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  • Making Present the Kingdom of God 

    As the new Director of Catholic Education in the Diocese of Sale, the month of November has been a very busy one and December is shaping up to be equally so. Over recent weeks I have been visiting several schools in the diocese for a range of reasons – School Renewal follow up, Blessings and Openings of buildings, Presentation and Awards evenings and occasionally just to visit.  Several things have been evident during these visits and special occasions. Firstly, there is great diversity amongst our schools. This diversity is experienced in the size, shape, environment and demographics of each of the locations. Student and staff profiles vary greatly from place to place and have an impact on which particular educational program or endeavour has priority or specific focus. Having been in the business of visiting a large number of schools over the last 18 years for a variety of reasons, I have become attuned to the differing nuances of school life and to picking up rather quickly where the strengths and weaknesses, joys and challenges exist within each setting.

    Arriving at a school and, as is often the case with me, looking lost and a bit confused trying to find the main office, I have been struck by the number of times I have been approached by a staff member, parent or student offering help. The sense of hospitality this invariably conveys is a great starting point for any visit. On the occasions when I have had to ask for assistance I have also found that students in particular have been willing to leave their companions and instead of just pointing towards a door have accompanied me to the exact spot.

    Walking into the reception area of any school gives the next clear message of what is important in this particular school community. For some it is their history, for others their future. For all of the ones I have visited to date there is a strong sense of a Catholic community proud of their particular identity, grounded in a commitment to follow the teachings and actions of Christ. This has been evidenced by the obviously carefully chosen pieces of art and iconography, vision and mission statements and student art everywhere on display. Visitors and prospective parents and students are left in no doubt that these are Catholic schools. I have personally felt an enormous sense of pride as well as good fortune to be associated with this vibrant community of schools in the Sale Diocese.

    Some recent Awards nights at Catholic Secondary Colleges in the Diocese have left me with a sense of great confidence in the young people who are leaving our schools to go out into a world that is far more complex than the world many of us entered when we left school. The joy, spirit, confidence, talent and goodness that I have both witnessed and felt at these events have been exceptional. When I consider that many of these young people will have the opportunity to take up significant leadership of our cities, State and country I feel confident that the grounding they have received in Christian principles and ethics will stand us all in good stead in the years ahead.

    In the Director’s message on the Catholic Education Office website the following passage occurs and sums up my recent experiences:

    Yet clearly we are all about the same thing – making present the Kingdom of God to our communities, providing students with the opportunity to grow in the love of God and develop a respectful knowledge of their world in an atmosphere of peace, joy, hope, justice and love. 

    As we enter the season of Advent on the journey to Christmas I take this opportunity to wish all associated with and interested in Catholic education in the Diocese of Sale a safe and joyous Christmas.