many thanks to Mrs Margaret Thomas from our Music department who facilitated the Scholarship program.

Congratulations to old boy Lewis Holland, captain of the Australian Sevens Rugby team, for ensuring his team qualified for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.  Lewis led his team to victory in the recent Oceania Rugby Sevens Championships.  We wish Lewis and his teammates all the very best as they now prepare for their Olympic adventure

It was heartbreaking to see our fellow Australians suffer significant loss and tragedy as a result of the catastrophic bushfires in NSW and Queensland in the last week.  Many of us cannot begin to imagine what this must be like and find it difficult to offer the appropriate support and encouragement.  We keep these people in our thoughts, and pray that they are able to rebuild their lives and recover from their losses.  We also pray for those in the fire services who heroically risk their own lives in serving the needs of others. It is often difficult to express exactly the right sentiments at these times.  Many of you know that I am a great fan of the philosophy of A. A. Milne, the author of the Winnie the Pooh stories.  His reflections on life are quite touching and heartfelt.  I would like to share the reflection below in expressing the way we need to stand beside those who are suffering at the moment with our severe weather conditions.

“Today was a Difficult Day,” said Pooh.

There was a pause.

“Do you want to talk about it?” asked Piglet.

“No,” said Pooh after a bit. “No, I don’t think I do.”

“That’s okay,” said Piglet, and he came and sat beside his friend.

“What are you doing?” asked Pooh.

“Nothing, really,” said Piglet. “Only, I know what Difficult Days are like. I quite often don’t feel like talking about it on my Difficult Days either.

“But goodness,” continued Piglet, “Difficult Days are so much easier when you know you’ve got someone there for you. And I’ll always be here for you, Pooh.”

And as Pooh sat there, working through in his head his Difficult Day, while the solid, reliable Piglet sat next to him quietly, swinging his little legs…he thought that his best friend had never been more right.”

 

God of life and death,

our prayers are where our hearts and minds

have been during this last week;

with those whose lives have been touched

in differing ways by the bushfires.

 

We pray for all those who have been affected

and those who have lost their lives – their families, their friends and their communities;

We pray for those who have been injured and survived:

for physical and emotional trauma;

for the fear and helplessness experienced;

for the anger and frustration at the injustice

of unavoidable disaster.

 

We pray for those who have lost their home and property

or are facing such loss:

for those who have been forced to leave their memories and belongings;

for the fear & disorientation of all involved;

Heal them from their nightmare memories.

 

We pray for all involved in fighting the fire:

for our  Rural Fire Service and their leadership;

we pray for courage in a place of fear;

for new strength in the face of exhaustion;

for people who have travelled distances

in order to resource those who experience fatigue.

 

We pray for all who offer support and care at this time:

for the various agencies, churches and community groups;

for government services as they are activated;

for friends and neighbours, known and unknown;

for aiding recovery and providing a shoulder to cry on;

we give thanks too,

for the generosity of many, in small and large ways,

to those who are struggling.

 

We are mindful of the days, weeks and months ahead,

For many dangerous days yet to come,

for seasons of recovery and rebuilding,

of homes, farms, lives and communities;

we pray for strength, courage, patience and hope

as grieving continues,

as frustrations rise

and the inevitable new changes occur.

 

Let there be peace.

Let there be hope.

Let there be life.

 

Keep us faithful and alert in our praying and our action.

Blessed Edmund Rice, pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts, forever.

Christus Lux Mea

 

Joe Zavone (College Principal)