Daughter of Melbourne Colloquium

Last week, I attended the ‘Daughter of Melbourne Colloquium’ at the Mary MacKillop Heritage Centre (MMHC) in East Melbourne. I was privileged to share this experience with a lovely group of people, welcoming hosts, and inspiring presenters. I was extremely moved by their passion, personal testimony, and gift of storytelling.

The MMHC offered warm hospitality and an opportunity for prayer and reflection. I enjoyed spending time in the gallery and celebrating Mass in Mary’s Chapel. I valued hearing more about the human side of Mary, her challenges, and achievements along with stories about her family and mentors which included Fr Julian Tension Woods. For a change of pace, we went for a walk visiting sites and Providences in Melbourne where Mary and the Sisters worked selflessly and tirelessly for the poor and marginalised.

Overall, I came away deeply enriched by Mary’s story, it reinvigorated my faith and gave me an undeniable appreciation for the ministry of the Sisters of St Joseph. I sincerely thank the team at the MMHC for their wonderful program, time, and generosity.

“I had the pleasure of attending the 'Mary of the Cross Daughter of Melbourne Victorian Colloquium' on Thursday and Friday last week with Anne Severi and Laura Zarb. As a new member of staff, it was both a reaffirming and enlightening experience that allowed me to connect with my faith and have a better understanding of who Mary Mackillop was and why she is as important in our lives today as she was to those in her time. It was an incredible experience and thank our Principal Kate Dishon for giving me the opportunity to further connect and belong to the MSJ community. “

- Brendan Savage, Year 7 House Leader

“Participating in the "Mary MacKillop: Daughter of Melbourne" Colloquium has been an invaluable experience. As someone new to the Josephite community, it expanded my understanding of Mary MacKillop and her remarkable life. The presenters brought Mary's story to life, emphasising her humility, deep faith, and unyielding perseverance, which resonated deeply with me. Exploring Melbourne through the context of Mary’s story was a unique opportunity, fostering a sense of connection. The colloquium's focus on Mary's passion for education has motivated me to infuse this into my teaching. It also challenged me to reflect on how I can better embody the Josephite charism at MSJ. Engaging with others who share the tradition of Mary was inspiring and really instilled that the ‘story now belongs to us’. I leave with a renewed commitment to incorporate Mary's values of faith, humility, and a deep passion for education into my teaching practice.”

- Laura Zarb, Teacher

Staff Faith Day

The Catholic Church is committed to the development of Aboriginal expressions of theology and spirituality. Pope John Paul II, in his famous message to the Aboriginal Peoples of Australia in Alice Springs 1986, stated that the Catholic Church will be lacking in its full expression if it does not embrace the spirituality of our Aboriginal people. The Australian Bishops, in their 2019 Pastoral Letter, call for all Catholics to walk alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and to embrace “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander spirituality within the wider Catholic spirituality” as a means of deepening their own faith and furthering Reconciliation. As a Catholic school inspired by the great work of Saint Mary Mackillop, Fr Julian Tension Woods and today by the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart we too need to give life to this aspiration.

Therefore, our Staff Faith Day on Friday 1 September could not have been timed better with forthcoming Voice Referendum and with celebrating Social Justice Sunday on 27 August where the Australian Catholic Bishops called on the nation to seek a new engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. They released their annual Social Justice Statement which highlights three key words, Listen, Learn and Love: a call to develop relationships of humility and love with our First Nations People. We can often struggle when bringing First Nations spirituality, stories, histories, and cultures into a school context. So, we decided to partner up with an organisation named ‘Australians Together’ who provide a Building Confidence Workshop incorporating a unique and comprehensive learning framework based on 5 key ideas designed to reshape Australia's narrative. The day was facilitated by Michellie Charvat, Partnerships Manager from Australians Together who was supported by three colleagues Jade Brook, Simon McCormick and Taylah Newman. We opened with a personal Acknowledgement of County and lovely prayer service. All staff were taken on a very humbling and informative journey with meaningful sessions that had the perfect mix of activities and time for reflection. This day was inspiring and brought us closer together. We are all given a gift, the gift of knowledge, may we use it to be agents of change to inspire the next generation.

“Our Staff Faith Day was a wonderful opportunity to have a day to reflect on our past and present collectively as staff but more importantly with a focus on the future. All of us have a responsibility to do more for Reconciliation, this day was a reminder of that duty.”

– Robert Herrera, Faith & Identity Curriculum Leader

“Perfectly pitched at secondary teachers to empower us to teach about First Nations people, events, history, and issues.”

– Kat, Anastasi, Acting Solomon House Leader

“I have always believed in the importance of learning and listening to First Nations people to understand our shared history and make a more just world, more just. After attending the Australian Together workshop I have been inspired by how there are many different examples that I can engage in meaningful and practical changes that will create a better future for all.”

- Courtnee Doering, Faith and Identity Leader

Anne Severi - Director of Catholic Identity

Year 9 Reflection Day ‘Belonging and Relationships’

On Tuesday 22 August, the Year 9 students had a wonderful opportunity to participate in a reflection day facilitated by Youth Mission Team Australia. The team was very down to earth, relatable, engaging and a lot of fun. As a Year 9 cohort, we could all take away many valuable key messages from this experience and had the opportunity to reflect on our relationship with God, our friends, family and most importantly ourselves.

The Youth Mission Team was able to help each one of us differently by expanding our views on the relationships in our lives. The presenters shared personal testimonies about a time in their life where they found it difficult to work upon their self-esteem and feeling accepted by the people around them. This helped us to realise the power of resilience to overcome setbacks and to never feel worthless than what you are. It also explored the importance of being an individual and to share our differences with each other, we are all unique and that is what makes us so special in this world.

YMT also made it an awesome experience for us through drama performances, videos and discussions, games, and reflection time. A crowd pleaser was when they had students replace the team members in a drama skit to show us how every person can bring something different to a community by being themself. Overall, it was a very engaging experience as everyone was able to get involved, think differently, and have a reflection on what makes us special.

Bella Munro, Amelia Davidson and Arden Roche - Year 9

Year 10 AJASS Immersion Melbourne Day

Four Year 10 students, Lauren Price, Joanne Vivera, Bianca Anderson, and Ebony Silva were nominated through an application process to represent the college at an AJASS Melbourne Student Immersion experience on Tuesday 5 September. AJASS is the Association of Josephite Affiliated Secondary Schools across several schools throughout Australia and in New Zealand that all follow the charism of Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop and the Sisters of Saint Joseph. The program involved events at the Mary MacKillop Heritage Centre in East Melbourne and Penola Catholic College, Broadmeadows. This was a wonderful opportunity for the students to learn more about the Josephite charism, nurture their spirituality and build relationships with students from the AJASS Network. It was heart-warming to hear the positive feedback from the students who said they yearned to have more opportunities like this. They were open to prayer, enjoyed learning more about not only St Mary’s life but the work of Fr Julian Tension Woods and the Sisters of St Saint Joseph. Our students also pointed out how lovely it was being around like-minded people who were so respectful, engaged, welcoming and fun.

“We learnt so much about Mary, her family, how she met Father Julian Tenison Woods and what they achieved together. I was inspired by how much she had to endure and overcome in her life. Mary’s compassion for others was truly admirable.” - Lauren Price, Year 10 Student