The significance of the historical event of the birth of Jesus Christ defined the world in which we now live as a Catholic community. During this Advent season, we await the coming of Christ and with it the expectations of new life and a new beginning. In an increasingly secular time, our Christmas liturgy was a timely reminder of the importance of what it means to be part of a family. The love and care within each family is critical in the lives of our children and our greatest illustration of this is the story of a young couple from rural Israel searching for a place, a room at an inn for the birth of their child. I encourage all families to take the time to visit their local parish to celebrate Christmas Mass. This is a special time of year for all Christians and for all families. Enjoy the time together!
ADVOCACY, SOCIAL JUSTICE & SERVICE-LEARNING PARTNERSHIPS
Developing relationships and learning to engage in the world is fundamental to the growth of any person. At Newman College, our Marist characteristic of Presence calls us to actively engage with each other and grow our sense of community. This is exemplified through our Ministry Plan which is designed to provide our College Community with a framework through which to engage and live-out the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Its outcome may not be measured during the student’s College life. It is our aim that the values of faith, love, hope and service will manifest themselves during the student’s lifetime, and that their Catholic, Marist school experience will be one that transforms and animates them to be people of the Gospel.
Key priorities within our Ministry Plan are advocacy, social justice and service learning partnerships. The aim is to provide a framework for social action that is inspired by Gospel values, which seeks to provide the Newman College community with local opportunities to collaborate in ministries of outreach of the Catholic Church. In late November I accompanied sixteen Year 11 students and four staff from our College and St Joseph’s College Northam to the Philippines. This immersion has become an integral component of our College life because it stimulates our students’ sense of social justice and heightens their awareness of the opportunities for service in the community, both now and post school. Pope Francis contends that “the measure of the greatness of society is found in the way it treats those most in need, those who have nothing apart from their poverty.”
The immersion has three components:
- Pre-Immersion – Understanding why: Students and staff complete a program prior to the experience that focuses on learning about the structural injustices that cause poverty and oppression in the Philippines. We learn about the issues that affect young people that include abuse, human trafficking, homelessness and substance abuse. To this end we investigate and learn about the projects undertaken by Catholic Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) such as PREDA, the KUYA Centre, and ERDA Foundation. These projects specifically aim to support communities and develop the dignity of the individual to allow them to live and be afforded the rights that we all should enjoy. To support this understanding, we also focus on Catholic Social Teaching (CST) Principles with particular reference to the Church’s preferential option for the poor and the common good.
- Immersion – On ground experience: The students spend time with our partners (NGOs) to witness their work and walk in solidarity with the young people and communities. Being directly involved in activities encourages them to critically reflect on their experiences, enabling them to integrate the meaning of these experiences into their ongoing journey of faith and life.
- Post Immersion – Growing our Culture: The impact of the individual may not be measured in the short term. However, in an endeavour to raise awareness across PK-12, the immersion participants are called to action through developing a digital reflection of their experience. This is used to support our fundraising for Caritas Australia, Marist Solidarity and these agencies. Students also present to all staff and in classroom visits.
The impact and effect of this advocacy and immersion experience to the Philippines for our community has been extraordinary. Four years of this experience has grown the culture of engagement and service within and outside our school. We have established a partnership with St Joseph’s College Northam that engages students and staff from both Marist schools in this project. Our fundraising efforts have doubled and the awareness raising is now part of our pastoral program. Students have used the experience to develop their skills and capacity for critical reflection. This has enabled many students, post-school, in their application for tertiary study and for securing work in human rights and ministry. The most pleasing aspect is our community recognising the work and mission of the Catholic Church. Our students see how good works, with advocacy and service being a fundamental part of this mission.
Year 12 Graduation
This is a very special occasion on the College Calendar and marks the end of a journey from Kindy to Year 12.
In farewelling our Class of 2019, I stressed the importance of living out our dreams and that those dreams are the sum of many opportunities, challenges, experiences and of course people who support and walk with us – with their own gifts and talents.
I spoke of the recent canonization of Blessed John Henry Newman, our College namesake, whose pursuit was to inspire people to search for truth and freedom of conscience, in a time of great division and inequality between social classes, men and women, countries and more specifically between Catholics and Protestants. Saint John Henry Newman’s invitation to us is to live our life to be one of humble service and affection to each other. If this can underpin our intent and be the foundation for lives, our future, no matter what challenges we face, will be assured.
Our Year 12 students have been a magnificent exemplar to our College of this inspiration ….they have stood up for what they believed to be right and just. Their efforts, demonstrated by application, resilience, discipline, shared values, friendships and self-belief have enhanced our Newman culture. They have exemplified the Marist notion of presence by the way they have valued relationships in myriad ways. They have demonstrated a willingness to get involved, ‘to have a go’, and have the flexibility to try new things.
Please click here to access the Principal’s Graduation Speech.
In the words of Saint John Henry Newman:
Let us grow in wisdom and love
and act with courage to choose what is right.
May we always be open to change
and have the strength to accept
what is new and valuable.
Give us peace and happiness in what we do.
We ask this through Jesus, Your Son,
and Mary, our Mother.
This term, the College underwent a School Cyclic Review conducted by Catholic Education Western Australia (CEWA). A School Cyclic Review focuses on the effectiveness of a school’s engagement with self-review, the impact of self-review on school improvement and the future directions for the improvement of student outcomes that the school has identified. The data sources for this review included parents, College Advisory Council, staff, and students coupled with the College’s own self review statement, Strategic Improvement Plan, Annual School Improvement Plans and Annual Reports.
The feedback from the review across the domains of Catholic Identity, Education, Community and Stewardship were very affirming for the College. The review report specifically identified the College’s Vision for Learning Shine Through Discovery – Let Your Light Shine as a clearly defined strategic and operational direction of the College. It notes Teaching and Learning are student driven and data informed and a learning culture that encourages growth in all students is clearly visible. Underpinning this strategic priority is our renewed focus on Catholic Identity through the implementation of our Ministry Plan and commitment to the formation of the spiritual life of students and staff.