Inclusive Community in the context of Justice & Solidarity
Sometimes we understand that the action that is necessary to create the conditions of the kingdom of God ‘on earth as it is in heaven’ takes courage and persistence, coloured by love. We are constantly challenged to be people who embody the example of Jesus as we strive to have a living faith. A couple of weeks ago, the staff gathered for a day to reflect on our own sense of spirituality, particularly in this year where we are reflecting on what it means to be a community characterised by justice and solidarity. We had some excellent First Nations community members lead us in this effort: Jade Kennedy invited us into a smoking ceremony of healing; we learned about the importance of the white smoke that carries the healing essence of the bush.
Uncle Peter Button and Aunty welcomed some on pilgrimage and Aunty Dr Barbara Nicholson brought us along on her journey to support incarcerated First nations men in Junee Correctional Centre over the past ten years. Ms Neale helped us to explore spirituality through art, creating our own ‘touchstones’ and an ally, Dr Ann Morgan, helped us to consider reflective practice, before we shared mass together with Fr Duane. The important point of this day was to emphasise that you do not have to be like others in order to appreciate their story. Each of us comes from our own traditions, and as a College we are a Catholic school community. While it is often challenging, we are called to witness to the love of God in the world. This becomes much easier when we don’t want everyone else to be like us, enabling us to embrace the person for who they are, rather than who we may want them to be.
Over the past week we have been reflecting on the importance of collaboration and the fact that each person must take their part in establishing the conditions for Reconciliation, not only in our country, but also in our College community. One of the essential pieces of the architecture of community is establishing the accepted values that guide us. To this end, Ms Neale and the First Nations Student Prefecture have been working on a draft Anti-Racism policy. By seeking to articulate an explicit policy, we hope it is a signal of the importance of inclusion in our community. Sometimes, things can go unnoticed or even unchecked if there is no explicit standard by which to judge it. In two weeks, on Tuesday June 21, our College assembly will focus on what it means to be an inclusive community in the context of justice and solidarity.
We will have an opportunity to consider how people are marginalised for many reasons, including their race, religion, ability, neuro-diversity, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and citizenship status. As you may know, we have been advocating for our Gospel values of love, kindness and compassion as guiding lights as we seek to ‘love God and neighbour.’ (Matt 22)
During the assembly, Jack Brown from Talk2MeBro will also speak to us about the impact on a person’s wellbeing and mental health if they are marginalised within a community. We hope that it is an opportunity to consider what it means to be respectful people who stand up for the fundamental human rights of all people.
Senior Retreat Program – Year 11: Men of Honour
|Year 11 students took time out from their busy schedule to consider their own sense of spirituality and how they are people who have something to contribute to making the world a better place as men for others. This Reflection Day at Stanwell Tops asked them to reflect on how they are connected to all that is living through the ‘Cosmic Walk’ and what it means to be courageous today. Guest speaker Brett Connellan shared his story of recovery and resilience after a shark attack and the workshops, facilitated by ERC staff gave them a chance to identify their own strengths, an excellent preparation for the My Strengths program this week at school. The program aims to encourage students to understand their own value as men of honour and how we can build our community to reflect these values. Thanks especially to Mr Tognetti, Mrs Hughes, Mr Rowe, Mrs Knowles, Mrs Anderson for preparing the workshops.|
Liturgy – Pastoral Care Program
During the Year, as part of the Pastoral Care program on Tuesdays, each Pastoral Care Year Group has the opportunity to participate in a liturgy based on the pastoral theme and a mass. This past week, after several weeks out of the chapel due to flooding, the new floor and repairs were finished and we were able to encounter a liturgy with Year 7, based on their theme of Growing Right Relationships.’ Students were asked to consider how they are good friends to others and how they include people who may feel left out. It is, indeed, an art to develop the skills to reach out to others, especially when you are not sure about how to do it. Based on Pope Francis’ document Fratelli Tutti, we were all challenged to reach out and do something kind for at least one other person this week. Thank you to Mrs Knowles for preparing such a beautiful liturgy.
|In Week 9 we will be participating in the Act for Peace Refugee Ration Challenge to raise money for the initiatives by the National Council of Churches Australia (NCCA) to support refugees and asylum seekers. You can visit our page to make a donation. If you want to donate to a particular person, click on their name first, then donate to them directly. Awesome work on raising over $2000 so far for this important act of solidarity.|
Christian Service & Solidarity Learning – CSL
Year 12 students have been sent the links for the last time here: https://lera.erc.nsw.edu.au/christian-service-learning-csl/csl-year-12
As we are preparing for graduation awards, all activities have to be entered by the end of Week 1, Term 3, but ideally as soon as possible. Congratulations to all students who have given so generously to the community.
After so many restrictions over the past two years, we are so grateful that many students have been getting actively involved in serving the community over the past Semester. Last weekend, a number of students went to St Mary’s to assist the Zonta Club to pack birthing kits for women in developing countries. It was a wonderful opportunity to work collaboratively on such an important project, protecting the vulnerable. Thanks to all the students who came along to pack 500 kits!
Director of Identity