New Ambrose services ‘centred in Christ’

By Mary Brazell, 25 June 2024
An educator interacts with a student at the Ambrose School Aged Care Service at St Monica's Primary School, Richmond in March 2024. Image: Diocese of Parramatta


The recent opening of six new Ambrose School Aged Care services across Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains is providing much-needed support for working families and an opportunity for children to learn and grow.

In Term 1 and early Term 2, these services were officially blessed and opened by Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta, alongside his Vicars General Fr Peter Williams AM and Fr Fernando Montano, celebrating the connection of the Diocese, Community Ventures, school and local parish communities.

Addressing the community at St Canice’s Primary School, Katoomba, Fr Fernando stressed the importance of Christ being the foundation of the service.

“We celebrate this blessing to acknowledge that we are doing this for a reason – to bring the message of Christ to children in our care.

“This message may take many shapes and forms – for the children, it might be a good time playing at the Ambrose service, or it might be a great moment of prayer or explanation about our faith.

Vicar General Fr Fernando Montano blesses the Ambrose School Aged Care service at St Canice’s Primary School, Katoomba, in March 2024. Image: Mary Brazell/Diocese of Parramatta

“We want that message and the presence of Christ to come to this place and to be experienced constantly.

“The services we provide in schools forms a part of the mission of the Church – to bring hope, life, mercy and forgiveness to everyone.”

Steven Jones, Principal at St Patrick’s Primary School, Guildford, which is home to the 50th Ambrose service, described it being a “wonderful opportunity” where the service integrates Catholic values and teachings into its programs and activities.

“It further supports the commitment of the Catholic Church to support families outside of the school day,” he said.

Mary Dasan, Service Coordinator at the Ambrose School Age Care Holy Family Emerton, said: “The Ambrose team is a firm believer of the Catholic Church’s mission that all are welcome. We engage with people by attending to their real needs and supporting the disadvantaged in our community.”

Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv (centre right) at the blessing of the Ambrose School Age Care Holy Family Emerton Service in March 2024. Image: Diocese of Parramatta

Keela Ellerington, an educator at Corpus Christi, Cranebrook, said: “I’d like to think of Ambrose Services as an extra community member, alongside the church and school. Ambrose aims to spread joy and the teachings of Jesus Christ.”

For parents, having peace of mind that their children are looked after and cared for in a supportive environment is a real blessing.

“Ambrose has worked perfectly for us being on school grounds,” said parent Lisa Abboud from St Patrick’s Guildford. “It is a safe and supportive environment in which my children feel comfortable.

“The staff are passionate about working with children and my children look forward to seeing them on the days they are in care.”

Service Coordinator Wendy Hu with students during the blessing of the Ambrose School Aged Care service at St Patrick’s Primary School, Guildford in May 2024. Image: Gene Ramirez/Catholic Schools Parramatta Diocese

Parent Tori-Lee Kabos, from St Monica’s School Age Care Richmond, said the opening of the Ambrose service marked a milestone in the community, showcasing the progress and investment in services that benefit everyone.

St Patrick’s Principal Steven Jones said parents were now able to drop their children off at school from 7am and pick them up after school, up until 6pm, “knowing that they are safe and have enjoyed a variety of rich and engaging activities in a safe and supportive environment”.

The educators at Ambrose are aware of the important role they play in the development of the children under their care.

“We’re in an incredible position to offer unique opportunities for learning and play in a safe and positive environment that is so different to what children experience at home and school, and I think it’s in this environment where you can really see the children develop and thrive,” said Jessica Smart, Service Coordinator at Holy Trinity, Granville.

Fellow Holy Trinity educator Asmaa Shatnawi said: “I feel comfortable and love working with the children and fellow co-workers. Ambrose has given me the opportunity and space to grow and learn new things.”

Educator Asmaa Shatnawi with students at Ambrose School Age Care Holy Trinity Granville. Image: Mary Brazell/Diocese of Parramatta

Mary Dasan, from Ambrose’s Emerton service, said she was very passionate about inspiring the next generation.

“I see Holy Family Emerton as my extended family. I have built an amazing relationship with the children there and it has helped me build valuable relationships with the principal and the school community.”

And what do our children think of Ambrose?

“I like the educators and the different games we play,” said one child from Holy Trinity, Granville. “My friends come some days as well, which is really fun.”

Joshua, from Corpus Christi, Cranebrook, said: “When I am at Ambrose, I love to go outdoors and play Oztag with my friends and Educator Keela.”

Ambrose School Aged Care now operates in 52 of the Diocese’s 58 Catholic primary schools, providing both before- and after-school care to more than 8,000 children.

This article was originally published in the 2024 Ordinary Time | Winter edition of the Catholic Outlook Magazine. You can read the digital version here or pick up a copy in your local parish.


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