By Greg Whitby, Catholic Outlook, October 2016
Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv recently called for the Catholic Church to ‘launch into deeper waters’ at Catholic Education’s annual Ann D Clark Lecture. He echoed the call of Pope Francis ‘to move beyond the security of the status quo and take the risk of going to the periphery’.
I was reminded of this at the recent Student Excellence Awards, which recognise an outstanding Year 12 student from each of the Catholic secondary schools in the Diocese of Parramatta.
These students who received awards have made significant contributions to their school and community. They have not been satisfied with the status quo and it was a privilege to witness the culmination of their efforts at the award ceremony.
The call of our Bishop to ‘leave the familiar or the comfortable, to go to the unknown destination’ is not an easy task. Yet all of our Year 12 students are preparing to do exactly that as they come towards the end of their schooling.
It is at this time of the year that we recognise the support and encouragement that our families have given Year 12 students. Although it is not always easy to push ourselves, to launch into the deep, it is made easier by the realisation that we are not asked to do this alone, but as a community. For our students, the support they receive from their families is invaluable.
As we approach World Teachers Day on 30 October, we also thank and recognise the dedication and hard work of our staff in forming our students as young disciples of Christ, ready to face the challenge of the unknown.
Every day we also ask our teachers to ‘launch into the deep’. We ask them to challenge their own teaching practice and to personalise the learning for every student.
Through their faith and action, our teachers model for students what it means to be a disciple of Christ in the 21st Century, equipping them with the knowledge and skills they need to be successful.
There are 2788 Year 12 students preparing for the ‘unknown destination’ as they reach the end of their schooling journey. The prayers of their families, teachers, friends and school communities accompany them as they prepare for their final exams. Bishop Vincent commented in his lecture that ‘even though the journey ahead of us is daunting, we are bolstered by the fresh energy that the Holy Spirit has given to us’.
These words are of utmost relevance to our students, as they begin their journey beyond their school communities. We wish them all the very best.
Greg Whitby is Executive Director of Schools in the Diocese of Parramatta.
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