February 7, 2020
by Director of Mission, Mr Geoff Brodie
May 2020 be a year filled with every grace and blessing for the families of St Patrick’s College, with a special prayer for our families joining us for the first time.
Education is an adventure that is at the living heart of the Catholic tradition, for Jesus spent much of his time teaching those around him. If (to use modern lingo) Jesus had a central learning intention, it must be “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is as hand”. The phrase “Kingdom of God” appears 122 times in the New Testament, 99 times in the Gospels, and 90 times from the mouth of Jesus. So, the numbers alone compel us to take a closer look. What did Jesus mean by ‘Kingdom of God’ and why was teaching the chosen way of communicating the message?
To start, to abide in the Kingdom of God is to freely take responsibility to live according to our full capacity as a human person. That capacity is to know the gift of truth, to choose the truly good over self-satisfaction, to act courageously in enduring all challenges, and to love without limit. Our growth in freely and responsibly fulfilling our capacity is such a monumental task that it requires the wisdom of a heritage and the support of a community to be undertaken. This personal growth and community support come together in education.
All this can happen in the smallest ways. So, when a student freely places their rubbish in a bin because they know the right thing is to feel responsible for their surroundings, education in the Kingdom of God is occurring. When a student freely knows it is good to treat others with patience and respect, regardless of the situation, education in the Kingdom of God is occurring. When a student freely completes that bit of homework, despite the temptation of other activities, education in the Kingdom of God is occurring. Such moments build up the Kingdom of God.
The mission of a Catholic school in the Edmund Rice tradition is to take all these moments and unite them in the desire to know our capacity as human persons and to freely and responsibly choose to fulfil that capacity. God has given all we have as a loving gift, so surely the proper response is to be generous with those gifts, and to use them wisely and lovingly in the service of others. For love is the fulfilment of all our human capacity. To love is to share in the very being of the God who fulfils the deepest desires of our heart. To help us we have Jesus: God who is encountered in the Gospels and prayer and witnessed in the Touchstones. Jesus chose teaching to invite us into the fullness of life because he was not a control freak and because education is a work of love. St Patrick’s seeks to be an authentic witness to Jesus in all we do and teach, and education takes much courage, patience, endurance and support from all involved.
Education in the Kingdom of God is a journey of gradual but great discovery – it is the work of an entire lifetime. St Patrick’s College draws its life from all who wish to share their journey towards fulfilment in love, that is, in God.