Just recently when fossicking through some notebooks that I have scribbled down sayings and the like in, I came across a couple of quotes that I believe is a good insight into life and the upcoming Season of Advent which runs from this Sunday 29 November until Christmas Eve:
“Life is not about being better than someone else. It is about striving to be better than you used to be.” Author Unknown.
St Augustine had another good insight when he wrote: “When people choose to withdraw far from a fire, the fire continues to give warmth, but they grow cold. When people choose to withdraw far from the light, the light continues to be bright in itself but they are in darkness. This is also the case when people withdraw from God.”
Withdrawing from God is something we all do, not out of disbelief necessarily, but mostly out of forgetfulness, because we are just too busy with the rest of life. Take for example the Bethlehem Innkeeper who told Mary and Joseph that there was no room for them in his inn. This did not mean that he was a bad person; he was just very busy taking care of his customers, providing for their needs and keeping the peace. Unfortunately, when the most important birth in history took place in his backyard, he missed it entirely, not because he was a bad person, he was just too busy.
With Christmas just around the corner, we too might be too busy to give attention to what we are celebrating. Those who live by the cash register, will do everything they can to keep our attention on our wallets and purses, suggesting that by spending money we are not only supporting the economy bust also leading us to believe that the more money we spend on gifts we purchase the more we actually care about the gift receiver. The Three Wise Men seem to have had the true understanding of the Christmas event. They spent many weeks in anticipation as they travelled from their homeland to Bethlehem. When they arrived, their purpose was to honour the newborn child and out of courtesy they brought one gift each.
Like the Three Wise Men, we too, have the opportunity to participate in this period of anticipation in the Season of Advent. Advent invites us to prepare for the commemoration of God’s coming by taking time to have a closer look inside ourselves away from the busy outside. This looking inside is not about remorse or regret, nor about listing ways life over the past year could have been different; it’s not about wishing we were better people. It’s about forward movement, getting new bearings, relying more on God for directions. It’s about a fresh start, getting closer to the “fire” and the “light” that are God’s love and compassion.
On behalf of the St Joseph’s College community I would like to wish you all a happy, safe and holy Christmas break. I do hope that our community members will open their hearts to the true meaning of Christmas and take time to reflect and give thanks for what we are so privileged to be part of, even in this so very challenging year. Please take care of each other, travel safely and take appropriate breaks. We look forward to our community returning refreshed and ready for an exciting 2021 as we continue to work together to provide the best opportunities for our students to develop into outstanding members of society.
Finalisation of the Year
Over the last few weeks, we have held a number of events to mark the finalisation of our year. This included last week’s Valedictory Dinner for our Year 12 students which was a lovely evening of celebration and the last compulsory schooling event in these young people’s lives. To witness the Year 12 students arrive and depart this event in their school uniforms with their parents, as they would have done on their first day of school 13 years prior, was so fitting and appropriate. Congratulations Year 12 students and parents and thank you for your contribution to the St Joseph’s College community. Thank you also to all involved in organising this wonderful event for our senior students.
This week we pray for a final prayer for our Graduates.
Prayer for Graduates
Surround those who are graduating with your grace.
Bless them with hope so that they move into the future with eager and open hearts.
Help them to put the knowledge, skills, and insights gained through their education
To use for the good of all humankind.
Inspire them to believe in the goodness of life even when faced with challenges and difficulties.
As they commence with their lives, may the grow ever more grateful and wise.
All of this we ask in the name of Jesus, your beloved Son.
Congratulations to the students who received awards at our Presentation Assembly this morning. While the assembly obviously differed from an official Presentation Night it was still a great celebration of the year that has been. Events like this do not just happen, and again, it is a testament to the amazing efforts that our staff and students put in outside of our core business of teaching and learning. Without naming individuals for fear of missing someone, I would like to offer a great vote of thanks to all involved in the organisation of this event.
With the end of each school year comes the inevitable staff farewells and offering of thanks to others whose role may be changing at the school. These changes can be both quite sad and exciting as it brings new opportunities and possible adventures for those departing or changing roles. In our final newsletter for the year I would like to take the opportunity to thank these people on behalf of our community.
In a previous newsletter when I outlined the roles and names of the members of the College Leadership Team for 2021, I thanked Mrs Stead, Mrs Nunn and Miss Skinner for their service to the College as Middle Leaders. I would like again to offer this vote of thanks and in doing so I would like to add Mr Gehrmann to this list as he is stepping down from the Rice House Leader position for family reasons, and Mrs Nicole Davies who is stepping down from Science Curriculum Leader position. I thank you on behalf of the community for the wonderful contributions you have made as middle leaders of St Joseph’s College. Your energy, enthusiasm, commitment, leadership and passion for your subjects and house has been greatly appreciated. The St Joseph’s College community has been very fortunate to have you serve them as middle leaders and we look forward to you continuing in teaching roles in 2021.
To Miss Durack, Miss Unsworth, Mrs Cockfield, Mrs Clark, Mr Stokes and Mrs Cryle who are moving on from St Joseph’s College to new schools or completing contracts at St Joseph’s College. Thank you all so very much for your efforts in supporting your students on their learning journey. I know that our students are better people for having you as a teacher. We wish you all the best.
To our departing school officers, Mrs Annetts, Mrs Flemming, Mr Martin and Mrs Lanagan we thank you so very much. School officers are so very often the forgotten champions of our schools. Without competent and committed school officers, schools do not function. These people so very often go well above and beyond their roles and duties because of their genuine love and care for the students and we thank you so very much and wish you all the best for the future.
Lastly, but certainly not least of all I would like to offer a wholehearted thank you to three very special long serving staff members of St Joseph’s College.
To Mrs Rasmussen who is stepping down from the Assistant Principal Faith and Mission role and taking leave for Semester One 2021 before making a decision on her future.
To Ms Fabiana Wilson who is stepping down from the Careers role and like Mrs Rasmussen is taking leave early next year before making a decision on her future.
To Mr Scott Edwards who stepped down from the Rice House Leader position mid-year and now has officially notified the College of his intention to retire from full-time teaching.
It has become very apparent to me as a new staff member as I sought out information on the contributions that the above three people have made to St Joseph’s College that no number of words can describe the commitment, generosity and selflessness that you have demonstrated over your time at not only St Joseph’s College but your full career.
You have had an immense impact upon the history and current practices across all facets of St Joseph’s College life and you have inspired, cared for and moulded generations of current and past students of our College.
Congratulations on all you have achieved during your time at St Joseph’s College. We wish you the best of health, a well-deserved break and we look forward to seeing you in the future.