Dear Parents, Friends, Staff and Students of Caroline Chisholm College,
Last week, Ms Murray and I attended a meeting with the priests of the Diocese and we were so inspired by the words of our Bishop, Vincent, that we want to share them with you in this week’s newsletter. As you may recall, he was our companion pilgrim on our recent pilgrimage to the Holy Lands, and we got to know him as a man of deep integrity and an abiding optimism about our church. Last Wednesday, he characterised our Catholic schools as places where we are called to be with the poor and the marginalised, and to walk with and accompany the needy and the vulnerable. This echoes the teachings of Pope Francis who calls us to be a poor church, not a church of riches and power. In particular, Bishop Vincent challenged us as the church to "die to the old way of being that is clerical power, domination and become more focused on relationships and service”. This statement is precisely what the world needs to hear: a message of humility and peace that closes the gap between the old church and the people it serves. Bishop Vincent reminded us that the church belongs to all the baptised - not just the priests and bishops, and that all the baptised (you and me) must be engaged in the renewing of the church through acts of hope and love. This is a radical message from our leader, and it is a message which can illuminate a path for our young people who are yearning for meaning in their lives. I feel blessed by Bishop Vincent’s leadership of our Diocese of Parramatta. It is appropriate that his message was delivered between Pentecost, which marks the coming of God’s Holy Spirit and Trinity Sunday, which reminds of the mystery of God’s action in the world.
Even though our Year 12 students are working hard on their learning and preparing for assessments, they have begun to experience ‘the last’ events of their school days: their last Stage Mass, their last Athletics Carnival and their last Reflection Day. Our Reflection Day last Tuesday was a beautiful opportunity to express our gratitude for the gift of 13 years (or six years) of Catholic education. The students were encouraged to identify their own gifts, and to consider how these gifts will be at the service of their communities even when they finish school. Each year, the college and its students contribute over 7000 hours of community service. This in itself is a great achievement, but our true aim is to teach the girls the value of volunteering and working for justice so that, when they leave school, they still find meaningful ways of contributing to the health and justice of their communities. This is what it means to be an intentional disciple - not just because the college expects us to serve, but because we are called to serve through our Baptism.
Also, last Tuesday, we welcomed over 40 parents to our Parent Forum on the topic “Your Daughter’s Future”, where we discussed the world of employment and further education for our young people. Although some of the facts are a bit alarming (such as the ten year increasing trend in youth unemployment) the good news is that graduates from Caroline Chisholm College have an excellent record of entering university and finding employment in their chosen fields. The challenge is to ensure that your daughter develops the confidence and skills to be adaptable and ready to embrace a fast changing world. Mrs Dianne Mills, our Partnerships Manager and Careers Coach had the opportunity to introduce herself to the parents at the forum, and she received many and varied questions about pathways for our students. If you have a question, Dianne can be contacted at the college. She has written an introduction to her new and exciting role, included in this newsletter.
Our Gilmore House charity this term is the Luke Priddis Foundation supporting children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). There is still a great deal of misunderstanding in the community about ASD and how it affects young people. Did you know that girls with ASD can present with a very different range of behaviours and challenges compared to boys? For example, much of ASD in girls can be internalised as social anxiety, which can inhibit learning. We are pleased to partner with the Luke Priddis Foundation, because they are providing much needed family based support for kids with ASD. Let us commend their work our loving God.
A Prayer of St. Francis for Autism
by Tim Tucker
Lord, let your peace fill me up until I overflow;
that where people cannot speak, I may be their advocate;
that where anyone is rejected, I may extend my arms in welcome;
that where parents are heavy burdened, I may offer a word of comfort;
that where our children struggle, I may lift them up and cheer;
that where some see disability, I may reveal to them extraordinary gifts;
that where others judge, I may share with them my deep gladness;
and that where any are overlooked, I may help the lights of all to shine.
O Giver of These Gifts,
grant that I may not so much seek to be reassured as to reassure;
to be praised, as to praise;
to be accepted, as to accept;
for it is in all our uncertainty that we are inspired to hope;
it is in great challenges that we discover our greatest joys,
and it is in our community of wanderers that we find the way home.
Mr Greg Elliott