From the Principal
Welcome back to school! It is wonderful to see the students again. A particular welcome too for the new students who have joined from local schools, from our hinterland and some from interstate. We hope you are settling in well.
I had the great fortune to be present at the ordination of Deacon Tom Duncan last Thursday. Despite having a family peppered with Priests and Nuns this was a new experience for me. St Patrick's Cathedral was almost overflowing, there was a string ensemble and voice, and a full representation of schools, clergy, family and parishioners from places as far afield as Banyo to Miles. It was an incredible testament to the impact he has had on our Diocese.
Father Tom decided as a student at Marist Ashgrove that he wanted to be a priest. I do not want to rehearse here the specifics of his formation - but I want to speak of the fact that there was one, and it was definite, and purposeful, and it had impact.
As a P-12 College that is still growing, we have a wonderful opportunity to create and implement ways to 'form' young people. The example I have given above is not entirely representative. We cannot all be priests - in the same way that we cannot all be builders, or doctors, or farmers. What we can be - and what the College must aspire to create - is great people. It is my intention to create the type of environment where the everyday experiences at Mary MacKillop help to form the type of young adult we would all be proud to know.
A good Catholic school does not have the responsibility of simply producing Catholics. Rather, our role is to provide an education which entwines both faith and reason. Underpinning this is a need to support the needy, form and celebrate community, encourage effort for the common good and pursue learning and knowledge as a means to serve others, not as an end in itself. The intent of our work is to empower students to think of themselves as agents not dependents and further their social, emotional and spiritual well being.
Many of you attended 'established' Catholic schools across Australia and can speak with real authority and passion about how the charism and identity of those institutions helped to form you. I still hear it today, 'I was a Marist boy... I was a Mercy girl'. We are now in the privileged position of designing and deciding how the future generations of the Darling Downs will speak of our graduates - your children. We already have a rich tradition as a successful junior school. We are now establishing the next phase of that, with our first year twelve students graduating in 16 months time.
To support that formation, the College Leadership Team has initiated a number of processes. Very soon on the College website, you will see whole College policies on Formation and Teaching and Learning. Whilst it might seem counter-intuitive that a school would need policies on these, I am a big believer that structure liberates, and that the best way to ensure something happens in a big and growing organisation is to define expectations. Parents in the Junior School will have already noticed I hope a greater amount of collaboration between older and younger students, and we are also ensuring greater P-12 conversations in areas like science, literacy and numeracy.
We are also going to reintroduce into College life a much greater focus on the life, works, ministry and message of St Mary MacKillop. As a whole staff, we spent the last Friday of the semester reflecting on our journey so far as a College with a view to retaining or resurrecting the spiritual and structural things that we feel have supported the school to this point. There are many.
I am excited to have the opportunity to give voice to these at our celebration of St Mary MacKillop's Feast Day on 8 August. We will have a whole College mass at 9 am, and it would be so wonderful if you could attend. There will be many other events that day to celebrate the College; part of creating a proud tradition of formation and learning is taking the time to stop and properly celebrate.