Friday, 27 Mar 2020

Much has happened since we gathered in House Groups to celebrate Ash Wednesday in Week 5 of Term 1. The changes have happened so quickly that many people may not yet have had time to “stop and take a breath” so that they can reflect upon their current situation with any clarity. With everything going on, it is not surprising that many may have forgotten that the Lenten season is starting to draw to conclusion. We are deep in the Church’s season of Lent, which in our faith, is a time of discipline, self-sacrifice and reflection to prepare for the joy and hope of Easter. 

This year, whatever our plans at the beginning of Lent, they will have been changed enormously by the arrival of COVID-19. Our world is different today because of it and every single one of our lives is different now too. This year is one that will live in our memories for a lifetime.

Now is a time to use the message of Lent to help us cope with the rapid change and anxiety around us. Lent is about discipline and self-sacrifice, so let us make sure that we have the discipline to keep social distancing a reality in our lives and those around us. About remembering to be physically isolated from one another. Disciplining ourselves to stay at home and not to be out and about. We must also demonstrate self-sacrificing in our relationships, remembering to put the good of others above our own wants and desires – staying away from grandparents who might be in danger of contracting the virus, etc. Disciplining ourselves to be patient as we endure a quieter form of life at home with our families in a more confined space, especially during our normal holiday period.

Of course, self-sacrifice and discipline rarely happen without some pain. But now is a time, more than ever, that our communities need hope. Our leaders and health authorities have been very clear that by being disciplined now, we can avoid terrible consequences and reduce the spread of the virus to the point that life wins because our own actions can save others who are more vulnerable.

Our Christian belief is that at the first Easter, Jesus endured the pain and suffering of his death on the cross, lay at peace in his tomb and then on the third day lived again – death was not the full story, instead, new life is the full story. The promise inherent in Jesus is that our experience will be the same, through times of pain and great suffering we come to encounter life renewed and changed. 

The self-sacrifice and discipline of this Covid-19 Lent fills us with hope, that life can overcome illness and death. The Easter before us is the constant reminder that life in Jesus has overcome death. The Easter before us is the promise that new life will come, and our role in all of this is to keep watching for it, hoping and waiting.

Tim Kenny forwarded me this prayer to read to the students this afternoon before they leave. I offer it to all our families as well.

Let us pray for one another.

We pray for the blessing of kindness in this time of turmoil and crisis.
We pray for the blessing of awareness and action, especially for the most vulnerable people and places.
We pray for the blessing of support, for first responders and health care workers, doing impossible jobs.
We pray for decision makers and scientists striving to do their best.
We pray for the blessing of being "in this together," and an abundance of reaching out,
And of being community.
May the joy and new life of Easter be ours.
May the hope of Jesus’ resurrection be ours.
May we live in the knowledge that you, God of love, are with us as we face each day.
We make this prayer through Jesus our brother.
St Patrick pray for us
Live Jesus in our hearts forever.


We will move into our next phase of schooling (SPC @ Home) from the first day of Term 2, Tuesday 21 April. Whilst Monday, 20 April will be a student free day, the College will be open to students of families who work in essential services. A communication will be forwarded to all families on that Monday to give all the details for our SPC @ Home platform. As you are aware, our students have already trialled this briefly and have also been doing more work with their teachers since the trial. We are confident that it is ready for action and will be further enhanced with our teaching staff having more time next week to build their skills and units of work.

During these times, I am acutely aware of the hardships that have been placed on families in the workforce. We have received some inquiries about the fee collection process and relief into the future. We have been spending a lot of time, reviewing our 2020 budget and re-calibrating so that we can offer as much support as possible. 

There are two main considerations in this space. The first is that there is “no hard and fast blanket rule” that can be applied here because every family will be impacted in different ways. The other is that our College will still be running albeit in a different mode. All staff will be working, be it from home, at school and in different roles than usual. Our Business Manager, Liam Casey and I were involved with an on-line meeting with all EREA schools in Queensland and our head office in Melbourne this morning to discuss possibilities in this area. I will forward a communication to all families as soon as possible next week outlining the options for families. It is our clear intention that no child should leave St Patrick’s because of family hardship.

In this my last weekly article for the Term 1, I, like everyone else, would love to be doing so in much better circumstances. It would appear that things will get tougher before they start to come back to how they used to be. 

In my last recorded address to the students this afternoon, I reminded them that Paddy’s men stand up when times get tough. They need to show resilience by not only accepting and moving with rapid change, but also learning from it. Learning about themselves and how they react and about how the change can make things better than before. The need to respect the advice of the government leaders and health authorities. Stay at home means exactly that. 

Respect others by our own actions. Now is a time to think of others not ourselves. 

Finally, take responsibility to do the right thing. This applies to their own actions within the home and community and for their new style of learning. I ask for your support in ensuring that each young man accepts that school has not closed, but rather learning will take place in another way. Different can be good!

I look forward to meeting with you also again later in the year in much happier circumstances.

Live Jesus in our Hearts!

Mr Chris Mayes
College Principal