Out of school hours care for children in the Blue Mountains has been given a boost with the opening of a new centre in Springwood.
In early March, a Catholic Out of School Hours Care (COSHC) centre was opened and blessed by Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta, at St Thomas Aquinas Primary School, Springwood.
The Springwood centre is joined in its service to the Mountains by centres at St Finbar’s Primary School, Glenbrook, Our Lady of the Nativity Primary School, Lawson, and Our Lady of the Way Primary School, Emu Plains. It becomes part of a network of 32 early years education and care services across Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains.
Accompanying Bishop Vincent during the ceremony were Fr Paul Slyney, parish priest, St Thomas Aquinas Parish, Springwood, Marina Hardy, Principal, Genevieve Smith, Assistant Principal, Teresa Beard, COSHC Area Coordinator, Kelly Travers, Service Lead Coordinator of the service at Springwood and Anthony Goonan, Chief Executive Officer, Catholic Diocese of Parramatta Services Limited (CDPSL).
“This is the first new service that we have launched in quite some time in the Diocese, so it gives me great pleasure to ask Bishop Vincent to come and bless this Catholic out of school hours care service,” Mr Goonan said during the ceremony.
“It’s lovely to be able to provide care to these children which is a little different to what happens at school. It’s about experiential, play-based education where they learn to support themselves, each other and their own personal development and social interaction.”
A group of around twenty students were attentive and respectful during the opening ceremony, with Bishop Vincent calling on the children to assist him with reading prayers during the dedication.
Bishop Vincent told the students that he hopes the centre will be a place of growth and care for themselves, their families and the staff.
“This place will be a place of love, of mutual care and support. COSHC is about outreach and about caring for children and their families. In doing so, we carry out the command of Jesus.
“Let us pray that this place will always be a place of friendship, of safety, of spiritual, wholesome growth for all.
“We dedicate this building to the education of youth, to the progress of the sciences, and to learning. May it become a centre where students and teachers, imbued with the words of truth, will search for the wisdom that guides the Christian life and strive wholeheartedly to stand by Christ as their teacher,” Bishop Vincent said.
Bishop Vincent then joined the children for a celebratory afternoon tea.
The Blue Mountains has also been blessed with another new COSHC centre at Our Lady of the Nativity Primary School, Lawson, which also began operation in Term One 2020. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, a small dedication ceremony will be held in the near future.
Catholic Diocese of Parramatta Services Limited (CDPSL) has responsibility for the Diocese of Parramatta’s extensive network of Catholic Out of School Hours Care Centres and Catholic Early Learning Centres.