ERA for Change – Edmund Rice Advocacy
Our Church year is organised around specific liturgical seasons, Feasts and Solemnities, so we are always keenly aware of the shifting focus to different aspects of the story of Jesus. 20 November was the last Sunday of the Year, celebrating the Solemnity of Christ the King and it was instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925 with his encyclical Quas primas (“In the first”) to respond to growing secularism and atheism. The purpose of the solemnity is to encourage us to celebrate and live out our faith in public. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops wrote, “For Christians, when our faith is repeatedly marginalized in public life, we can fall into the habit of compartmentalizing our lives. We love Jesus in our private lives, but we shrink from acknowledging the kingship of Christ in social life.” This is the constant challenge of being human, to be truly who you are in all aspects of your life.
Last Thursday we celebrated a woman whose very essence breathed this reality as a member of our College community, Ms Kathleen McGuinness. In reflecting on her legacy, it was her love for God and for the Gospel that were the hallmarks of her life. May we all be so remembered when we leave here.
This week we have been promoting RESPECT, leading up to the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, using the ERC Everyday Respect Challenge to help each of us to take positive action to demonstrate respect. Sometimes it is easy to complain about or protest about things that are wrong or impact the human rights of others, the harder challenge is to follow that up with positive action as a role model. As a Catholic school, our educational philosophy here at the College is based on an understanding that each and every person is made in the image of God. Thus, by promoting respect for yourself and others, we hope to reflect the equal dignity of people. However, we live in a world where the reality is that women are overrepresented as victims of violence and abuse. This week, every pastoral class participated in a lesson about Respect, the facts about violence against women and ways you can stand up against violence. You can access the lessons here and I encourage you to speak to your sons about this very important issue and how each of us can be a person who makes a positive impact on the world. The culmination of the activity was the creation of white ribbons with the positive actions that each student has committed to taking.
Elimination of Violence Against Women Event
On Friday, ten student leaders joined me and Mr Tognetti to support a multi government agency event in Sydney. From under the ANZAC bridge at Transport NSW, the students served lunch for the participants from Transport, Surf Lifesaving and other agencies as they raised money for White Ribbon initiatives and awareness of the issue of violence, an especially important initiative given the industry is heavily male dominated. The on water White Ribbon awareness raising event saw jet skis in the formation of a white ribbon use the iconic Sydney Harbour location to raise awareness of the importance of this issue for all people. From a front row seat in the control room, they experienced the logistics and teamwork to make such an event happen.
More than that, it was an opportunity to explore how our everyday interactions are experiences where we can open the conversation about respect and eliminating violence against women. I reflected then that while it will not eliminate violence against women, it certainly elevates the importance of these conversations and action that follows to make the world more closely reflect the dignity that all people should experience in life. During Reconciliation Week I recall the sails of the Opera House lit up with First nations artwork and while it did not solve the issues of racism or reconciliation, I believe it elevated the importance in the minds of those who saw it. Thanks to @transportNSW for the opportunity to serve and the leadership and vision to do it, especially Mrs Christina Logue who facilitated the opportunity.
Social Justice Christmas Appeal
We have one week to go and encourage every student to contribute to the Christmas Appeal. All donations have to be in by Thursday December 1 so that we can pack the boxes on Friday and do any last minute shopping for the Dignity Bags, in preparation for our Advent assembly the following week. Money donations can be made through our website and the Bpay system or in class.
Due to the recent floods in NSW, we have made a variation to the appeal. The money collected in Year 8 will now go to the Flood Relief for a small community near Forbes. Mr Preeo has more information for the Year group. We are still all collecting food for Vinnies and the Homeless Hub.
As we are entering the Advent season, we are reminded of the importance of prayer in our lives. The preparation for Christmas is often dominated by gift buying, food preparation and holiday plans. We encourage everyone to remember to take some time out for reflection and invite you to the Friday prayer in the Chapel at recess 2. Remember – the best gift is your presence. Prayer helps us to be truly present to others and to God in our lives.
Director of Identity