Last Sunday’s Gospel was from John and was about one of Jesus’s best-known miracles. In this Gospel, Jesus crossed the sea of Galilee with his disciples and was followed by a large crowd. When they climbed the hill upon reaching their destination, Jesus saw the swarming crowd of about 5000 approaching him and his disciples. Jesus told the crowd to be seated and asked his disciples to feed the crowd. They became concerned by how they would feed an enormous crowd with the insignificant amount of food (five barley loaves and two fishes) that they had. Jesus simply and calmly asked them to hand over the five loaves of bread and two fish, and then he miraculously multiplied it. Not only does Christ provide food for the entire crowd present, but there are enough leftovers to fill 12 large baskets.

This story can be interpreted about how God wants to work in our own lives. Our faith in him challenges us to offer him not only what we have but also who we are and the gifts that each of us have as a person. We are called to trust in his providence for our life. If we do this, he will multiply our gifts. It is God’s desire to use us and our gifts as instruments to feed a world starving for Good News and his love.

In this Gospel, we must look past the miracle of Christ meeting the physical needs of thousands of people through feeding them bread and fish. More importantly, he feeds them spiritually through his preaching. Jesus wants to fulfill the spiritual hunger that each of us have. This story makes more sense of the belief that Christ is the Bread of Life. Rather than hear him preach today, we can daily consume his bread through his words in Scripture. Our faith in him and discipleship to his words leads us to be the gift that we are to all around us. In our community, so many can gain from the words and actions of few. Our challenge is how well we use our gifts to make the world a better place for others around us.

Monday was the start of Catholic Education Week. Catholic Education Week will conclude tomorrow. This annual event is held to promote the special ethos of Catholic schools and to highlight the great things that take place in Catholic schools every day. The theme for this year's celebrations is: Discovering New Horizons. Catholic education strives to make a difference in the lives of those in our schools and in the wider community by challenging young people to live out the message of Jesus and to reach their full potential as compassionate, contributing, life-giving members of society. There are 304 Catholic schools in Queensland that educate around 147,000 students and employ more than 19,000 teachers and staff. Each year, nominations are called for staff from all schools to be recognised for their contribution to Catholic education. This year, three staff members from our College were recognised. During Tuesday’s assembly we congratulated and presented certificates to Mrs Jan Thompson and Ms Elizabeth Gaber for their contributions. Jan has worked at St Patrick’s for nearly 25 years and has had significant influence on our College administration and support staff. She has for many more recent years been the PA to the College Principal and handled the enrolment program. Elizabeth has been involved in Catholic education for many years starting in Rockhampton and working at Nudgee College and Loreto College. Her contribution to teaching and leadership has been enormous over this time. Mrs Annette Campbell was not at the assembly as she was required to travel to Townsville to attend the Catholic Education Week Award Ceremony and receive her award for her contribution to inclusive education over 20 years of teaching. We are very fortunate to have a person of Annette’s expertise and energy within our community. Her award is testimony to the great work that she does every day.

This week has been quite eventful. On Tuesday, we had the opportunity to recognise many of our young men for their efforts and service during the second term of sport. This included Football and Rugby and we also named O’Rourke House as the Champion Athletics House for 2018. We also recognised the efforts of our premiership teams, one of the more notable was the First XV Rugby team who won the Open Premiership for the first time in the College’s history.

Last night we hosted the Bramble Bay Music Festival for students across primary schools in the northside of Brisbane. We also hosted the Year 7 Debating competition as well as parent information workshops. I thoroughly enjoyed the music concert and it was wonderful to see so many of our young men participate in the bands, choirs and ensembles. Our music staff were also involved in working with the performers earlier in the week leading into the concert.

Wednesday and Thursday were very busy days for our Year 12 students. All students who will be seating the Queensland Core Skills (QCS) Tests later this year undertook these two days of full practice. The students were very engaged and hopefully this will be reflected in their results. Mr Troy Schultz did a great job in planning and facilitating both days. The students will continue with their workshop practices until the tests on 4-5 September. Students who will not be sitting the tests engaged in their work placement program and worked on catching up with their other coursework. This program was run by Mr Chris Herrod.

On Wednesday, I attended the Queensland Catholic Education Commission (QCEC) symposium for NAPLAN on-line. We will be a trial school for the on-line program in 2019. It is a very exciting program and past trials have demonstrated that the students prefer the on-line and more interactive tests. Our key staff involved in NAPLAN will continue training over the next few weeks and the students will start a process of preparation in the latter parts of this year and next year. The on-line tests allow all students to be challenged as it offers a more differentiated program of questions. We will explain more about the tests and program to parents closer to the test dates next year. The on-line version is expected to be compulsory across Australia in 2020.

Today, Frank Torrisi, Darren Kearney, Janet Garside, John Zappala, Amira Bosnjak and I attended the QCEC Child Protection forum. We are all child protection contacts within the College and attend annual updates and training. Our staff are also consistently advised of updates and undertake on-line training as well.

This weekend our younger grades host St Peter’s Lutheran College (SPLC) in Basketball and Tennis, whilst our older teams play at SPLC. I look forward to an enjoyable Saturday of fixtures and hope to catch up with many families during the day.

Live Jesus in our Hearts!

Mr Chris Mayes – College Principal