As I write for the final time in 2021, I can’t help but think how much of a roller coaster ride we have all been on. We began the year thinking (perhaps naïvely) that we were “post COVID”, only to head very quickly into lockdown 3, followed of course by 4, 5 and 6. I am in awe of students and staff who managed multiple challenges and I know that each family carries its own personal lockdown story. Being back on site has been delightful; students have not taken long to come out of their lockdown shells and the corridors and courtyards are once again filled with chatter and laughter.
Perhaps the only thing that has marred our reopening are the disturbing images in our newspapers and on television of division and unrest. Staff and students have reported disbelief and distress at these scenes, and concern for what our future holds. One commentator spoke about “the death of listening” which reminded me of the following quote: “The biggest communication problem is that we do not listen to understand. We listen to reply.”
As educators, we hold the keys to building a future where people of different cultures, faiths and political beliefs can coexist in an environment of mutual respect. Diversity is our greatest strength. While we may vigorously disagree with someone, ideas should never come before respect for the intrinsic value of human life. We must heed the many tragic lessons from history.
During Term 4, we have been incredibly lucky to reschedule events that in past months we did not think we would be able to hold. These included farewelling our Class of 2021 at Valedictory last week and welcoming our 2022 Year 7s with an Orientation Day yesterday. In addition, our 2022 Year 12 cohort gathered last Friday for a formation day planned by Mission Identity Leader, Mr Matthew van der Velden and facilitated by musician and songwriter Gen Bryant. Students were asked to reflect on what it means to live a prophetic life. They spoke of justice and challenge, they reflected on contemporary women who have been catalysts for change, and they shared their vision for our community. Their excitement at finally being together, having finished exams and now looking towards Year 12 was palpable. These are events that take much planning and my thanks must go to all staff who were involved.
Finally, we will farewell some long-term staff at the end of the year, including Collette Bond who is taking up a position as Head of Campus at St Francis Xavier, Berwick. We wish Collette the best in her new position and thank her for her contribution to Mater Christi.
My own thanks must go to the wonderful Mater Christi Community who have made me feel incredibly welcome this year. I hope the remainder of the year is grace-filled.
Maria Haggett - Educator, Principal