Imagine having the opportunity to speak with Pope Francis.

Last week, Bridget Taylor one of our Maths teachers, met the Holy Father Pope Francis in Rome as part of the Emerging Leaders program coinciding with World Youth Day Lisbon. The extraordinary opportunity, lasting more than 50 minutes, involved 133 emerging leaders who are part of nearly 600 young people from Melbourne, enroute to World Youth Day from 2-6 August.

Bridget said she was overjoyed by the experience. ‘To be honest it was a bit of a blur! I’m just completely in awe of what I’ve experienced. Being an emerging leader and passionate about the future of Catholic education, I was fortunate enough to ask what his message was that we can share with our staff and students.’


‘He said to accompany our students and to work with our staff, create boundaries but also give them the freedom to accept whatever faith they follow and to believe in the Church. I can’t wait to go home and share this with the students, staff at Clonard and the community in Geelong!’


We trust that all our pilgrims are embracing this transformational opportunity as they gather together to mark World Youth Day in Lisbon.

People often tell us that something they love about Clonard are the opportunities. This past fortnight we have hosted the students from Otsuma College in Japan. Yesterday I met with their Principal Mr Hiromasa Kajitori and representatives of his school. He shared with me how appreciative he was of the hospitality and generosity of the Clonard families who have hosted his students and of our students more broadly who have engaged with the Otsuma students during their visit. He said our students were always kind and friendly.

Thank you to the families and staff who have made this cultural exchange such a success and helped our students to understand the importance of global connection and friendship.

Next Saturday our College returns to the Santa Teresa Community outside Alice Springs. This will be a wonderful opportunity for our students to understand the ancient heartbeat of our country and experience firsthand the connection of our First Nations people to this land. Broadening our relationships with First Nations people through authentic encounter is a key strategy of the Kildare Ministries Trustees Strategic Intentions for 2021-2023.

We trust these young people will continue to be ambassadors for reconciliation upon their return. I will be accompanying the group for the first few days of their trip to meet with and thank the Santa Teresa community, especially Br Mark, for hosting us. We also hope to reconnect with Clonard alumnae Kellie Maine who works and lives in the community.

Keeping with the theme of opportunity, we are delighted to share that our first Learner Profiles, as part of our New Metrics for Success partnership with the University of Melbourne, are going out to our Year 7 students. Last night we launched the profiles with a group of families who came along to join in a community conversation then learn greater details about how the competencies are framed, taught and assessed. These first learner profiles will show the students level of competency in Agency and Collaboration which have been a focus throughout the first semester.

Next week we are hosting a luncheon with other educators, training providers, local business to broaden the conversation about the possibilities and impact these profiles might have for our learners and our community more broadly. How might we build on the amazing work of our primary schools? Which elements of the competencies do future training providers and employers see as important? What is important for us as a Geelong community when we think about the young people we are educating?

Part of our responsibility as partners in this work is to contribute to the broader conversation about education which we hope will be supported through next week’s gathering. We have hosted two schools recently who have visited to learn about what we are doing. There is great value for us in each of these experiences as they help us to clarify our intentions, deepen our understanding and work to improve what we are doing based on the feedback we receive. Exciting times.

Monday is a pupil free day. Staff will engage in faith formation workshops in the morning, followed by completion of modules to support our work with students who have additional needs. Teaching staff will gather in small groups to report on their successes to date against their goals for the year and in the afternoon session we will continue our conversation about how we are shaping a new story for learning influenced by our New Metrics and Deep Learning work.

In all of these happenings I have been reminded of our Kildare Ministries’ prayer:

We are people of listening hearts.

We hear the invitation

We cannot cease from journeying

Always one pace beyond.

May we, like Brigid, Daniel and Naon

Know the fire within

And trust the opening path.

May we hear the ancient blessings

Breathed into the ears of our hearts

As we create the path

To journey by a new and different way.