Welcome back to 2023! 

We especially welcome our new Year 7 students, new students across Years 8-11, our exchange students from Tokyo, Japan and our new College staff. 

This year we are taking the Kildare Ministries value of ‘Courage – speaking and acting with integrity’ as our source of inspiration for all we do. 

In the early 90s motivational posters were a thing – in workplaces, waiting rooms, bedroom walls. You might remember them. I didn’t realise that penguins were the poster animal of courage but when you google ‘inspirational posters of the early 90s and you type in courage – up come the penguins leaping from icebergs! 

We will all have an experience of courage. The act of being human and all that it takes to live fully into our humanity in a day, week, month, indeed a lifetime requires courage. We know that it is easy to identify the heroic, big acts of courage. We know that the small everyday acts of courage are just as powerful. It’s not always about the leaping off the iceberg! 

How would you define courage?  

Some definitions explain courage as: 

  1. Feeling fear yet choosing to act 
  2. Following your heart 
  3. Persevering in the face of adversity 
  4. Standing up for what is right 
  5. Expanding your horizons and letting go of the familiar 
  6. Facing suffering (difficulty/challenge) with dignity or faith 

I admire the work of Brene Brown who write a lot about courage and vulnerability. She says: 

“Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is ‘cor’ – the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” Over time, this definition has changed, and today, we typically associate courage with heroic and brave deeds. But in my opinion, this definition fails to recognize the inner strength and level of commitment required for us to actually speak honestly and openly about who we are and about our experiences — good and bad. Speaking from our hearts is what I think of as “ordinary courage.” 

Whilst Brene doesn’t use the word integrity here I believe this is what she is referring to when she speaks about the ‘heart’ of courage.  

Whist there is a secular understanding of ‘courage’ we also draw on our faith tradition. 

The Hebrew word for courage often used in the scriptures meant ‘to show oneself strong’. I’m sure this was not just in terms of physical strength.  

In our faith context the basis of what shapes our courage is a belief in God’s abiding presence.  

Do not be afraid, I am with you is a frequent phrase in scripture. This promise of a steadfast God is written through both old and new testaments.  Some google searches suggest that fear not or be not afraid occurs 365 times in scripture. But whether its 365, 109 or 80 the message is that the God is constantly reminding us that we are never alone.  

It is intentional then that this phrase forms part of our College theme for 2023. 

We have the person of Jesus as a model of courage. Jesus lived in pretty scary times. Nazareth, Galilee, Jerusalem 2000 years ago were no Herne Hill!! Jesus faced physical, mental, emotional, ethical and spiritual challenges throughout his entire life that required a courageous response. From the temptation in the desert, the calming of the storm, the lack of belief, denial and even betrayal from his closest friends, responding with dignity to the challenges of the pharisees, meeting, accepting and healing the most outcast – lepers, women, gentiles to finally accepting a facing death willingly. Through his life Jesus gave us greatest model of how to be a person of courage – speaking and acting with integrity. He taught and modelled how to have the courage: 

  • To forgive 
  • To express belief 
  • To be open to the other 
  • To seek peace 
  • To seek justice 
  • To have hope 
  • To trust God
  • To pray 

And for us at Clonard, we have the lives of St Brigid, Nano Nagle, Bishop Daniel Delany and then the countless women who served in their name who walked and still walk in the footsteps of Jesus living lives of courage in the context of their times.  

This is why we must keep telling their stories as a constant source of courage.  

So our College theme for 2023: 

Be not afraid – let’s remember God is with us and we are with each other. 

Take courage – courage is found in all of us, head heart and hands, inspired by our values and beliefs. 

Arise – may our courage make a difference in the service of others


There are a number of articles in this first newsletter that provide important information for parents and families. I draw your attention to these and ask that you note: