Newsletter 6: 7 May 2019
Newsletter 5: 2 April 2019
It is a term most often heard in Australia during the cyclical qualifying rounds for the Football (Soccer) World Cup. The very word is usually accompanied with an uncertain, expansive, arcing sweep of the hand to vaguely describe a vast expanse of the globe, covered by water sprinkled with beautiful island nations. In 1836, when Pope Gregory XVI gave responsibility to the Marists for spreading the Gospel in “Oceania”, one can only imagine the limited understanding of the geographical enormity, in the offer and reception, of that mission. The region of Oceania covers an incredible 8,525,989 square kilometres.
Newsletter 4: 19 March 2019
Whilst Easter is still some weeks away, this is the final newsletter for the term with a number of schools in different States soon commencing holidays. It has been an extremely challenging few months for all who work for the Church, and particularly for school leaders and teachers. The quote by Peter Turner, from a widely reported speech made at the annual Wollongong Catholic Schools Mass a few weeks ago, has attracted much attention across the nation over the past fortnight. In his address, in an overflowing St John Vianney’s Co Cathedral, Peter captured for everyone present, a lived reality evident in Catholic schools throughout our country.
Newsletter 3: 5 March 2019
As we mourn the victims of the massacre last Friday in Christchurch, the ubiquitous nature and capacity for influence of social media, poignantly arrests us as educators. Social media when used appropriately is a most natural and uplifting sharing of life and experience among family, friends, and colleagues. The live, uncensored, multi media nature of the platform and its incredible reach around the globe is compelling and powerful. It is a form of communication replete with good news and moments of joyous significance. However, as witnessed last Friday, social media can be used as a destructive tool for evil, inciting hatred and inflicting immense pain and suffering. Broadcasted murder of innocent, defenceless people praying to God, violently and indescribably shocks us. The massacre was the antithesis of love, nurture and care, God’s gifts to the unique nature of human kind.
Newsletter 2: 19 February 2019
Much has been written and spoken in the past week concerning the trials, verdict and subsequent appeal in the case of Cardinal Pell. As Marists, may we continue to pray together for the victims and survivors of child sex abuse as well as their families and loved ones. Let us also pray for justice.
As we commence the Lenten Season on Ash Wednesday this week, may we turn our minds and hearts to Jesus with intensity. This Lent, as we reflect upon the hurts and sorrows for which we seek forgiveness, let us ask Jesus to bring to the fore our better selves, compassionate, generous, thoughtful, forgiving, and hopeful. In these deeply troubling times we might look to our own story and tradition for inspiration. Despite the many very real challenges and adversity facing Saint Marcellin and the people with whom he lived and worked, deep trust in God was clearly evident, most outstanding in the joy and love for one another that was prospered. Marcellin’s dying wish for the young Christians he had gathered in the name of Mary rings loudly for us today.
Newsletter 1: 5 February 2019
Last week you may have read of the award presented in Geneva to a 25 year old Sudanese asylum seeker, Abdul Aziz Muhamat, who has been detained on Manus island since the age of 20. Abdul was allowed to fly to Switzerland to receive the 2019 Martin Ennals Award Laureate, which annually honours individuals who have shown outstanding commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights, often working under threat of imprisonment, torture or worse. Whilst there has been recent debate in the Federal Parliament and amendments to legislation, which will provide an evacuation process to Australian health facilities for asylum seekers with serious medical conditions who are currently on Nauru and Manus islands, the overall management of those detention facilities by the Australian Government continues to attract international criticism. Here at home, our Catholic Bishops have represented the thoughts of many Australians, urging our elected representatives to find new ways of assisting people seeking refuge in Australia.
Newsletter 16: 4 December 2018
Last week, in Panama, whilst addressing young Catholics from around the globe gathered for World Youth Day, the Holy Father challenged those assembled to consider carefully the very purpose of their lives as young Christian women and men.
Newsletter 15: 20 November 2018
Recently my dear mother who is fast approaching 87, went shopping for my birthday gift. The effort itself these days is quite an overwhelming act of kindness. Over the years I have received pretty regularly the ABC Cricket book for the season ahead, and a few cans of condensed milk, which was part of my diet as a very young fellow in order to gain weight. (It worked splendidly!) This birthday as the beautifully wrapped present was passed into my hands, the familiar shape of the condensed milk cans was sadly absent. Unexpectedly, the present was in fact a book by the Australian political journalist Greg Sheridan, titled “God is Good for You – a defence of Christianity in troubled times”. Possibly it was intended as a clear and direct motherly intervention, but was accepted as a fascinating Advent reflection, and I commend it to you in this holy season.
Newsletter 14: 6 November 2018
Whilst we draw near to Advent, a time of preparation and anticipation for the celebration of Christmas, it is also the conclusion of the 2018 school year. In our Marist school communities across the country people are being rightly recognised and thanked for their work and contributions to the Marist mission of making Jesus known and loved. As members of Marist Schools Australia, it is important to recognise significant leaders among us who will soon be concluding in their roles this December.
Newsletter 13: 23 October 2018
At the beginning of each November we are invited to remember those who have been before us. The Feasts of All Saints and All Souls draw us to recall the lives of loved ones, and those in whom glimpses of God seemed most apparent. Archbishop Mark Coleridge celebrated Mass in the new Chapel at the Marist Centre in Mascot on All Saints day, and in his homily spoke eloquently of the importance of “memory”. Our Catholic tradition of remembering and celebrating the lives of Saints helps to inform and inspire our actions now and in the future. The Archbishop reminded us of Jesus’ invitation to us at the Last Supper, “Do this in memory of me”.
Regional Director - Marist Schools Australia
As many would be aware, during these past school holidays, the Marist Association of Saint Marcellin Champagnat held their second National Assembly. 180 people gathered at Sacred Heart College in Adelaide from different Marist schools, ministries and communities across the country. Importantly, those in attendance were there at their own expense and time for the purposes of being together and reflecting on the progress of the Association over the past three years and imaging the future for this new Marist movement. Participants ranged in age from late teens to early 90s, and all shared an openness to the Spirit and one another that was uplifting and inspiring. The hospitality of the fine people of Sacred Heart College and the Adelaide Marists was greatly appreciated.
Newsletter 12: 11 September 2018
The National Director of Marist Schools Australia invites applications for the Director of the Brisbane Region. Marist Schools Australia brings together a family of 55 Catholic schools which draw on Marist spirituality and Marist educational practice to help shape their identity and enliven their mission of evangelization through Catholic education.
For an information package, please contact Sally Dillon on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Applications close: 17 October 2018
Newsletter 11: 28 August 2018
The National Marist Assistant Principals conference, recently held at the Marist Centre in Brisbane, was a great gathering of 44 Marist leaders from every State and Territory. The theme of the Conference was The climate of the Marist classroom and was ably led by Dr Paul Rijken, the Principal of Cardijn College in Adelaide, and a member of the South Australian Commission for Catholic Schools. Paul is a dynamic and visionary Catholic school leader, with a passion for school improvement, informed by research, to foster outstanding learning outcomes for students. In 2018 Paul was appointed director of Catholic Secondary Principals Australia and a member of the Regional Council (VIC/SA/WA) for Marist Schools Australia. In 2017, he completed a PhD in mathematics and science from Curtin University and was awarded Principals Australia Institute’s John Laing Award for his commitment to facilitating professional learning for all staff in his school and across the SA Catholic sector.
Newsletter 10: 14 August 2018
After a tumultuous week in Australian politics, we have a new Prime Minister, and a new Cabinet. Whatever our political beliefs and preferences, it would seem most Australians are pretty fed up with party machinations that led to the removal of a Prime Minister elected by the people. Many political commentators have suggested the succession of different Prime Ministers over the last decade reflects poorly on the way Australian politicians engage in responsible, democratic government.
Newsletter 9: 31 July 2018
We all know from our junior Geography lessons that Australia is the driest continent on earth. A brief review of weather records for the past 200 years readily presents the reality of repeated periods of drought in different parts of the country. The current drought effecting Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria is among the most severe on record.
As all Marist schools across the country have commenced Semester II, it is worth recalling once again our Marist theme for 2018 in this Year of Youth in the Australian Church.
“For I know the plans I have for you ...to give you hope and a future” - Jeremiah 29:11
Hope, optimism, a new dawn, a fresh start – all positive attitudes to life, strongly rooted in our Christian tradition and expressions of trust in God. Such sentiments are most applicable for our students as they commence their second semester of academic work. Hope, optimism, and trust in God are at the core of Marist spirituality.