Newsletter 13: 10 September 2019

In preparing a large host of students over many months from multiple schools for World Youth Day, Madrid in 2011, the credo “I’m a pilgrim, not a tourist!” was repeatedly impressed upon the young people by the adult leaders. In part, this was to build a robust mindset for the inevitable challenges to comfort, convenience, patience and energy. Of course, primarily the credo was to focus the group on the real purpose of the journey: a faith experience.

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Sally Dillon
Newsletter 12: 27 August 2019

Most who have worked in Catholic schools can speak of experiences with families and children new to Australia. This past week, the Australian Catholic Church has placed a purposeful focus on Migrants and Refugees. Recalling Pope Francis’ words,

the presence of migrants and refugees – and of vulnerable people in general – is an invitation to recover some of those essential dimensions of our Christian existence and our humanity that risk being overlooked in a prosperous society. That is why it is not just about migrants. When we show concern for them, we also show concern for ourselves, for everyone; in taking care of them, we all grow; in listening to them, we also give voice to a part of ourselves that we may keep hidden because it is not well-regarded nowadays.

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Sally Dillon
Newsletter 11: 13 August 2019

The recent Marist Schools Australia Biennial Conference held in Melbourne a fortnight ago, was a gathering of the clan over three days which was inspirational, encouraging, profoundly optimistic and prayerful. With school leaders hailing from Marist Schools in 19 Dioceses across the country, much was gained from the liturgies, key note speeches and workshops. Apart from these more formal times, there was enormous richness in the sharing that took place over a meal, at morning tea, or during a quiet drink at the end of the day. The whole time together provided immense opportunity and scope for reflection on the work we do with our students, with the fundamental focus being how we make Jesus known and loved through the provision of quality education. The vibrancy and vitality of Marist Schools Australia as a Faith community was palpable, and noted in remarks by Archbishop Peter Comensoli and Bishop Greg Homeming, both of whom generously contributed to the Conference. We are indeed fortunate to have such a network in existence, conscious of its uniqueness on the Australian Catholic educational landscape.

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Sally Dillon
Newsletter 10: 30 July 2019

As Term 2 came to its ragged conclusion across the nation, three significant retirements of Principals were celebrated. Brother Robert Sutton, Brother Michael Flanagan, and Mr Rick Sidorko brought to conclusion an astounding, combined total of 127 years of service and leadership to Catholic education. Each experienced heart felt farewells from their current school communities and expressions of deep gratitude were made for their work throughout their long and fruitful years in schools.

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Sally Dillon
Newsletter 9: 18 June 2019

In the wake of the Champagnat day celebrations held in our Marist Schools across the country, the contribution of Marists to Catholic education in Australia has been worthy of reflection. Importantly and happily, the growth of Marist education is also a feature of Marist life and ministry in Australia. “Growth” was the oft used word on Friday 7 June, when Marists from around the country gathered to celebrate the official blessing and opening of the exciting new development at Sacred Heart College in Adelaide.

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Sally Dillon
Newsletter 8: 4 June 2019

Last week, 37 Assistant Principals from Marist Schools across the country gathered at The Hermitage in Mittagong for three days for their third national conference. Over the past three years, these committed and gifted Marist educators have come together to pray, share, network and reflect with the purpose of building capacity to become more effective in their critical leadership roles in Marist education.

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Sally Dillon
Newsletter 7: 21 May 2019

In recent weeks, the passing of two well-known Australians featured much in the national discourse as Australians prepared for the Federal election. The passing of Les Murray, arguably Australia’s most prolific and influential poet and former Prime Minister, Bob Hawke has provided cause for reflection on their great legacy to our nation. Bob Hawke, a giant of the Labor party and Trade Union movement was lauded for his commitment to consensus during his years as Prime Minister. Murray, a convert to Catholicism, dedicated each of his books to “the glory of God” and much of his work articulated a spirituality which resonated with many. Br Peter Carroll, Provincial and Leader of the Marist Association, wrote beautifully of the legacy of Les Murray and his fellow ‘poet of the human spirit’, Jean Vanier, in the recent edition of Christ life and we commend this reflection to you.

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Sally Dillon
Newsletter 6: 7 May 2019

Oceania!

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.

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Sally Dillon
Newsletter 5: 2 April 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.

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Sally Dillon
Newsletter 4: 19 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.

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Sally Dillon
Newsletter 3: 5 March 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.

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Sally Dillon
Newsletter 2: 19 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.

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Sally Dillon
Newsletter 1: 5 February 2019

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.

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Sally Dillon
Newsletter 16: 4 December 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.

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Sally Dillon
Newsletter 15: 20 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.

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Sally Dillon