Yesterday, I met with Fr Julio from Timor Leste, and it was his first ever trip to Australia. He grew up in the agricultural region of Ainaro, where our students visit and attend school as part of their immersion. I asked Fr Julio about his experiences here in the two days since he had arrived and he made comment about the scale of the buildings and how no one walks anywhere! He is in his first parish as parish priest on a Timor Leste island towards Indonesia. Julio talked about how the second church in his parish is about a 40-minute walk along the coast if the sea is not too rough or it is a bit over an hour if you need to go through the mountains. What a contrast our society must be with our use of technology, our infrastructure and our haste. To read more on Fr Julio please click here.
Julio’s visit coincided with the 33rd anniversary of the Balibo Five, men who were to report on the invasion of Timor by Indonesia. While there has never been an official acknowledgement of what transpired, men died in Timor trying to tell the story of the plight of the Timorese people. I had the chance to meet with our Year 12’s yesterday in the lead up to their last day, and I spoke to them of my hope that their Catholic Education at Damascus had equipped them to recognise injustice and stand against it. My hope is that our Christian foundation has played a part in their growth into the responsible global citizens of tomorrow. So this week we pray for our Year 12’s as they approach their final week of classes after 13 years of formal schooling. We pray for all those who speak against injustice and wrongdoing. We make this prayer of our loving God - Amen.
The annual art exhibition showcasing the work of senior students in Art, Photography, Media and Visual Communication opens tomorrow evening, Thursday from 6.00 - 8.00pm. It is a great opportunity for parents and the broader community to witness the portfolios and pieces developed by these students. This event provides another opportunity to witness the remarkable talent of the young people of the Damascus College community. Thank you to the Visual Arts staff for the work they put into bringing this event together. Check out more informaiton here.
The final day of classes for the Year 12 cohort of 2018 will take place next Wednesday 24th October. There will be a whole school assembly for parents and family members in the John Shannon Centre from 1.30pm. Please be conscious of the pressures of parking next Wednesday and allow adequate time to move to the stadium.
The completion of Year 12 can be a time of significant anxiety for families and school staff. Students have been made well aware that any damage to property, the character of any individual or the reputation of the College will result in seeking another venue for their final exams and exclude them from the graduation ceremonies. I believe that staff have worked well in consultation with our senior students regarding accepted forms of celebration which include breakfast on the final day of classes and an event after school, the whole school assembly and the Graduation Mass and Dinner. It is the Year 12 student celebration, and I would ask parents to talk with students at other levels to make sure that they act appropriately and present formally for this last assembly.
On Monday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison will make a National Apology to Victims and Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse. The Prime Minister will not only be saying sorry to the people for the hurt they have suffered, but he will also acknowledge and recognise their courage in telling their stories. These brave people were able to speak out and ask for help. It has meant that many of those who caused the harm have been brought to justice, and other children have been saved from harm. It has also helped us as a community to learn from the past so that we can do our very best not to let this happen again. As a school, we will pray for all those affected by the abuse. If the national apology causes distress at any level within your family unity, please access support through 1800 Respect - Call 1800 737 732 or Lifeline - Call 13 11 14.
Staff member Vicki Rowe has taken leave for the remainder of 2018; Sue Gordon will fill Vicki’s role – Sue has been a familiar face at Damascus throughout 2018. I wish Vicki well for her leave.
It was great on Saturday to welcome the incoming Year 7 students for 2019 to our testing morning. These new students were naturally both nervous and excited.
A reminder that next Thursday, 25th October is the second and final information evening for families seeking to enrol for Year 7 in 2020. The evening commences from 6.30pm in the John Shannon Centre.
There are two big events this coming Saturday, October 20th – the St Paul’s past students will be gathering from noon to 4 pm here at the College and there is a range of activities including an EBT display and a student basketball match. If you are a past student of St Paul’s and would like to come along, it would be great to see you.
On Saturday night there is an Energy Breakthrough (EBT) Dinner at Bray Raceway celebrating the past, current and future participation in EBT. This event also provides an opportunity to acknowledge Mark McLean’s great involvement in and leadership of the program.
This week is an exciting week for staff member Isabelle O’Dea and her fiancé Tim as they approach their wedding. On behalf of the entire Damascus community, we wish them every blessing.
Until next week…