PRINCIPAL'S MESSAGE: Thursday, 9 April 2020

Thursday, 09 Apr 2020

Dear Parents and Caregivers

Our Easter week-end celebrations are about to begin. I am sure that they will be very different than we may have planned. In past years, we have always been reminded not to forget the true meaning of Easter amidst the excitement of holidays, gatherings with families and friends and sharing of Easter eggs. Perhaps with a quieter, more subdued Easter week-end, it could also be a time to reflect on what is important to each of us.

In our Christian faith, Easter is a time of despair and hope enshrined in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We need to remind ourselves that Jesus imagined a world founded on justice to all and devotion to the loving goodness of God. He called his vision the ‘Kingdom’ or the ‘Reign of God’.

 In a recent letter to all EREA staff across Australia, Dr Wayne Tinsey (Executive Director – EREA) challenged us all to face our own Gethsemane test. He wrote….

Consider the night of his arrest, those few hours Jesus spends in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus was undoubtedly aware that the tide of political events had turned. He would not need to have been divine to appreciate that circumstances were now against him. He was aware of the betrayal of Judas and he predicted the denial of Peter.
What were Jesus’ choices at this late stage?
Jesus can run, or he can stay. To run, to escape, is to call into question all that his vision, preaching and life had been about. Jesus makes the choice to stay. He is faithful unto death.
When Jesus decides to stay and see it through, he is remaining faithful to the Kingdom, regardless of the outcome. God does not require the crucifixion. God wills the Kingdom. Jesus’ death is not a sacrifice that wins us back to God. A God that required such atonement would be a vengeful God indeed. Jesus dies in the service of God’s Reign. In his death, he refuses to deny the very thing that gave his life its purpose and meaning.
It is the resurrection, however, that gives the death of Jesus ultimate meaning. Without the resurrection Jesus’ life and death are an inspiration, but not a promise. Without the resurrection the death of Jesus could be seen as just another story of a good man going down for a good cause. If the crucifixion is an act of fidelity, then the resurrection is God’s great act of faithfulness in reply.
It is in this spirit of fidelity that we Christians are all called to participate in mission. The Christian vocation is a call to be faithful to the Kingdom, ambassadors of God’s Reign. A Gethsemane test can present for us as well.
You and I are unlikely to be tested in such dramatic circumstances. More likely, we will be asked to live out our faithfulness to the Gospel in the ordinary circumstances of our lives, through a persistent habit of placing the needs of others ahead of our own, by distancing ourselves from those things that affront human dignity, by being the loving, inclusive and compassionate face of God for our world. Through our authenticity and fidelity to the Kingdom, we pass our Gethsemane test.

The testing times that we are all facing has the potential to force each of us to face our own Gethsemane test. Now, more than ever, we are called to be “faithful to the Kingdom.” To do this, our choices and actions need to be authentic to our values based on the Gospel. Our authorities are asking us to place the needs of others ahead of our own, to pass over our own circumstances for the benefit of others around us. We are being asked to relinquish what we enjoy doing, but in doing so are giving further hope to those who are vulnerable to the COVID-19 Coronavirus. It is an extraordinary time when we are being asked NOT TO do something rather DO something.

This should not be a time for authorities to have to rely on legal sanctions to get us to follow such requests, it should be a matter of decision for each of us based on our values and service to others around us.

In the coming months, we will have to do things a little differently in our own households and workplaces due to the social isolation expectations. Again, these adjustments should make us closer as families and colleagues and truly allow us to practice our values with those closest and dearest to each of us. This can be a time of joy and happiness with each other. It does not have to be a time of trepidation and anxiety.  Each of us has a responsibility to the other to bring out the best in them through our own actions and not expect them to change for us. It is a time when we must be that right person, rather than look to others to be the right person.

We have much to be grateful for living in Australia. I suspect when we look at the news across the globe, we will have a fuller understanding of just how lucky we are in so many ways. We have health facilities, government structures and welfare support that would be the envy of many people in other countries. Our biggest challenge is to be resilient in these times and accept new and changing ways of doing things but still faithful to our values of love, compassion and inclusivity for all.

If we are to accept and pass the Gethsemane test, our true measure of success when these challenging times have passed will surely be how we best served others during this time of crisis.

I am sure that there are many people within our College community who are anxious to know how schooling will be operating in Queensland (and St Patrick’s) from the beginning of Term 2. I have been advised that the Queensland Premier will make a decision and announcement regarding this next Tuesday, 14 April.

The College Leadership Team has been preparing for the possible scenarios that may come from the announcement and will be ready to advise families of our actions as soon as possible after the announcement.

There has also been much said in the media about what might be happening for students in their senior year. Whilst there are many rumours being passed around, the governments have made some firm statements and promises in this area as well. Mr Troy Schultz and Mr Jonathan Brough have been working with me to develop a document that clearly sets out the current landscape in senior schooling. This will be sent out to all Year 11 & 12 students and their families early next week.

I appreciate that this Easter will live in your memories for a very long time. It is my hope and pray that, despite all the difficult challenges that we all face, it will be remembered for the wonderful things that we have done that we would not have ordinarily considered.

Live Jesus in our Hearts!

Mr Chris Mayes - College Principal