Dear Parents, Friends, Staff and Students of Caroline Chisholm College,
The beautiful hymn “Amazing Grace” has one of the most encouraging lines I can think of in sacred music. We sing 'I once was lost, but now am found'. We don't sing 'I once was lost, but then I found my way' - we sing that we have been found by the God who loves us. What a powerful way to think of the role of God in our lives, if we are open to it.
At the assembly on Friday, I shared with the students how I had got lost several times on my way through Glenmore Park to get to my new school. I don't have a GPS in my car and I got lost. Our students are too young to know what a street directory is! I remember that using one was basically a two person job! It is so much easier now - I even have a watch that navigates for me. I think about how good it would be to have a map for the rest of my life, too, a way for me to get directions and avoid getting lost along the way. I have three children. How good would it be to know exactly which way to turn in order to be a good father? When I was choosing a career, it would have been great to know how to navigate to just the right training and employment. Even as a principal, I would love to know that the decisions I am making are leading in exactly the right direction . . .
The big one would be a map for adolescence - that tells young people which way to turn on the journey from childhood to adulthood. Many ancient cultures had a process of initiation which was like handing the young person a map for their life, showing them how people before them had found the best and most successful ways of being an adult, of relating to others and taking responsibility. These initiation ceremonies were vital to supporting the development of healthy families and societies, because there was a shared understanding of what it takes to be an adult. In our world we have lost this map - and young people often feel as though they are lost and directionless. They look to celebrities for clues about how to be successful, but this is ultimately unsatisfying and, at worst, very damaging.
Our faith in Jesus provides the map we need to help us move through the world and towards God, and yet so many young people feel as though they are all alone in their search for meaning and for their true identity, which can lead to wrong turns and the danger of becoming lost. In the Bible, it says that God loves us so much he will look for the lost, save them and bring them home. It's like the story of the lost sheep, with Jesus as the Good Shepherd.
For tens of thousands of years, the Aboriginal people of Australia followed their song lines through the landscape. These song lines led them to their resources and to safe havens. These traditions, along with strong initiation rituals, were violently interrupted when the British came and occupied this ancient land. During NAIDOC week each year, we remember the culture and heritage of our indigenous brothers and sisters. We can learn so much from their spirituality, with its sophisticated systems of guidance and meaning making.
This is the final newsletter before the winter break. Most of our Year 12s have only one assessment left before the HSC, so this upcoming break is their big chance to prepare and stretch themselves for the final push. For the rest of the students, many have recently taken home your reports, and you should be using those reports to work out what your next goal should be. In a way, the academic report is a map we can use to navigate the next steps in our learning journey. The end of the term is also a good opportunity for me to thank the teachers and support staff for all they do for our students. I am grateful every day for the professionalism and care of this community.
Our students and teachers in MacKillop House have led us in fundraising and education about the work of the Sisters of St Joseph these past few weeks, especially their support for Australia's first people. Let us pray for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as we, hopefully, move towards their recognition in our constitution.
Living God, draw us into unity.
Creator of all things,
both seen and unseen,
speak to us in your great wisdom.
Make us strong as we seek
your help and guidance.
Teach us to love all people
regardless of race or colour or belief.
May we listen with great care
to the heartbeat of this land
and to its people
who cared for it so well and for so long.
May the peace these people and their land have always enjoyed
continue to be strengthened and preserved
by all who wish to come and be part of this country
and its ‘Ancient Dreaming’.
Glory to you, God of Life,
Creating, nurturing, reconciling.
Glory to you forever.
Elizabeth Pike. http://www.natsicc.org.au/resources_liturgy.php
Mr Greg Elliott