Richard Rohr describes the profound intimacy of our breath and the holy. To breathe is to experience the Divine...the ruah of God: “A rabbi taught this prayer to me many years ago. The Jews did not speak God’s name but breathed it with an open mouth and throat: inhale-Yah; exhale-weh. By our very breathing, we are speaking the name of God and participating in God’s breath. This is our first and our last word as we enter and leave the world (Rohr, On Being, p.65).”
Perhaps nothing connects us more intimately than our breath. All mammalian life depends upon it and the exchange we have with our breathing green planet. With the average person taking an average of 20,000 breaths each day this subconscious activity can be easy to forget – until we can’t do it anymore. Then it becomes a symbol of life itself.
Director of Marist Mission and Life
Our Marist theme for 2021 ‘“Breathe: the Spirit of Life” utilises the powerful images from scripture that initiates breath as the source of life. The Book of Genesis describes God breathing life into human beings, the ‘breath of life’ to make them ‘living beings’ (Gen 2:7). Breath is also used to express the presence of God. Elijah experiences God in the sound of the gentle breeze of a ‘Gentle breath’ (1 Kings 19:12). We are also reminded that at Pentecost, Jesus breathed on the disciples saying “Receive the Holy Spirit’. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit who gives life. It unites and connects, pervades all that is and dwells in every human creature and calls us into a relationship with the Divine (Laudato Si, 88).
We are challenged by Pope Francis’ invitation to become more consciously guardians of creation, as well as our brothers and sisters in humanity. The moment has never been so urgent to take care of our planet and each other as we face together the looming challenges of not only the pandemic but also our environmental concerns. Our Marist theme calls us to be attentive to the spirit of life in discerning our way forward to be a source of fresh air and life as a Church for the world. We seek opportunities for us to invite the Spirit of Jesus to enliven, energise, empower and unite us: The Spirit of the Lord is Upon us! (Luke 4:18). Let us give thanks that we have been breathed to life by the great author of life “The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life” (Job 33:4).
The passage above is a heavily redacted version of our theme introduction provided by Anthony Clarke, Director of Marist Mission and Life. As we come to the end of another busy term at St Patrick’s Marist College, we are provided with the opportune time to rest, recuperate and breathe.
Pope Francis’ call to action in regards to our environmental concerns was solidified in his seven year action plan for the implementation of Laudato Si. St Patrick’s Marist will be active participants in the implementation of this action plan and are looking forward to our community being responsible for the care and protection of our environment and the people we share it with. Specific details on this action plan are included below. With the winter holidays beginning this week, this break allows time for rest and reflection on the many achievements and challenges of semester 1. ‘We do these things not because they are easy but because they are hard, because that will serve to organise and measure the best of our energies and skills”. (John F Kennedy, 1962). The challenges that we face always lead to the greatest areas of opportunity for growth in each and every one of us. We certainly hope that the staff, students and families of St Patrick’s Marist enjoy this break.
Laudato Si Action Plan
On 25 May, Pope Francis launched a seven-year Laudato si’ action plan to implement environmental sustainability across various sectors of the Church including Catholic schools. The plan focuses on seven sectors: families, parishes, schools, hospitals, businesses, organisations and religious orders. The Pope said "our selfishness, our indifference and our irresponsible ways are threatening the future of our children".
“I therefore renew my appeal: let us take care of our mother Earth... let us overcome the temptation of selfishness that makes us predators of resources, let us cultivate respect for the gifts of the Earth and creation, let us inaugurate a lifestyle and a society that is finally eco-sustainable,” he said in a video message.
“We have the opportunity to prepare a better tomorrow for all. From God's hands we have received a garden, we cannot leave a desert to our children."
“On a journey that will last for seven years, we will let ourselves be guided by the seven aims of Laudato si’, which will show us the direction while we pursue the vision of integral ecology.
“There is hope. We can all collaborate, each one with his own culture and experience, each one with her own initiatives and capacities, so that our mother Earth may be restored to her original beauty and creation may once again shine according to God’s plan,” Pope Francis said.
Year 12 Retreat
Year 12 had a great week away on their retreat where we were able to celebrate another important milestone in the journey of a year 12 student at St Patrick’s. A different time of year for us, but still a great time away with our students. Even when the temperature was -3 with a wind chill that made it feel like -7! We were very fortunate to be able to take our year 12 students to the spiritual home of Marists in Australia, the Hermitage Mittagong. Postponed from term 4 2020, the retreat provides a wonderful time in a year 12 student’s life at St Patrick’s where the space is provided for them to simply ‘be’, breathe and spend time with their friends. One message that is repeated over their time away is that this will be one of the few times in their life they will have an experience like this. It is always a privilege to spend this time away with our students and your children. It is important to give thanks to the students who participated in this retreat experience but also allowed us to accompany them on this journey.
My thanks to the staff who attended the retreat- for not only being present with the students on their short retreat journey, but for their help and support in organising the week. A special thanks to Mr Moussa for his dedicated preparation, planning and organisation of the retreat. His contribution was invaluable. To Madame Dunston - a huge thank you for her extensive planning and accommodation of the students. We look forward to sharing this journey in November with our Year 12 cohort or 2022.
Year 12 Formal
In what has been a busy couple of weeks for our year 12 students, it was a joyous occasion that we could gather with the students of Year 12 to celebrate their formal at Curzon Hall. This was a new venue, and judging by the reception of the students, it was warmly received. I mentioned previously about the privilege we have as educators to be able to accompany students through their last year of schooling. This is another of those rewarding occasions where their growth over the previous 6 years of schooling culminates in not only their formal but all of the other events throughout year 12. I would like to commend the students on their behaviour on the night and for their organisation of the evening. It was one of the most well attended dance floors I have seen in my time at St Patrick’s and it was fantastic to see many students enjoying their evening together. Again, our thanks to Madame Dunston for leading and organising the formal for this year, and to her many helpers such as Mr Moussa, and the year 12 pastoral team for their preparation for the evening. It certainly was a fantastic evening.
Staff Formation Day 12th July
A reminder that the first day of term 3 will be a pupil free day here at the College. Staff will be travelling to the Hermitage at Mittagong for our annual staff formation day. Normal classes will resume on Tuesday the 13th July.
St Vincent de Paul Sandwich Making
An initiative taken up this term by our Junior school leaders has been another wonderful opportunity for our students to engage in social justice. Each week, up to 10 students make over 80 sandwiches that are used by the ‘Vinnies’ van throughout western Sydney on a Wednesday night to feed the homeless and less fortunate. We are grateful to SVDP for the opportunity to continue to serve our larger community. We also have our senior students attending our first Vinnies Van night patrol these holidays. We look forward to sharing our experiences of this service with you all.
Student Leadership 2022
When students are given the opportunity to actively participate in their education, they are happier and feel that teachers, other students and the wider school community value their opinions. The establishment of a Student Representative Council (SRC) enables this vision to be realised within the school. At St Patrick’s Marist College, the SRC is a group of students elected by their peers to represent the best interests of the student body and be their voice to make St. Patrick’s Marist College a better school.
Our SRC aims to liaise with the school community to collect relevant information, make decisions and implement actions in order to improve all aspects of the community that is St Patrick’s Marist College.
Students in Year 11 are reminded that as we come to the beginning of term 3, all students are encouraged to nominate for one of the upcoming leadership positions for 2022. There are a variety of leadership opportunities for students in Senior school either at College, House, Ministry, Academic or Sport levels. These roles enable students to gain valuable leadership experience, grow in confidence and become responsible citizens and positive role models for others within our College and wider community. The process for nomination and election will begin in week one of term 3. The leadership positions are listed below:
- School Captains x 2
- School Vice Captains x 2
- House Captains x 12 (2 Per house)
- Prefects (10 Maximum - Note this does not mean 10 have to be selected. This number indicates the maximum number of prefects for any one year.)
NOTE: A Student can nominate for a House Captain or Prefect AND School Captain. A student may also choose to simply nominate for just the position of House Captain or Prefect.
College Walkathon 13th August
Another highlight of previous College years as been the annual Walkathon. We will again participate in this for 2021. Since 2014, the community of St Patrick’s has raised in excess of $100000 to build and support our sister school in Tricky, India. We would all be aware of the struggles that India has gone through over the past 18 months as a result of COVID. Once again we are aiming to raise money to enable the primary school to continue to support the members of the community who already have limited access to education. We are also cognisant of the needs of our local community who have also been met with challenges brought on by COVID. Part of the money raised will also be used to help support the members of our local community.
The theme for 2021 selected by our College Leaders is 'Walk Disney'. Students on this day are encouraged to bring in their costumes and dress up as their favourite character from the Disney world. Students will receive their walkathon donation cards this week so they can collect over the holidays. There will be fantastic prizes for students who raise over $40 and more. Also, we will have prizes on the day for best dressed. It is a great day of community at St Pat’s and we are looking forward to having it again this year. More details will be shared with you over the coming weeks.
Lastly, to our Year 12 students.
We begin in earnest your last term of formal schooling. Whilst there will be a mix of exams and final assessments, allow yourself time to ‘breathe’ and enjoy the lasts of being a student at St Patrick’s. Your journey as a student at St Patrick’s will finish soon, but you will always be a part of our community.