From the Assistant Principals
Posted: 05-Feb-2020

Welcome Back to 2020

Welcome back to all families for the continuation of our 2020 academic year. I was lucky enough to have an extended family holiday in Lorne which provided an opportunity to recharge after a hectic and very rewarding year. I am hoping that many of you got to enjoy the same opportunity. I would especially like to welcome new families to our Damascus College community and pray that your time with us is a rich and rewarding experience for your whole family. It is always exciting to see year 7 students commence their journey at Damascus. I particularly enjoy seeing sibling support as they offer advice to brothers/sister in how to use combination locks, organising lockers, carrying text books, finding classrooms….. One of these moments was captured as Maddie Mansfield diligently offered support (on her day off), to her brother Jack as pictured below:-

It was horrific to see the many communities that were affected by bushfires over this period, with the spread of this trauma reaching our Damascus College community. Our thoughts and prayers are with those who have been directly or indirectly impacted by by the fires. I remind families that our two school Councillors; Marcus, Jess and our House Leaders can provide assistance to students who require any form of support as a result of the fires. There has also been an extensive amount of literature that has been forwarded to school that parents can access to reassure your son/daughter.

Click here to read a document prepared by the Australian Psychological society addresses techniques for students who fear the threat of bushfires, while the NSW Government article here,  summarises options for looking after your mental health during and after bushfires. It was also timely that last week all Damascus College staff worked through processes and protocols associated with emergencies. The SRC are working towards a whole school fund raiser to support the St Vincent de Paul society bushfire appeal. More information to come!

Over the remainder of the week I have the privilege of being one of the support staff on the year 12 retreat. This is often referred to as one of the highlights of the year 12 journey as students continue their formation of a class group within the Christian context. A successful year 12 relies on trust, positive relationships, peer support and a positive mindset-all which are addressed on this retreat. I wish all students a wonderful experience and thank Adrian Newman and Tony Haintz for their preparation.

Written by Mr. Andrew Robertson - Assistant Principal Student Wellbeing

Walking Humbly with Jesus

In 2019 we focussed on Jesus’ question that appears in various forms in all of the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke): But who do you say that I am? Denis Edwards, Australia’s eminent Catholic eco-theologian, died unexpectedly early in 2019. Posthumously, his book Deep Incarnation has been published. Fr. Denis captures a profound understanding of who Jesus is as the Word made flesh that dwells among us. “In the Word made flesh, God embraces the whole of life on Earth, with all its evolutionary processes, in an event that is both a radical identification in love and an unbreakable promise.” The radical embrace of the divine in Jesus remains our inspiration in 2020.

Our theme for this year speaks of God and love and humility and justice. It comes from the 7th Century BC Hebrew prophecy of Micah: “Do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God” 6:8. It is a concise response to the question of what is required of human beings. For us, this is marked by the Word made Flesh, Jesus and his way of cross and resurrection. In the words of the Damascus College strategic goals: we are called to personal and community responses to God's call in today's world expressed as social justice. Pope Francis has put it this way: “What is being asked of us [the Church] today is a new presence in the world, conformed to the cross of Christ, one that takes concrete shape in service to the men and women of our time.” —Pope Francis, letter to US bishops, 1 January 2019. Walking humbly with God we will hear the cry of the poor and the cry of the earth and act justly and with mercy. Pope Francis constantly calls us to move beyond the security of status quo and take the risk of going to the periphery. The church must be the church of the poor. The church must go out of itself in order to be close to those in need.

The students depicted in the theme poster for this year are on the Christian Personal Development Award “Knowing Our Neighbours - Melbourne Experience”. On this day students experience the vulnerability of city life and meet those who make a difference in the lives of those who are struggling. The Catholic community plays a significant role supporting the social, spiritual and physical needs of our nation.

The students pictured are at a Church named for the same saint chosen by the current pope for his pontificate, St Francis of Assisi. Built between 1841 and 1845, St Francis’ is the oldest Catholic Church in Victoria and the first cathedral church of the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne. In the chapel containing a statue of the patron of Australia, Our Lady Help of Christians, the students humbly ponder the cry of the poor and the call to action for justice made possible on the journey walked in faith in Christ. St Francis of Assisi felt called to renew the Church and founded an order of religious for the task. Pope Francis is also calling for renewal of the Church built on the humility that is prayer and the cross.

Written by Mr. Tony Haintz - Assistant Principal Catholic School Culture

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