Around the world this week there will be multiple gatherings and rituals as Christians commemorate Holy Week and the events of the Triduum, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. This is the most sacred time in the Church’s year. As a College we gathered today in prayerful reflection beautifully led by our Liturgy and Identity Leaders. Whilst we commemorate the events of the past, Easter is not just a historical happening. It speaks to us in the present and for our future. It is a powerful reminder that death is not the end, that there is hope beyond suffering, hurt and pain and that love through God’s grace can overcome our faults, failings and wrongdoings.
This year we are called to look at the events of Holy week through the lens of courage. Despite the fear and agony he must have felt, Jesus showed incredible courage in his journey to the cross. He faced his destiny with dignity and grace trusting in God’s plan for him and the world. The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is the ultimate symbol of love and courage. In reflecting on this unwavering commitment to God it would be easy to dismiss these actions as beyond us, given we believe Jesus was divine however this fails to acknowledge that Jesus was also fully human. In the experiences of Holy Week, human experiences of betrayal, humiliation, physical and emotional pain we too can resonate with Jesus as we face challenges at different times.
What helped Jesus endure the journey was not just his faith and relationship with God but also the courage of those he encountered along the road to Calvary, Simon the Cyrene, the women, his mother. Despite the risk of ridicule or persecution they chose to step forward and meet Jesus recognising his inherent human dignity.
Where would we be if we were to place ourselves in the drama of this scene.
Do we feel we are carrying a particular cross and need to have the courage to call on the love of God to remind us that there is life after death, hope after despair, light after darkness?
Do we see ourselves as wanting to reach out to the one we see suffering or in need of support and need to find the courage to do so especially if it might be counter cultural or unpopular?
Are messengers of hope like the angel speaking to the women in the garden after the resurrection?
Whilst the events of Holy Week and Easter bring these reminders into stark profile, there are large and small crosses that we face personally, as families, as communities and as a planet every day that need us to be people of courage.
I was recently reminded of a prayer by Joan Chittester for ‘Conscience and Courage’. I offer some of this with you as we ponder the mystery of Easter.
Lead us beyond ourselves
To care and protect
To nourish and shape
To Challenge and energise
Both the life and the world
You have given us.
God of Light and God of darkness
God of conscience and God of courage
Lead us through this time
Lead us beyond fear, apathy and defensiveness
To new hope in you and to hearts full of faith.
Give us most of all,
The courage to follow those before us
Who challenged wrong and changed it
Whatever the cost to themselves.
As we come to the end of the term, we farewell Luke Hindson (Teaching), Shane Telford (Maintenance), Teresa Soutter (Media and Communications) and Leonie McFarlane (Food Tech Assistant). We thank these staff for their service and commitment to the College throughout their time with us and wish them every blessing for the years ahead.
We welcome David Tripodi who will replace Luke Hindson in our Year 7 team. We are still working through the recruitment processes for the remaining positions.
Following the recent approval of the new Kildare Education Ministries (KEM) policy for immersions we are pleased to announce that we are working towards re-establishing our relationship with the Santa Teresa community in the Northern Territory. Following some initial conversations with Br Mark we are hoping to have a small group of students visit Santa Teresa before the end of the year. Further details will be shared with families early in Term 2.
Michael McCallum, Carmel Brown and myself will be travelling to Timor Leste over the holiday break to reconnect with organisations and schools that have partnered with us previously, especially in the region of Viqueque through the Geelong Viqueque Friendship Schools Program. When we return, we will evaluate if we believe it is safe and viable to recommence student immersions to Timor Leste in the future.
World Youth Day 2023 – Pilgrimage to Lisbon
We are thrilled to announce that four members of our community will be travelling to World Youth Day later this year and gathering with Catholic pilgrims from all around the world in a celebration of the faith. In a year where we are thinking about courage, the witness of these staff and students is a great example of courage and hope as they prepare to engage and then share their experiences with us upon their return.
Anthea Hinchey will be attending as a Student Group Leader.
Bridget Taylor will be undertaking and emerging leaders program including the events of WYD.
Sienna Talbot and Ada Corcoran will travel as pilgrims with other students from the Melbourne Archdiocese.
We wish them every blessing in the coming weeks as they embark on the formation program to prepare them for the experience.
Please note the information to families later in this newsletter relating to students crossing roads surrounding the College. This reminder follows recent reports from concerned community members noticing our students not using the assigned crossing points and putting themselves in danger. Please discuss with your daughters.
End of Term Gratitude and Acknowledgement
I spent this morning visiting our Year 7s to acknowledge the completion of their first term at Clonard. I congratulated them on their accomplishments, especially where they have shown resilience and persistence overcoming the challenges of new beginnings, their achievements with their learning. in particular with the recent growth days and finally with their openness to creating new connections and friendships. In this visit my thanks was extended to the Year 7 team who have supported our students through this term of transition.
As we come to the end of the Term I wish to acknowledge and thank all of our staff who work tirelessly for the good of all of our students. In my end of term message to staff I shared a reflection on blessings and the importance of being able to take the time for the graces of that blessing to truly be felt. Jan Richardson writes:
‘Part of the challenge involved with a blessing is that receiving it actually places us for a time in the position of doing no work—of simply allowing it to come. For those who are accustomed to constantly doing and giving and serving, being asked to stop and receive can cause great discomfort. To receive a blessing, we have to give up some of our control. We cannot direct how the blessing will come, and we cannot define where the blessing will take us. We have to let it do its own work in us, beyond our ability to chart its course.
A blessing is not finished until we let it do its work within us and then pass it along, an offering grounded in the love that Jesus goes on to speak of this night. Yet we cannot do this—as the disciples could not do this—until we first allow ourselves to simply receive the blessing as it is offered: as gift, as promise, as sign of a world made whole.’
We hope that our staff embrace this time of rest, slow and gentleness and time to do ‘no work’ allowing the blessings they receive to come to the fullness of life within them restoring them ready for the next term.
May you and your families be blessed with the peace and joy of Easter.