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WE ARE FAMILY! Every home, a school of life and love
View the Strenna HERE.
The Strenna is an annual motto that is intended to guide us in our dealings with the young, in every aspect of our work for the year. This year the Salesian Strenna is about Family; explaining not only what family is but how its members live together in love. The task before us is to ensure that we find practical ways to make certain that all the boys in our care, experience the love of family. In many ways we, at Salesian Chadstone, already live the family spirit which is the Salesian Family, but the Strenna ensures that we review what we do and develop new ways of being family to our boys and each other.
The focus on family is certainly not a new one for the Salesians, as we know that being Salesian means being family. After all, our founder Don Bosco, along with his mother, opened a home, an Oratory for his boys so that they could experience the loving embrace of family. This Strenna is meant to focus our attention on families in the most diverse situations in which we find ourselves. The subject has been suggested by the Church, as it too senses the need for ever greater and more appropriate pastoral care for families.
All of us have a strong personal experience having been born in a family. We are born as family, with all its beauty and limits – a family that is the very concrete human reality where the art of life and love is learned. The family, we know well, is made of people – who love, speak, share and sacrifice themselves for other members of the family. We become a person living in a family, growing, usually with parents, and breathing the warmth of the home. It is in the family, in the home, that we are given a name and therefore an identity and a dignity; that we experience affection, that we cherish intimacy; that we learn to ask permission, ask forgiveness and give thanks. In the family we experience affection for the first time and enjoy the sense of ‘feeling at home’.
The family, all families throughout the world (while being different) are the first school for children, the group indispensable for giving the young a sense of belonging.
Sadly, however, we are also well aware that not all babies who are born have the good fortune of experiencing this.
The Salesian family, in all its diversity, is the family spirit and the family atmosphere, the very element of our being, of our identity. As part of this Salesian family, we have all this to share with the young people in our care.
It is based on Pope Francis’ Exhortation which speaks of the Joy of Love, love in the family and a deeply centred pastoral focus. It is a document that touches life, gives a word of encouragement to many people who need it. It emphases the positive and humanising aspects of love.
In the face of family realities in which complex and difficult situations are often lived, we ask ourselves whether we can do something in favour of these families, starting from our reality as educators and pastoral carers of the young: We can
- Exercise empathy in the face of the suffering caused by such situations.
- Help to build up relationships, to treat or heal the wounds; and in some situations we can help to overcome fears.
- Assist families to see that there can also be much good and generosity in their lives
- Teach that everyone is entitled to forgiveness and all are enabled to forgive
- Instil that limitations provide every member of the family an opportunity to become enriched by the love that is being offered and to make others rich with their own gift, aware that gratitude is the starting point for buildng the family.
- Promote communication with each other, within families and with our God
Our boys have the right to experience our ability to understand, to empathise, to appreciate their feelings, since having a deep and attractive family spirit is – and needs to continue to be – a special characteristic of ours.
This family spirit was fundamental and a guiding principle for Don Bosco, and it inspired him while he was beginning his work, dreaming about it, planning and sustaining it, so that love might always reign in it; in an atmosphere of openness and familiarity. A feature of this family spirit should also be “the qualities of genuine brotherhood, affection, open-hearted friendliness, accompanied by a simple, cordial and welcoming human approach”.
Our young people and their families need to be able to have the experience that Salesian College, which is part of a worldwide Salesian Family, is a place where life is cared for, their lives are cared for; a place where one can expect that the doors are always open and that awaiting them there is a civilised atmosphere of welcome (full of human feeling), on the most important and often most difficult occasions in life. They ought to feel, as Don Bosco would have ensured, that they are always well received and never judged or condemned. And this by the fact that even when it has to be said that something is not possible or cannot be allowed, the point is made with the greatest respect for the dignity of the individuals, and with a sense of fairness and justice. In this way we shall not fall short in what should be our distinguishing features as the Salesian Family in the world.
The family becomes a school that prepares for life when within it dialogue, communication and mutual understanding are taught and learned. When these values are being lived in the family, the children learn to listen, to converse, to share and to take an interest in whatever concerns their life together, the house and individuals. And we all know that being able to live together, to understand each other, to excuse and to forgive are attitudes that go together.
When such an atmosphere is fostered, the family becomes a place to live in which people look out for each other and think about what is best for the others who they respect and make allowances for their limitations. They learn different attitudes that may seem contradictory but which prepare them for life when they are adopted in harmony:
If we can assist to do this, we can help develop values such as:
- Freedom and responsibility
- Autonomy and solidarity
- Care for oneself and seeking the good of all
- Healthy competitiveness and a capability of forgiving
- Availability for communication and also for listening and respectful silence.
If we can offer all of this, family will offer a love that orientates, corrects, prevents, helps, heals and eventually saves.
Our mission, as part of the Salesian family, in the light of Don Bosco’s Preventative System is about:
Making the world a home like a large playground – of friends, of training for life, of encountering God.
Prayer to the Holy Family
Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
in you we contemplate
the splendour of true love;
to you we turn with trust.
Holy Family of Nazareth,
grant that our families too
may be places of communion and prayer,
authentic schools of the Gospel
and small domestic churches.
Holy Family of Nazareth,
may families never again experience
violence, rejection and division;
may all who have been hurt or scandalized
find ready comfort and healing.
Holy Family of Nazareth,
make us once more mindful
of the sacredness and inviolability of the family,
and its beauty in God’s plan.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
Graciously hear our prayer.
Mrs Nadia Knight
Assistant Principal – Faith and Mission