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From the Principal
I extend a warm welcome back to all in the community for what is hope to be a very exciting Term 3. I hope that all staff and students were able to enjoy their break and take time to recharge their batteries after the tumultuous end to last term. I trust that all our senior students used the break to prepare for what is the downhill run for them as they enter into the last 13 weeks of their VCE. Term 3 is an extremely important academic period for all students but particularly so for the Year 12 students as they complete the last of their outcomes as well as prepare for exams. A theme they will hear repeatedly over the coming months is that ‘whilst they have completed close to two thirds of the school year, as far as time is concerned they still have two thirds of their marks up for grabs.’ This is the time to build on the platform they have laid.
There are a number of events in the coming weeks here at the College, beginning tonight with the final of the Mary McKertich Public Speaking Awards. I look forward to the boys presenting their final speeches and the chance to witness their talents. In a couple of weeks’ time the College Production of Seussical will take place in combination with the girls from Sacred Heart. The boys have been joining their female counter parts rehearsing feverously over the break to ensure they put on a great performance. The annual College Cross Country will be run on Friday and the boys in the senior years are undertaking subject selections for 2017, it is a very busy time. I thank all the staff and students involved in making these things happen and look forward to the positive outcomes.
It has been a very sad few weeks for both our community here at Salesian College and in the global community. As a community we are still dealing with the difficulties coming from the passing of our much loved staff member Mr Anthony Johnston and the passing of recent past student, Brian Tu, both of whom passed away suddenly in the last two weeks of Term 2. On top of all this we have the tragedy unfolding in France, where a man so filled with hate took it upon himself to run and gun down innocent men, women and children in the streets of Nice. Whilst in another part of the world we have the madness in America where Police officers are shooting civilians and in turn are being shot themselves. One couldn’t be blamed for thinking the world has gone crazy. All these events and incidents cause much sadness and grief and it is this I would like to reflect on this week.
Reflecting on these events has lead me to a few different thoughts I believe worth pondering. The thing I have taken from the tragic events of this week is how fortunate we are here in Australia. We live in ignorant bliss in many ways, unaware of the terrible lives others live out on a daily basis. Whilst this is a true blessing I think we have to remind ourselves regularly not to take this for granted. We also have to be careful not to allow ourselves to get caught up in some of the rhetoric some of our leaders drag out every time we have such an incident in the world. The promotion of distrust, of ignorance and in cases the hatred surrounding Islam and Muslims is not helpful to anyone. We must also be mindful of not allowing isolated incidents or events to drag us into a negative mindset. I know I have been guilty in the past of allowing myself to get caught up in negative thinking about the trials I confront on a daily basis. Whilst our lives do have challenges I try and remind myself to put these into perspective especially when we hear of the atrocities occurring around the world. With this in mind I encourage all in the community to say a prayer for all those people suffering in war-torn countries and while we are at it say a prayer of thanksgiving for the wonderful privileged life we live here in Australia.
The second thing I reflected on was grief and how we deal with it given the circumstances we find ourselves in at the moment. My reflection came after reading a blog by Erin Coriell where she spoke of the tendency here in the West, to place a time stamp on grief and the unspoken expectation that after some time, one will simply get on with life. A concept she believes is unhelpful, having negative outcomes for our culture. She believes that if we are unable to grieve in community, it is nearly impossible for individuals to heal fully. Grief demands to be heard, from all beings. This grieving thing makes us human, it is what unites us all at our core. Her blog reminded me that whilst we all grieve together we all grieve differently and must give ourselves permission to do so. We need to do what works for us for as long as it takes us.
In the pits of grief, it is the support of individuals around us that keep us afloat. No one “quick-fix” or even the “right thing to say”. It is our willingness to listen and be present which makes the difference. The College has received messages of support, flowers and bereavement cards from many in the wider Catholic community all of which have helped, just knowing there are people out there thinking of us in our time of need. This has meant the world to the community, because not only did it validate our grief, but it provided a collective honoring of someone who was much loved. This type of experience can be a game changer in grief. A powerful shift can occur when grief is validated. Grief is a song that deserves to be heard, and perhaps shouted from the rooftops.
Though a highly personal experience, grief also requires to be felt in the company of other grief. It is almost indescribable the way grief shifts in the moment it is expressed out loud. In that brief encounter, one’s grief becomes the world’s grief. Although pain-staking and lonely, grief is an invisible thread that connects all of our hearts. It has the power to redefine humanity. We are comforted also in the knowledge that our God is aware of our need to grieve and mourn and says that we hold a special place with him. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).
For Christians, death should come as a welcome release from the trials of this life and no matter who we are or how many material possessions we have the trials are there. The truth is, Christian or not, death is that “something” ahead of us that often fills many of us with dread. We will struggle and strive and do whatever we can to put off this natural end of things for as long as possible. Modern science has made great contributions in our battle against illness and disease, but that inevitable day finally comes when all physical intercession comes to an end and we set out on that final journey.
“For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”– Romans 8:38-39
We firmly believe, and hence we hope that, just as Christ is truly risen from the dead and lives for ever, so after death the righteous will live for ever with the risen Christ and he will raise them up on the last day.534 Our resurrection, like his own, will be the work of the Most Holy Trinity: By his death and Resurrection, Jesus Christ has “opened” heaven to us. The life of the blessed consists in the full and perfect possession of the fruits of the redemption accomplished by Christ. He makes partners in his heavenly glorification those who have believed in him and remained faithful to his will. Heaven is the blessed community of all who are perfectly incorporated into Christ.
God bless all in the community, may those suffering ill health, loneliness or isolation be comforted by the Holy Spirit and may all of us be present to those around us who need our thought, prayers or our company.
Mr Robert Brennan