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  • Great Things to Celebrate  

    June 2010

    Even though, by the time these words reach Catholic Life, they will be “old news”, they are still news worth telling. 

    In the first week of May, we celebrated Catholic Education Week, a week in which schools were encouraged to showcase to the world themselves and their many great achievements. There were real highlights in that week. They demonstrated the vibrant health of Catholic Education in our diocese, the spirit that we foster and enjoy even in these challenging times of change.

    One of the great highlights was the Students’ Mass celebrated in our mother church, St Mary’s Cathedral, by Bishop Christopher Prowse. 

    Despite the fact that this was the first time such a Mass has been part of Catholic Education Week – and that it was arranged at quite short notice - it was a wonderful experience. Almost every one of our 34 primary schools and seven secondary colleges was represented. 

    The ceremony began after Bishop Christopher and the Cathedral Administrator Father Bernard Buckley had explained to the 300 students the significance of the Cathedral as our Mother Church and some of the history of this beautiful building. That was followed by a procession of the schools’ banners, carried with such obvious pride by the student leaders. 

    Bishop Christopher preached an uplifting homily in which he reminded students that they will always find, in God, a loving presence and powerful support if only they take the risk, like a person learning to swim, of taking the leap of faith. 

    At the end of Mass, Bishop Christopher congratulated all involved, remarking that, in his 30 years of celebrating Masses for schools, never had he experienced one so prayerful. 

    Special mention must be made of the Lavalla Choir that led the singing. They were truly beautiful. Not only did their singing offer praise and worship to God, but it reminded us all that we can and we should aspire to excellence. 

    Their singing was not just “okay”, it was magnificent. They showed us all that, even though Sale is the smallest of the four Victorian dioceses, our schools can – and do – produce excellence. We need to believe that every one of us from the smallest school to the largest can produce excellence, academically, artistically and spiritually. We should never be happy with just okay. The Lavalla choir showed us what can happen when we believe that “just okay is not okay”.

    After the Mass the mothers of St Mary’s Primary School in Sale provided a lunch for all present. Once again this was a magnificent task undertaken with generosity and much goodwill. 

    A second highlight, the annual Leadership Mass and Dinner, was a great and joyful celebration, enjoyed by all present.  One again, it highlighted that, here in the Diocese of Sale, we have professionals of the highest calibre.

    This year, the Mass was celebrated in St Patrick’s Church, Pakenham with the dinner following in the Cardinia Cultural Centre. Once again Bishop Christopher was the Chief Concelebrant, with nine other priests of the diocese assisting. 

    The Mass was uplifting indeed. At the end of Mass 50 long serving members of Catholic school and Catholic Education Office staff were rewarded 25 year service plaques, 11 in absentia and 39 presented on the night. These acknowledge the extraordinary contribution the recipients had made to Catholic Education over so many years. Again, it was an opportunity to highlight the dedication and commitment of so many to making the Kingdom of God come alive in so many young people’s lives over so many years.  

    The occasion also provided an opportunity to present awards for great performance. These included –  

    Archbishop D'Arcy Religion Prize

    Genevieve Hassett - Marist-Sion Warragul

    Jessica Winterton - Marist-Sion Warragul

    Simon Tatlow - Lavalla Catholic College, Traralgon

    Laura Ryan - St Peter's College, Cranbourne  

    Fr Joseph Flynn Scripture Prize

    Jordan Vong - St Francis Xavier College, Beaconsfield 

    Elizabeth Hunt Scholarship

    Katia Picinali – St Francis Xavier College, Beaconsfield.  

    Daniel Ahern Bursary

    Bronwyne Kent (Kalos) – St Laurence O’Toole Primary School, Leongatha

    Bronwyn Wallace– Columba Primary School, Bunyip 

    But once again, a real highlight was the presentation of the Living Witness Awards to four people nominated by their colleagues for the extraordinary contribution each one makes to the academic, spiritual and pastoral lives of their schools. This year the recipients were: 

    Bernadette Barlow – St Francis Xavier College, Beaconsfield

    CeCe Kingwill – Catholic College, Sale

    Adrian Mitchell – Marist Sion College, Warragul

    Joan Robertson – St Joseph’s Parish, Warragul 

    A very special moment came when each of our Living Witnesses was invited to respond. The responses were quite extraordinary, spoken with true humility yet with proper pride of their work. All four reflected on their deep love for their work, of the real love and respect they have for students with whom they worked and their appreciation for their colleagues and workmates. 

    They provided for us yet another  example of the excellence which we can and should all aspire. All four were truly inspirational. I am sure that all who were privileged to hear them speak will have returned to their work the next day richer for having heard them. I am sure too that such inspiration will have spilled over into their work, so that each person they touched in the days and weeks following would have been in turn, enriched.

    These two occasions gave us much of which we can be justly proud in our diocese. Yet, they represent, in their own way, what happens in every school every day. They reflected the reality of who we are and, at the same time, challenge us to be ever better at what we do, aiming always higher. 

    I am confident that every one of our 41 schools will have showcased their own excellence during Catholic Education Week 2010. At the same time, they will rise to accepting the challenge of, next year, having still greater things to show the world.