As we come to the end of our semester, we pause to give thanks for all that we have been able to learn, do, celebrate and achieve over the past six months. Our first six months uninterrupted onsite in 3 years.

This year in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list Sr Brigid Arthur and Sr Angela Ryan were awarded. This is well deserved recognition of extraordinary work by these two Brigidine Sisters over many decades. Both are intelligent, hardworking and generous women who live out the Gospel with deep sincerity and grace. Sr Brigid who is well known to us, and a Trustee of Kildare Ministries was recognised for distinguished service to social welfare, particularly asylum seekers and refugees, and to Catholic education. This passion for education is still evident today by her presence at our Kildare Education Ministries Board AGM last week. Whilst Sr Angela Ryan was awarded for service to the Catholic Church of Australia, Angela has also served as a KEM Board member with a particular role in the Finance Committee. Sr Angela retired from the Board at this year’s meeting. We also farewelled the Board Chair, Sr Louise Cleary, who has been appointed to the role of Congregational Leader. It is humbling to see the faith and trust these Brigidine women have given to us as lay leaders of the schools and ministries to which they have given their lives in service. We also congratulate Rosemary Nugent for her OAM. Rosemary is a past staff member of our College, teaching Indonesian in the 1980s and was recognized for her community works. Rosemary has an active interest in social justice relating to Timor Leste, refugees and the environment.

In this past week I was privileged to listen to the words of another great wisdom woman of our Church, when I travelled with Jen Talbot and four of our Year 11 students to listen to Sr Joan Chittister about the role of the public intellectual in our world. Sr Joan, also in her 80s, pulls no punches and was challenging and hope filled about what might be possible for our Church and a just democratic society if we exercise the gift of our education, especially one in faith. She asked, who are you? And, what will you do with your life? She challenged us to be listeners, speakers and questioners where we would find the answers in the dialogue. She then gave the audience eight ways to strengthen the qualities of a just democracy. Sr Joan also challenges us to question and speak for the place of women in the Church, something that I believe deeply in both personally and as the leader of our College. In one of her speeches Sr Joan reminded her audience that “People do not belong to the Church, they are the Church” impressing on us that the believer and the baptised have the right and a responsibility to use their gifts in the Church. I am drawn to the Kildare Ministries value of ‘Courage: speaking and acting with integrity’ as I reflect on these recent experiences. With the upcoming second sitting of the Plenary Council in July considering the future of the Church in Australia, we pray that we might find the courage to listen deeply and respond with renewed vision and hope to where the Holy Spirit is drawing us.

As we come to the end of our semester, we are already commencing the cycle of looking ahead as enrolment offers were sent to families this week for 2023. There is a wonderful sense of anticipation as families commence accepting offers and we look to welcoming them into our community. Many of these families have already shared in our first New Metrics Information session and have indicated their interest in partnering with us as we further develop this new way of thinking about student learning and success. Our next evening will be held early in Term 3. Many students have also commenced the process of thinking about subject selections for 2023 which will see our senior students having the option of choosing the Vocational Major pathway as part of their VCE as we transition from the VCE and VCAL certificates to a fully integrated certificate in 2025. This process will continue into July with supports and information available to students and families through our website and in school information sessions. We also start to consider the staffing needs of the College for 2023 as staff reflect on their intentions for the year ahead.

This week we farewell Justin McInerney who is leaving us to commence a position with the Diocese of Ballarat Catholic Education Office supporting teachers in their development and delivery of RE. We couldn’t think of a better person to be supporting teachers in this most important part of our ministry. Justin has contributed greatly to our College over the past 17 years in many ways always over and above the requirements of the role. He was one who always put the students first.

We also acknowledge Sacha Saker who will be leaving our Student Services Team at the end of this term to start a new position with Barwon Health which will see her broaden her experiences by working in a new field of social work and mental health services. Sacha has made a wonderful contribution to our Student Services Team in the short time she has been with the College and we wish her every success in her future endeavours.

Looking ahead, please note there is no pupil free day at the start of Term 3. This was advertised earlier in the year however this day was taken back in May due to the availability of the speaker who was presenting on the day.

We trust families will have a safe and restful break from the routine of school and enjoy the gifts that the winter break brings.