For the past three days I had the privilege of attending a retreat at Mary MacKillop Place to journey through the life and times of Mary MacKillop (Australia’s first saint) and Fr Julian Tension Woods(the co-founder with St Mary of the Cross MacKillop of the Sisters of Saint Joseph). I was constantly reminded and reflected on their dreams to educate young children, and their complete faith in providence where they had a total trust that God would provide. Their vision has left a lasting legacy for Catholic education across Australia, especially South Australia and here at Nativity where the Josephites had a significant presence during the early days of the Aberfoyle Park Parish.
The words to belong as a community, show compassion in our actions toward others, be prepared to forgive, take time to be grateful, have the courage to handle challenging life situations and be just in our decisions and actions were recurring themes. The words belong, gratitude, forgiveness, compassion, courage and justice are our school values that we espouse as we deliver a faith based Catholic education for our students.
I am grateful, I was given this opportunity to have three days away from the hectic nature of school and family life to pray, to listen, to share with colleagues and to further my understanding of the influence of Julian Tension Woods and Mary MacKillop upon not only education but the context in which they lived. The experience stimulated my own thinking and vision for Nativity and Campus on who we are, what is the core to our existence and what we want to become, which is really our Mission, Values and Vision.
The students had the opportunity last week to reflect on these values and respond what it meant to them as a part of a whole school assembly, which has already been shared on the website. This has been part of a weekly activity for the classes during the Lenten period as we prepare for Holy Week and Easter.
Upon my return, I will circulate our renewed Vision, Values and Mission statement to all families and invite you to a personal reflection on our identity as a Catholic parish primary school working in a Campus context.
Both Mary MacKillop and Julian Tension Woods worked tirelessly and in many ways against the odds and through significant hardship, to see their dreams become a legacy for future generations. To me, we are being asked to have the courage, trust and faith to continue the legacy where all children have the opportunity to be educated for future prosperity and come to know God.
Mary’s words, “We are but travellers here”, speaks of the importance of understanding our past and the important role we play in spreading the word for future generations. May we all have the courage and humility to make this known.