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God is Grace: "Binding & Belonging"
The Return to Antioch in Syria (Acts 14:21-27)
A reflection on the First Reading from the Fifth Sunday of Easter (Year C)
Written by Mr Casimir Douglas
“From there they sailed back to Antioch, where they had originally been commended to the Grace of God, for the work they had now completed.” - Acts 14:26
In the First Reading from last week (Fourth Sunday of Easter), Paul and Barnabas were rejected by the Jews in Antioch and ‘driven out of the region’ for preaching the Risen Christ in the Synagogue. Antioch is considered the literal birthplace of the Church (Acts 11:26), and at the time of Barnanbas and Paul’s enforced (albeit temporary) exile from Antoich, it was not the Christians who made them outsiders, but the Jewish demographic.
In the First Reading of this week’s Liturgy of the Word, Paul and Barnabas sail back to Antioch, and there is no mention nor hint by the author of any resistance to their return. This seems to suggest that the growing Christian population and influence in Antioch may have improved the response to their return. But it doesn’t say that either.
What the scripture does inform us is that Paul and Barnabas had visited and evangelised in at least four other locations before returning to Antioch, and that their work had ‘now been completed’. And what was this work? It’s right there in the passage above (Acts 14:26), to bring awareness to Jews, Gentiles and Christians alike of the action, active, and acting Grace of God in their lives and in all creation.
This is beautifully illustrated by the Gospel writer Luke, author of the Acts of the Apostles, in his description of the immediacy and urgency with which Paul and Barnabas' acted when they arrived in the harbour at Antioch: “On their arrival they assembled the Church…”. They wasted no time in bringing the people of God, the Body of Christ, together. For this is the nature of God’s Grace. But it is not the work of Paul and Barnabas that brought these people together, rather, it is that God has already, and is now constantly and unendingly bringing people together into a universal belonging in Christ. God’s Grace is that which brings people together.
So why was there no resistance then for Paul and Barnanbas when they returned to Antioch, even though they had been driven out of the region when they had just recently been there? It wasn’t by the work of their own hands, for their mission had taken them abroad. So what had brought the community of Antioch together in their absence? God’s grace.
God’s Grace is that which fills the gaps, God’s Grace is that which binds, God’s Grace is that which brings belonging, God’s Grace is welcome, God’s Grace is inclusion, God’s Grace is harbour, God’s Grace is immediate and urgent, God’s Grace is communion… God is Grace.
Friday 13th May, 2022
Dear Parents and Carers,
Grace to you and peace.
GOSPEL VALUES: EMPATHY
At Monday morning Prayer Assembly this week we continued our exploration of the Gospel Values of St Thomas More's Catholic School. The focus for our learning during these gatherings in the month of May is the Gospel value of EMPATHY. We discussed that the empathy is about recognising and understand the emotions of others, and then being able to respond appropriately with care and compassion. To live the Gospel value of empathy is... to be gentle, to listen, and to learn. We must understand and be careful of how our actions might impact other people, and ask ourselves how we can best support those in need. To act with empathy is to truly understand the emotions, experience and feelings of another, as if they were your own.
I shared a story with the students, an ancient proverb, about three generations living together in a small hut and half a blanket. The story is designed to teach and highlight how our behaviours and choices change when we understand the experiences of others, as if we were to experience it ourselves. I encourage you to ask your child to relay the proverb to you, they were certainly a captive audience! I have asked the teachers this week and next week to identify and observe those students who display an act of empathy. These students will be nominated to receive a Gospel Values Award at our School Assembly next Friday (20th May), and will attend the Principal's Morning Tea with myself, Fr Jesse Banez and Fr Chathura Silva in Week 4.
The change to bring NAPLAN testing online has meant that the process of sharpening hundreds of pencils, storing boxes of test papers, and searching resources cupboards for the hidden stashes of erasers is no longer required. But the tests still bring with them anxiety, pressure, worry, and concern - and that is just the teachers! I must commend the spirit and perseverance of our Grade 3 and Grade 5 students in their engagement with the NAPLAN testing, and giving their best to ensure the integrity of the testing, so that as a school we can be in a stronger position to provide the appropriate levels and strategies for learning support for all of our students. I was impressed with their fidelity to the test conditions and determination to finish the test to the best of their ability.
Thank you very much to Mrs Niccola Pearce for leadership and organisation of the NAPLAN testing, and for the staff who have supported the students both academically and pastorally in the lead up to, and during, the testing period.
I have recently read, Can't Hurt Me, the autobiography of Chief Petty Officer David Goggins, a retired Navy Seal, Army Ranger, and Airforce Tactial Air Controller. He is the only member of the US Armed Forces to qualify for these three elite groups. But more inspiring and relevant is his experience as an ultra-marathon runner and ultra-triathlon competitor. Goggins has completed in and won some of the most gruelling endurance races in the world, including the Badwater 135. It is a 135 mile (217.2km) foot race through Death Valley in California. The race is held during July in the Northern Hemisphere Summer where conditions can reach up to 130 °F (54 °C)! Additionally, large sections of the course are in mountainous areas, and competitors must scale 2548 metres of uphill throughout the race. Unsurpisingly, very few finish the race. The book itself, as much as it relays the stories of these epic and challenging events, is primarily about the mindset and discipline required to train for this level of physical, mental and spiritual endurance.
This coming Wednesday (18th May) our students prepare for their Cross Country carnival. For our students, this is not only a competition to race their peers for the finishing line honours, but an a opportunity to display their House spirit, support and encourage their peers, and test themselves physically, mentally and spiritually against the course. Only one student will win each race, but winning isn't the point (don't tell Mrs Pearce or Mr Healey I said that!) - participation is. The purpose of the race is for each and every student to experience discomfort and struggle, and like David Goggins to overcome the doubt in their minds and the fatigue in their bodies and finish the race!
Thank you very much to Mr Nick Stacey for organisation of the event, and for the training he has been conducting during PE lessons in recent weeks. I must say that I am looking forward to racing against our Grade 6's and leaving them in the dust...
May the grace of Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Mr Casimir Douglas
Last weekend, over 60 STM students participated in the Launceston Speech and Drama competitions. This year was most definitely the highest standard I have ever seen. The Grade 3 section on Saturday morning started us off very well, with the Competitions president later saying to me that a lot of those students would have placed in higher grades! Our prep-2's were amazing, and so cute in their costumes on Mother's Day. A lot of potential for future public speaking champions here!
Grade 4's and 5's did well, with lots of students participating in their first competitions. Grade 6's were outstanding on Saturday night, and Maeve Kok-Connors has won the overall trophy for highest aggregate score for a grade 6 student, and with her two first places and one second place also tied for the trophy for highest aggregate score from the entire competitions, all ages.
One of my favourite things was hearing from different volunteers about the beautiful manners of our students. I also loved the sportsmanship shown, with everyone encouraging and cheering on nervous friends, and others chatting away and making new friends with people from other schools.
Wednesday was another exciting day, with Mrs Morgan's grade 4 students performing mimes on the Princess Theatre stage. This helped them get out all their nerves for the class poems. Well done to Halle and Evie who won the mime section. The grade 5/6 section was won by Ms McLauchlan, who was very gracious in defeating Mr Healey's class who came in second place. Grade 3/4 was won by Mrs Hodgett's class, and Prep - 2 was won by Mrs Taylor and Mrs Chugg's class.
The standard was extremely high, I am very glad not to have been a judge! Mrs Hodgett's class also take home another trophy, for champion speaking group. Thank you parents for all your support in preparing your children and helping them practise at home, I couldn't be more proud!
Mrs Angela Edwards
It was with great excitement that the Gr 6 Sports’ Captains received the equipment generously donated by the STM Parents and Friends for students to use at recess and lunchtime. Part of the House Captains role is to distribute and collect balls and other equipment to students at the start and end of recess and lunch.
The boxes arrived this week and the fancy battery operated compressor was used to pump up all the balls. There is no power in the sports shed so the new compressor will make it much easier to keep all the balls pumped up and ready for use.
Many thanks to the P&F for their generous donation which the students are enjoying.
The equipment has arrived.
Congratulations to Lachlan and his mum Kate, who took their passion for bike riding to the Launceston City Council, and have received in principle approval for a pump track to be established in Prospect!
"Last Thursday mum and I went to a Launceston city council meeting, we both spoke in the meeting about how good it would be to have a pump track in Prospect near my house. The councillors were very impressed with us and voted a unanimous yes! This was a great result … keep your eyes peeled in Prospect for the new track." Lachlan Reid
Our collection of parenting resources has been relocated to the Library. Please feel free to call in and browse the collection. We have titles by renowned parenting authors such as Steve Biddulph, Maggie Dent and Andrew Fuller. Parents are most welcome to borrow. Alternatively, you can contact me and I can send the item home with your child.
Have your child's medical details changed?
Please ensure the school has up to date medical information for your child/ren, including medical plans and in-date medication. If medication needs replenishing or is about to expire, please bring it to the office at your earliest convenience.
Thank you for your assistance.
Our first Band Soiree is scheduled to be held on Thursday, 2nd of June, 5.30pm in the Josphite Hall. We look forward to seeing our band musicians display their musical prowess!
To ensure your child/rens names are included in the programme, please return the reply slip to the STM office, emailed recently from the St Patrick's College music program team. A copy is also attached below for reference.
This term we will hold an unannounced emergency practice with staff and students, to test our response to a potential scenario that staff identify a threat warranting the school go into lockdown (opposite to evacuation).
Like for fire evacuation drills, we recognised the worth to test this process. We have plans in place to make this practice as least disruptive as able. If you have queries you are welcome to call our Safety Officer Simon Natoli on 0400 105 476