Newsletter 5: 2 April 2019

“Victor Hugo once said, ‘The future has many names. For the weak of will it means impossible and for the fearful it means the unknown.’ But Pope Francis has a different view, and may it find a place in each of your schools … the future, he says, does have a name – and that name is HOPE,”

Mr Peter Turner, Executive Director for Catholic Schools, Diocese of Wollongong

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 above quote by Peter Turner1, 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.

At the recent Marist Schools Australia Principals meetings in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, time was spent reflecting and discussing the many immediate challenges encountered as the current leaders in our own school communities. “Weak, impossible, fearful, unknown” were not words used to describe our present or our future. Significantly, the overwhelming sentiment in all three meetings was hope. In different ways, Principals spoke of the inspirational work of their teachers and staff in our Marist schools. They described teachers and staff members, whose daily, transformative actions are helping to shape and form young people for the future. The constancy of their passion, generosity, witness, good humour and example was repeatedly emphasised by the Principals, as the greatest influence in ensuring our schools are places of hope. These were privileged moments of reflection and appreciation for the exceptional people teaching and working in our schools.

As we approach the holy season of Easter, may we contemplate anew words from Water from the Rock, our guide to Marist Spirituality, which illuminate the belief and source of hope we share with Christians throughout the ages.

At the foot of the Cross, we are in awe of a God who loves us without reserve. We find a God who shares the physical and psychological suffering, betrayal, abandonment and violence experienced by humanity, and transforms these experiences. There we enter the mystery of redemptive suffering and learn humble fidelity in love. The crucified Christ is the sign and deepest expression of a God who is love.

(WTFR para 22)

Sally Dillon