Last week I watched with interest the story of the two formerly conjoined Bhutanese twin girls, Nima and Dawa, as they arrived home in Bhutan to be reunited with their father for the first time. The girls were separated by a team of 25 surgeons, nurses, and anesthetists in an operation in early November at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital that lasted almost six hours. They recovered after the operation at a retreat run by the Children First Foundation, the charity that brought them to Australia. Barely controlling his emotions, their father, Sonam Tshering, said it was like a miracle. He took them from the airport to a monastery to light a lamp in prayer.
Although the culture between our two countries is vastly different, the respect for life shown by everyone involved in the operation and recovery was evident from the outset. And while there maybe differences in culture, it’s interesting how the lighting of a candle in prayer is such a universal practice of thanksgiving.
So much of this is true of Salesian College too. We are challenged to celebrate the things that we have in common with one another and be respectful of our differences. In the classroom, we are focusing on being inclusive and, among other things, our Respectful Relationships Program. Respect is one of those elements of culture that forms us as a community. What it means for our school culture is that everyone can feel they belong because of how they are treated and accepted each day, they can feel safe and therefore grow as learners and people in the school setting.
But respect is not a one-way transaction. It asks something of all parties: parents, staff, and students. The main enabling personality strength is self-regulation; how we manage our own response to daily life, to relationships and stressors. It asks us to accept responsibility and take control, not seek to blame others or unreasonably hide behind excuses for our behaviour.
But a healthy school culture relies upon a high degree of consistent compliance with its expectations and understanding – by all. Teachers are really focusing this year on aligning their practice with the expectations of our CLEF – “A Faith Community committed to Excellence in Learning”. They are accepting responsibility for getting better personally to meet those expectations. It is for this reason that our staff are constantly looking at how they can best act to build community and at what sort of supports they provide to students. We are always looking at how to provide more targeted intervention programs to help students who may be struggling to be fully part of the school so that they and others can benefit more from membership of this great learning community.
Parents too have a responsibility to maintain our positive school culture and align with our CLEF. Some examples include:
It is one thing to have a good strategy for improving as individuals, as a school. But, without the right culture our efforts are doomed. Please support the work of our staff and their teams when the opportunity comes your way.
The news last week regarding the conviction of Cardinal George Pell has no doubt shocked and surprised many of us. While I do not wish to make a public statement regarding Cardinal Pell, respecting both the ongoing judicial process as well as the role of our Provincial to be first in such matters of public comment, I do wish to echo the sentiments of Archbishop Peter Comensoli in asking that you keep all of those who have been abused in your thoughts and prayers at this difficult time. This is especially true for past pupils of the College whose stories of abuse by some Salesian clergy are well known to us.
The Church is in crisis as it struggles to rebuild the profound breach of trust caused by the abuse of children by Catholic clergy. I ask that you remember the many traumatised victims and their families, including those that are yet to come forward or share their horrific memories. It is in such times of crisis that Christian communities fall back on what it truly means to be Christian - reaching out to those damaged by the sins of others, accepting them and showing them the kindness and acceptance Jesus would have shown. While the Church's future may be in some doubt, there is no reason to doubt that authentic Christian communities built on love, respect, forgiveness, and hope will continue to grow if those who belong to them stay true to Gospel values.
Should you, or anyone in our community, be affected by this news - staff, students or parents - please do not hesitate to speak to anyone in a leadership position so that appropriate support may be provided.
Salesian College Sunbury is a large community of students, staff and parents, both past and present.
Please keep the following in your prayers:
Come Holy Spirit of this Great Southland
Inspire our entire faith community,
As we prayerfully discern new horizons for spreading joy
in the lives and communities of the People of God.
Come Holy Spirit of Youth
Fill the hearts of young people with the hope and love of Jesus Christ.
Enliven our community with the creativity, energy and joy of youth.
Guide us together, as we strive to offer God’s mercy
to those who feel abandoned or outcast.
Come Holy Spirit of Faith
Empower our community to be courageous.
Unite your people as witnesses of love.
Walk with us, as we blaze new trails of discipleship,
Accompanying young people as we renew the Church together.
Come Holy Spirit of Vocation
Stir within young people an awareness of God’s call.
Reveal to us the graces of young people.
Guide us all, in finding our place and raising our voices
To build a civilization of love.
Our Lady of the Southern Cross, Help of Christians, pray for us.
St Mary of the Cross MacKillop, friend of the young, pray for us.
Read an update from Acting Principal, Mrs Angela Romano
An update from our Principal, Mr Mark Brockhus, as we prepare to commence the 2019 school year.
Cricket great, Darren Lehmann, visited last week as part of our Ashes Oval Redevelopment Project and our Father's Day Breakfast