May 31st, 2021
Term Two proceeding better than this time last year
Term Two has been underway for six weeks, and during this time I have reflected about this period 12 months ago. It was at approximately this time in 2020 that we returned from lockdown and returned to our face-to-face teaching and learning agenda. How things have changed for us during this time. Some form of normality was upon us. Then we were reminded of the infectious and disruptive nature of COVID-19. We need to be very mindful of our brother schools in Victoria who recently returned to online learning and also the numerous EREBB schools across the world who are still struggle with the pandemic and have yet to return to face-to-face teaching and learning. Please keep all our brother and sister schools in your prayers and let us be thankful for our safe and healthy environment.
The Easter period concluded during May with the celebration of The Ascension of our Lord and Pentecost Sunday. We spend significant time commemorating before Easter but as soon as Easter Sunday is over, we revert to our normal lives without truly reflecting on the whole Easter period. Saint Augustine shares his perspective about this time when he states:
“The season before Easter signifies the troubles in which we live here and now, while the time after
Easter which we are celebrating at present signifies the happiness that will be ours in the future.
“What we commemorate before Easter is what we experience in this life;
What we celebrate after Easter, points to something we do not yet possess.”
This period after the resurrection should be filled with the Holy Spirit and the hope that the Spirit brings. It is a hope that transcends our current situation, filling the vacuum that exists within our lives, looking for the hope of something better. St Maximus of Turin in the 5th Century wrote, “His Holy Spirit has unlocked the doors of heaven.” The Holy Spirit is our advocate. We need to allow the Spirit room in our lives so that we can renew our HOPE, as we seek happiness and peace in a world that can be challenging.
The Feast of Mary Help of Christians became a special Feast Day for the Christian Brothers, who were encouraged by Blessed Edmund Rice in 1816 “to offer special prayers to Mary Help of Christians”. Since this time Mary has been a significant figure in the lives of the Christian Brothers. Let us pray to Mary Help of Christians to help and guide us during times of need.
Feast of Mary Help of Christians
Mary Help of Christians patroness of Australia
(Feast Day: 24th May)
Almighty God, deepen in our hearts
our love of Mary Help of Christians.
Through her prayers and under her protection,
may the light of Christ shine over our land.
May Australia be granted harmony, justice and peace.
Grant wisdom to our leaders and integrity to our citizens.
Bless especially the men and women
of the Australian Defence Force and their families.
We ask this through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Mary Help of Christians, pray for us
During Founders’ Week, we were once again reminded that we must be inspired to bear witness to the word of Christ, the charism of Blessed Edmund Rice and the work of the Christian Brothers. By being witnesses to the word, we speak to the hearts and minds of all our community. Founders’ Week is a time to:
- acknowledge and honour the past
- celebrate the present
- provide hope for the future.
By re-telling the story of both Blessed Edmund Rice and St Dominic’s Savio, we are reminded that we are not the local government school but rather a Catholic school:
- with a long and valued history
- who stands up for those on the margins
- that does not tolerate injustice
- that has compassion for all those who are in need, especially our indigenous community, refugees, the homeless and those who do not have a voice and suffer without any support where the gospel values are lived on a daily basis.
It is now mine, yours, our responsibility to ensure the stories of both our Founders’ is maintained so that we do not forget who has shaped this great College.
Founders’ Week also provides us with the opportunity to revisit the Blessed Edmund Rice icon. This is the Icon of Blessed Edmund Rice by Irish artist Desmond Kyne, depicting various aspects of Edmund’s life.
The central image shows Edmund stroking the head of his daughter Mary. As he looks out from the picture, Edmund is appealing to us to always be most caring to people in need. He was completely open to the Holy Spirit moving creatively within him, through his life and in his work.
In the top left, the Blessed Virgin Mary looks at us while Jesus looks at Edmund, and with a positive gesture recommends him to Mary. God’s mother is being offered to replace Edmunds lost loved ones – Mary, his young wife, and in another sense, Mary his only child.
Bottom right shows a scene from Edmund’s boyhood as he talks to Brother Patrick Grace, a gentle Augustinian who was well known and well-loved in the Callan area as the Little Grey Friar. In those days you were not allowed to practise religion in the open so they were quite secretive.
Highlighted in the left hand panel is the spiral symbolising God, who inspires Mary, a devout Jewish girl. When Mary’s parents dedicated her as a baby they presented her in the temple. The Presentation sisters inspired Edmund to his educational work.
Highlighted in the right hand panel is St Teresa of Avila, a Carmelite mystic of the preceding century, upon whose writings Edmund often reflected.
During the month of May, we are reminded of the life of Mary, our heavenly mother. Mary was challenged to remain a faithful witness to the message of Christ and it was her faith in Christ, through and the work of the Holy Spirit, that inspired her to proclaim the good news. Let us live Jesus in our hearts as we follow in the footsteps of Mary, our Divine mother.
Also in May, the College welcomed a new staff member Mr H. Chee who will be joining the Mathematics Department. Mr Chee replaces a long-standing member of staff Mrs Geerling. On behalf of the College, I wish Mr Chee every success and may our prayers be with him as he commences his journey with us.
During Week 5, I attended the EREA National Principals and Business Managers Conference. This was the first time we as a national group were able to gather since 2019. It was an amazing experience that commenced with a walk around Brisbane with an Aboriginal Leader, Uncle Joe Kirk, who shared the story of the Jagera and Turrbal people. Br Damien Price then led reflection and prayer on the theme of “Know the story, tell the Story, Become the Storyteller”. Br Damien is a wonderful storyteller and stressed the importance of telling the stories of each region and each school. We were then welcomed by students from our brother and sister schools in Queensland who shared stories about their outreach programs and their experiences of learning in an EREA school. The story of survival from one of the students Mary, a Sudanese refugee, was amazing. She clearly articulated her struggles and how she was welcomed by Australia and more specifically St James College, Brisbane (The first established Christian Brothers school in Brisbane). A story so familiar within many EREA schools.
The Conference then moved to reflecting on the touchstone of “Liberating Education’ with numerous speakers elaborating on what it means to have a liberating education in our EREA context. Professor Yong Zhao, a leading US educationalist, was ‘beamed’ in from the USA. He explored the idea of Students as Change Partners and how we should support students in finding their passions and work with these passions to support them in becoming successful. An insightful person. The young Year 12 students from the Queensland schools also shared their views on student engagement, motivation and how they managed distractions, the role of technology in their lives and how they stayed connected with teachers and peers. It is always great to hear the voices of our students when is comes to their learning.
The Conference concluded with a farewell celebration for three significant people who helped establish EREA. Mr Wayne Tinsey (Executive Director, 2007 – 2020), Mr Geoff Doyle (National Director – Stewardship) and Br Paul Oatley (EREA Council Chairperson, 2007 – 2020). These three men were instrumental in the success story that is EREA. All three were strong advocates for St Dominic’s College and visited the College on numerous occasions. On behalf of the College, I would like to thank and congratulate them for being good and faithfull servants of EREA, the Christian Brothers and the Catholic Church. These were some of the highlights of this valuable gathering and reinforced the importance and joy of our connection with the wider EREA community.
NAPLAN testing returned in 2021. I would like to congratulate Y7 and Y9 for the diligence in preparing and completing the tests. It can be a stressful time for many students. We look forward to great achievement and learning gains for all our students. These tests are diagnostic tests that demonstrate what the students have learnt in class. NESA states:
“The results provide information about student achievement that can be used to inform teaching and learning programs. NAPLAN tests provide point-in-time information regarding student progress in literacy and numeracy and are intended to compliment the wide range of formal and informal assessments that are already conducted in schools. NAPLAN test results are not intended to be used in isolation from other school-based assessment programs.”
It is important to note that these tests help inform the College on student progress and assists us in developing programs that will assist the students at St Dominic’s College.
The Y7 – Y10 Student / Parent / Teacher Interviews also returned in 2021. The College used a hybrid model that provided both face-to-face and online opportunities for parents, students and teachers to discuss the current academic progress of our sons. This provided all parents a great opportunity to maintain open communicate between stakeholders as we work in partnership to continue the holistic development of our sons. As students continue with their learning, I would encourage all parents to engage with their son’s learning and contact teachers if they believe their sons are not performing to the best of their capabilities.
Last week members of the College staff interviewed Y7 2022 applicants. Once again, the staff have been extremely excited by the quality of the applicants. All those interviewed were fantastic in their responses and a credit to their families and their current primary schools. The College will offer up to 200 places for 2022. These offers will be emailed to all the successful applicants from Monday 7th June. Unfortunately, the number of applicants exceeds the number of offers possible therefore several families will be placed on a waiting list. Thank you to all families who have applied and we look forward to our future partnership with the successful applicants.
Unfortunately, I was unable to visit the Y9 camp this year but from all reports the students were outstanding in their participation in the activities and their cooperation with all of the staff. I am confident there will be many stories that will be embellished and become part of folklore with Y9. A special thanks to Mr Turner and the Y9 team consisting of Mr Bourke, Mr Gately, Mr Hall, Mr Lawler, Mr Lawson, Mrs McSweeney, Mr Phillips, Miss Quinlivan, Miss Tahan, Mr Zammit and Mr Ryan for taking the time from their families to support the outdoor education program. They looked extremely weary last Wednesday when they returned , so I look forward to hearing more of their experiences once they have recovered.
There have been numerous events during our last newsletter that has highlighted the outstanding commitment of so many young men of the College. I encourage you to visit our website to see and read about some of the amazing things that are happening here at the College. http://www.stdominics.nsw.edu.au
When I reflect on my own schooling, the memories that stand out the hopefully live long in their memories and become talking points for our young men when their have their reunions. Some of these events also include:
- Mother’s Day Mass
- Photography competitions
- Nepean Careers Market
- F1 In-Schools Team
- Reconciliation Week.
It has been wonderful to see MCS representative Football and Rugby League being played in Term 2. All our teams have been very competitive over the season. We wish all the football teams every success in their semi-finals this week. The A Grade Rugby League team will also be involved in a semi-final match while the rest of the league teams will be participating in the final game of the regular season and, hopefully, they will be involved in the semi-finals next week. Hopefully we will be able to celebrate numerous premierships in the weeks to come. Go the Blue and White!
A reminder that playing for the College is a privilege that comes with great responsibility therefore maintaining the high standards established by those who have played in the blue and white now becomes the responsibility of the players. This should be even more apparent during the final series. Special congratulations to all our students who have been successful in representing St Dominic’s at the MCS and the NSWCCC level.
May the remainder of the term be filled with many successes as we continue to support each other in the formation of our sons.
Let Your Light Shine
Mr M. Ronchetti