Last week I celebrated Mass for the beginning of the year with the new staff of our Catholic Education Office.
There were two new Principals and a number of new teachers, teacher’s aides, and Catholic education office staff.
Members of our Aboriginal staff started the Mass with a smoking ceremony which followed a welcome to country.
During the Mass there was participation by many in various parts of the liturgy.
Prayers were made in a number of native languages.
As I looked around, I could see people present from so many cultures and races.
That evening we all mingled and share a supper together.
Previous to the mass I had gathered with the school Principals and other leaders. I spoke with them about some of the challenges that face our people. We also talked about developing further support to students, families, and staff. I also encouraged them to have someone to talk with about their faith journey.
The day after, on the Thursday, I spoke to our new teachers and other staff, and the school leaderships.
Among other things I spoke about how we call need to be committed to being life-long learners.
That day, being the Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, I spoke about how he used new insights to explain our Christian faith for his contemporaries, and also how the principles he used can be also applied to us as we face our contemporary challenges. We need to be prayerful, as well as creative thinkers.
Spirituality is at the heart of our Catholic education. We need good teachers, good educators; we also need people open to spirituality.
Jesus is at the centre of who we are, and the centre of our identity.
I also reflected with the group about the privilege we have to be educators of our young people. We are helping to lay life-long foundations in their lives.
We also acknowledged during these days, Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann, new Australian Senor Citizen of the Year. She grew up through our Catholic school system, was a teacher, Principal, and is still a consultant to our Catholic education in the NT.
She said to me how our Catholic school system had help bring her to be where she is today.
Thank God that we are able to freely speak in our schools about our values.