August 25, 2022
by Assistant Principal – Mission and Identity, Mr Geoff Brodie
Last week the College held our annual Faith in Action assembly. Led entirely by students from preparation to presentation– only students were on the stage during the assembly – perhaps it is only just this article begins with the words of Year 10 student, Noah Quick, who introduced the assembly.
As we begin our assembly this morning, I invite you to take this moment to comprehend the position we are in right now: we share the gift of community, we are in a position of safety…
In order to appreciate this position, we must understand that the safe and regular routines of our lives may also contain the temptation to neglect the way our community offers so many gifts, leading us to take them for granted.
Whilst I can appreciate it may be difficult to do, I want you to consider the prospect of having to seek refuge. I would imagine that for many of you, the millions of people that have fled Ukraine since the beginning of the year may be at the forefront of your consideration.
As the Ukrainians have done, imagine having to pack your belongings into a bag, choosing what to take and more importantly, what to leave behind.
Imagine deciding who to send your children with for the pursuit of safety and shelter.
Imagine, realising you may never set foot in the city, street, or house which is home to so many warm memories. Your life, your safety and your future has been severely compromised.
Luckily for us, the thought of seeking asylum or refuge is a remote one. So, for here this morning, it may be difficult to relate to the stories told today. This does not condemn us. Let us thank God for our way of life. But who is my neighbour?
It is because we ask this question that we should attempt to look through a different lens: one that will allow us to consider how fortunate we are to be in this community in light of what will be discussed over the course of this assembly.
Paterson Meenely was another of our students who addressed the Assembly. Paterson spoke after we engaged with a powerful and personal account of the impacts of the conflict in Ukraine.
It is our normal practice at Assemblies to commence and end with a prayer. However, in response to what we have just heard, let us turn to God in prayer, and ask that hearts of stone may be transformed into hearts of flesh. I invite you to join with me to pray:
We pray for the people of Ukraine,
for all those suffering or afraid,
that you will be close to them and protect them.
We pray for world leaders,
for compassion, strength, and wisdom to guide their choices.
We pray for the world
that in this moment of crisis,
we may reach out in solidarity
to our brothers and sisters in need.
May we walk in your ways
so that peace and justice
become a reality for the people of Ukraine
and for all the world.
During the Assembly, the funds raised from our Walkathon were presented to our justice partners. This part of the Assembly was introduced by Callan Shillington with these words.
Each year the College conducts our fundraising Walkathon. Thanks to the efforts of many students, each year St Pat’s is pleased to present cheques to each of our major charity partners.
One short word here. Maybe this is one area where Covid has interrupted our established routines. Our fund raising this year is significantly down on previous years. Ok, that is where we are. That is not to judge anyone in these testing times. But may I say to our partners in justice here today, our commitment remains as strong as ever.
To my fellow students, let us take up our responsibility to continue our tradition of fund raising. Let us once again, do what we can to help our neighbours. Let us joyfully look forward to the challenge of next year by making our commitment now. It is happening now. Let us do what is in our power to help our neighbour.
Cheques were presented to
- Edmund Rice Overseas Fund,
- Edmund Rice Community and Refugee Services,
- Edmund Rice Camps
Our community was also blessed to welcome back 2019 College Captain Aidan Hanrahan, who spoke with joy and humour about his engagement with the work of the Faith in Action group whilst a student of the College. A word of thanks to our Faith in Action trainee, Mr Rorey O’Kelly, who worked with the students of the Faith in Action and SAGERS groups to bring this powerful Assembly together.
To conclude this account of our Assembly, it is best to offer some further words from another student, Lochie Kelly.
Let us not choose inaction because we believe we are powerless in the face of suffering. When confronted with the enormous or small challenges of life, and with the question of “What can I do?” the answer is the same.
I do what I can.
Each and every person in this gym has the ability to help their neighbour in one way or another. The College has many programs that run throughout the year with the sole purpose of doing what we can.
Each of us can offer our time, our knowledge, our skills, our generosity, the gift of our presence, to help our neighbour. We do not make this offer to feel good about ourselves, but because we can do what is good and just. It is happening now.