Mary MacKillop: The Leader
The New Life in Christ (Colossians 3:12-27)
A reflection on the Second Reading from the Feast Day of St Mary MacKillop of the Cross (Year C)
Written by Mr Casimir Douglas
“Let the message of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you. Teach each other and advise each other in all wisdom.” (Colossians 3:16)
This Monday (8th August), we celebrated the Feast Day of St Mary MacKillop of the Cross. ‘Mother Mary’ is considered the Mother of Catholic Education in Australia. She and Fr Julian Tenison Woods founded the Sisters of St Joseph in the town of Penola in South Australia in 1866. From these humble beginnings, Mary MacKillop would build a religious educational institution that would span countries and centuries and build the legacy of Australia’s first Saint. Mary was at once your typical ‘Aussie-battler’ with an iron will and resilience to match, and a purveyor of the spiritual gifts of faith, service, humility and wisdom.
The Sisters of St Joseph arrived in Tasmania in 1887, establishing their first Foundation and Convent in Westbury. And whilst the order was primarily guided by Fr Julian Tenison Woods in those early years, the charism, qualities and character of St Mary MacKillop have imbued and informed the Catholic educational experience in Tasmania. The most oft attributed quote for Australia’s first Saint is: “Never see a need without doing something about it.” This statement encapsulates St Mary MacKillop’s leadership, and that model was lived by the Sisters of St Joseph in Tasmania.
When appointed to the role of Principal at St Thomas More’s Catholic School, I was thrilled for a great variety of reasons, and among these from a personal perspective, was that my mother, Toni, attended the school from 1960-1972 and was a School Prefect. Additionally, she lived directly across the road from school during those years on Abbott St. In preparation for the role, I read St Joseph’s Island by Sr Josephine Margaret Brady RSJ in order to steep myself in the history, charism and story of the school, to prepare me to lead it in the present and future. The charism of the Josephite order in Tasmania is characterised by simplicity, ordinariness, self-sacrifice, resilience, hardship, the ascetical way of life, and the charism of hiddenness. All of these qualities also perfectly and accurately describe and celebrate the leadership of St Mary MacKillop.
St Thomas More’s Catholic School was founded by the Tasmanian Sisters of St Joseph of the black habit in 1938 under the auspices of Sr Mary Camillus as Principal. There were 15 students enrolled. But the school has now grown to 360+ students, 40+ staff, and a broader group of past, current and future students, parents, friends and volunteers, who each have played, are playing, or will play, a critical role in the rich story of our school in the tapestry of time.
For the St Thomas More’s Catholic School community, we are each called to recognise, acknowledge and celebrate the history of our school, and to live the spiritual gifts that have characterised the story of the learning journey; to teach each other and advise each other in our hard won wisdom. Every student, parent, staff member, volunteer, and friend of the school are challenged to follow in the footsteps and leadership of St Mary MacKillop of the Cross; by letting the message of Christ, in all its richness, find a home in us, as we each have found a home in St Thomas More’s Catholic School.
Friday 12th August, 2022
Dear Parents and Carers,
Grace to you and peace. Welcome back to school and the learning journey of Term 3 at St Thomas More's Catholic School!
STM TV: EPISODE 3
STM TV is our school's weekly episodic YouTube show designed to share the key learning experiences of nominated students each week to engage our parents and the broader community in the learning journey of our school.
Please find below the episode for Term 3 - Week 3, 2022 which explores the book club novel, Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park, the upcoming Tournament of Minds competition, building First Tasmania Shelters, and writing persuaive letters to Mr Douglas! We hope you enjoy!
GOSPEL VALUE AWARDS: RESPECT
At our Monday morning Prayer Assembly this week, I spoke to our students about our focus Gospel value for the month of August: RESPECT. I highlighted to our students that to live with the value of respect is to: be kind, be thankful, and be positive. I highlighted that Jesus' message of treating one another as you would like to treated, perfectly captures the Gospel value of Respect.
The following students received a Gospel Value Award during the School Assembly as nominated by their class teacher for exemplifying the Gospel value of Respect this week:
|Lucy Cocca||Prep More|
|Frankie Crumpton||Prep Thomas|
|Orla Wragg||Grade 1/2 More|
|Finn Spiteri||Grade 1/2 Saint|
|Hugo McGoran||Grade 1/2 Thomas|
|Ivy Fankhauser||Grade 3/4 More|
|Cruz Atkinson||Grade 3/4 Saint|
|Shine Vangian||Grade 3/4 Thomas|
|Lewis Moore||Grade 5/6 More|
|Lewis Eldershaw||Grade 5/6 Saint|
|Willow Hammersley||Grade 5/6 Thomas|
These students will also attend the Principal’s Morning Tea this coming Tuesday (16th August) morning during first break at 10:50am with myself and Fr Chathura Silva or Fr Jesse Banez.
FEAST DAY OF ST MARY MACKILLOP OF THE CROSS
I trust that the rhetoric in my Reflection in this week's Newsletter has been sufficent to capture the significance and importance of the charism and contribution of St Mary MacKillop of the Cross to Catholic education, the Sisters of St Joseph, and our school community. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that in classic St Thomas More's Catholic School fashion, that this Friday (12th August) we celebrated the St Mary MacKillop's Feast Day, but inviting all students to dress up in BLUE!
Not only did this capture the sense of fun, excitement and energy that should be synonymous with such traditional celebrations in the modern Catholic school, but it enabled our students to demonstrate a tangible expression of their pride in our school, our history, our identity, and our community. And it certainly was a sea of blue!
CATHOLIC EDUCATION WEEK MASS
Catholic Education Week celebrates the strengths and achievements of Catholic education in Tasmania as well as the people who contribute to its ongoing success, and the students and families who are its focus and beneficiaries. The theme for this year's Catholic Education Week is Proclaim with Joy. Please trust that I will not pass up the opportunity to explore the implications and intentions of this theme in my Reflection next week.
St Thomas More's Catholic School is blessed annually to host the Catholic Education Week Mass each year. Students and Staff from Catholic schools throughout the greater Launceston region participate in the Mass which, His Grace Archbishop Julian Porteous, presides over. This is not only a marquee event in the life of our school, but the also in the life of Catholic Education Tasmania. I look forward to sharing the details and celebrations of this event with the community next week.
NEWLY APPOINTED PRINCIPAL'S INDUCTION SESSION
This Tuesday (9th August), we played host to the Newly Appointed Principals Induction Session for Term 3. The purpose of this event held each term is provide formation, gudiance and support for Principals at the start of their tenure in their journey of leadership in Catholic education. This year, attendees for these sessions were comprised of nine Principals and all members of the Catholic Education Tasmania's Leadership Team, including Executive Director, Dr Gerard Gaskin.
We were honoured to welcome this esteemed company to St Thomas More's Catholic School, and pleased to be able to share our school culture and identity with the collective participants. I wish to express my sincere gratitude to the staff of the school for their assistance with the preparation and organisation of the event, especially: Mr Rik Bryan, Mrs Sharon Woolridge, and Mrs Niccola Pearce.
May the grace of Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Mr Casimir Douglas
Congratulations to two of our students for being great role models this week.
These stickers are given to students displaying positive and respectful behaviour in the playground.
Firstly well done to Gemma Richardson from 1/2M, who has received a staggering 50 stickers in her Student Acknowledgement booklet. She was also one of the first to reach the 25 sticker milestone earlier in the year.
CBCA Book Week 2022 – Book Week Parade
Each year the Children’s Book Council of Australia celebrates Book Week to highlight the importance of reading and to promote quality Australian children’s literature. This year CBCA Book Week is being held from 20-26 August. The theme for 2022 is “Dreaming with eyes open...”
As part of our celebrations, St Thomas More’s is holding a Dress-up Parade on Monday 22nd August from 9.00 am-9.30 am. Students are welcome to dress up as a character from a book that they know and love. Please encourage your child to be creative, using clothes they may already have or recycled items. It is not compulsory, but if your child would like to take part, they may come to school dressed as their character. We recommend that students bring the book they have chosen.
Parents are most welcome to attend as the parade will be held outside. However, if we experience inclement weather on the day and are forced to hold the parade indoors, we will not be able to invite visitors due to space restrictions. We will advise in advance if plans change.
There was a sea of blue at the school today with the annual dress blue day as part of the Saint Mary McKillop Feast Day events.
We have spent the week celebrating and learning about Mary MacKillop, starting with a whole school liturgy focusing on the life of Australia's first saint!
Mary MacKillop was the founder of the religious order the Sisters of Saint Joseph, who were the founding sisters of our school St Thomas More's Catholic School. So she has a solid connection to our school.
Throughout the week, students were invited to draw, pray and capture moments in our school "seeing a need and doing something about it" on a hand cutout to create a "Helping Hands" display in our office. So come and visit and look at the fantastic display put together by Mrs Taylor and her team of helpers.
Today's dress blue day raised funds for the Mary MacKillop Today fund.
The money we raise will go to a mobile kindy in Fiji.
Drum roll ... we were able to raise a total of $372.70! What an amazing effort.
We are well and truly on the home stretch now, with 5/6M this afternoon arriving in the beautiful city of Adelaide, finishing their leg of the Pass The Baton Challenge.
Starting Monday, we have the first of our combined year group walks now, with 1/2S, T and M walking together from Adelaide to The Twelve Apostles.
Meanwhile, Kinder M has been busy on their journey from The Twelve Apostles to Melbourne. They are almost there!
Do you feel like a bit of a "healthy debate" tonight?
As part of a new program at STM targeting social and emotional skills, a group of Grade 3/4 students has been meeting weekly to debate a different topic. And what better way to have a healthy discussion than while we are cooking!
It is an idea we cooked up to encourage critical thinking skills, improve articulation, quick thinking and, more importantly, greater empathy, control and conflict resolution.
Debating serves up key social and emotional skills - essentially showing us that it is okay to disagree and have differing opinions.
Rubi Butwell, Flynn McKinnon, Milly Ashdown, and Jarvis Attard have met to discuss several topics and also make some delicious food. The students have been cultivating the recipes and also the topics.
So why not dish up a healthy debate at your house tonight?
Our topics so far have been:
- All primary school students should wear masks at school?
- Pineapple on pizza - yes or no?
- The use of gaming devices should be restricted to only a few hours a week?
We have whipped up some great meals as well - here are the details for you to try at home:
Happy "Heathy Debates", everyone!
With our reading program in full swing, here is some great information on how our reading knowledge grows.
So, what is phonological awareness, and why is it so important?
This video looks at those questions and well as exploring how to best teach phonological awareness.
It also looks into important ideas like the difference between phonics and phonological awareness and phonological awareness and phonemic awareness.