In last Sunday’s Gospel, Luke’s narrative has Jesus on his way to Jerusalem. The message is advice for those struggling to hold on to faith in the turmoil of the later part of the first century. “Anyone who does not carry his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” 14:27. The temple of Jerusalem that grounded Jewish faith was gone, and the city in which it stood and through which Jesus had carried the tool of his own demise was destroyed. Faith could no longer have those familial physical manifestations. The people who sought to be followers of the Jesus movement could not rely on certainties of the past. This turmoil could even bring about the division of families and friends.
In our times the faith familiarities of the past also appear to be crumbling in. This week the Catholic Church accepted blame for the ongoing nature of the evil committed against victims of abuse, opening up the possibility of further compensation claims. Trust so broken is not lightly mended. The cross carried by those victims was not of their choice, and the announcement may be too late for many. One thing is certain. The unthinking and unquestioning and triumphant Catholicism of another age no longer holds sway.
The Plenary Council of the Catholic Church in Australia is in process. It is a dialogue being conducted all across Australia to discern ways of discipleship for future Church. The dialogues are taking place in local parishes and schools, and Damascus College will be inviting our community into the discussion. How can we take up the cross and the challenge of discipleship in the 21st century, a new paradigm for faith in our sunburnt country?
Parents of Year 12 students should receive a letter from the College before the end of term outlining a raft of information regarding end of year arrangements. If you do not receive this letter, could you please contact the College office.
Over recent years, House Leaders, led by TA Leader Sally Balson have facilitated a great social event for Damascus College Year 7 and 8 students. This year the event will take place on Friday night and is themed ‘Beach Party’. Families have received communication regarding this event. Drop-offs must occur between 7.00pm and 7.30pm. There will be no pass-outs throughout the evening and parents are required to collect students personally from the JSC at 9.00pm. Can I reiterate what is commonly known, but periodically needs to be restated-that parents please support one another by not hosting after-parties and not condoning any behaviour that encourages underage drinking or large antisocial gatherings of young people. If I revisit some of the advice given by parent educators Michael Carr–Gregg and Michael Grose; that it is natural for young people to challenge parents, but if you say no to requests you feel uncomfortable with, then you are actually reinforcing other parents with similar values to yourself by standing in solidarity with them. It will be a great night, and I know students are looking forward to it.
This week is a big week for student leadership for 2019. On Monday, six excellent candidates stood for election for School Captain, presenting a speech to all Year 10 and 11 students. It is with pleasure that I announce Hannah Mroczkowski and William Smith as the Damascus College School Captains for 2020. Hannah and William were popularly elected in a close contest by the current Year 11 students and staff. I congratulate all students who put their name forward. On Friday elections for House Captains will take place, and I again acknowledge all those students who have taken the risk of putting themselves forward for these important leadership roles.
Next Wednesday is a pivotal day in the College year as we celebrate Damascus Day Mass, and then the SRC have a big day of activities planned for the student population. This Mass is a celebration of our Catholic identity and as such is a compulsory day within the College calendar. Parents are encouraged to attend, and an invitation can be found here. We will gather for Mass at 10.30am. Over recent years we have taken a harder line on student attendance at whole school events, and this has resulted in a richer involvement of students on days such as Damascus Day and Sporting carnivals. It is not because the individual events on their own are critical to any students and their success, but collectively these involvements make up the complete experience of what a full Damascus College secondary education entails. The SRC has worked incredibly hard to make sure that the activities of Damascus Day are enjoyable for everyone and have created a ‘Once upon a time’ theme to frame the activities of the rest of the day.
If students are absent from community events like Damascus Day, parents are required to produce a formal written communication to myself outlining the full reason for the absence. If this does not happen or the reason is not considered to be in line with the College values, the student will not be eligible to attend formals, socials or other additional school offerings such as the Ski trip in the subsequent year. This is not a change of College direction; it is simply explicit about the importance of community life as a member of our College.
Students are required to be in full winter uniform on Wednesday for the Mass. If students have PE for lesson 1, they are required to bring a change.
All students will be provided with a BBQ lunch on the day, and TA’s have been working with students to determine those who may have special dietary requirements. In the afternoon students may change into casual clothes consistent with the ‘Once upon a time’ theme as part of the celebrations. It should be a great whole school event.
The turning circle near the JSC will be unavailable next Wednesday afternoon, so if you would typically collect your child from here, please ask them on Wednesday to meet you at an alternative location.
A small number of Senior students have shown interest in attending a Ballarat event on Friday 20th September at 12.00pm, titled ‘Ballarat Global strike for Climate’ (School Strike for Climate Change) to be held at Ballarat Trades Hall. This is a national movement driven by 5-18 year olds. If there is a discussion in your household about your student attending this event, the duty of care must be assumed by the family. Damascus cannot allow students to go without parental permission and supervision. Political activity needs to be supported by education, and this type of political education needs to be an individual family decision.
We further ask that any students wishing to attend this event, to please fill out the application form below and return to Mr Tony Haintz, Acting Deputy Principal, by Monday 16th September.
Climate Strike Application Form (673 KB)
Classes will proceed at school as scheduled, and it will be the responsibility of any students that are absent from class, to communicate with their teachers and catch up on any work missed. Finally, I will take the opportunity to promote the College’s Green Group which supports a range of environmental initiatives across the College including paper recycling, the development of our beautiful bushland and guidelines for responsible purchasing.
Can I also please ask that all 2020 Confirmation of Re-enrolments are to be completed and returned to the College no later than Friday September 13th.
This week we hold in our thoughts and prayers the Fletcher family – Aidan (Year 7) and Nicholas (Year 8) on the passing of their great grandmother.