Sometimes, one may commonly neglect the importance of faith, and the dire needs of others around them. A world inherently self-centred may force individuals to forget about the greater suffering of society, left to fade away amidst what seems to be a background to the life of someone else. As Catholics, it is our aspiration to demonstrate service to God and the less fortunate. It is our responsibility to recognise not only the inherent human dignity of those currently suffering, but even of those closer to us who may be seen as ‘inferior’ or ‘unworthy’ of respect.
Today, Year 12 returned to the Mt. Schoenstatt Spirituality Centre for day three of their retreat program. For those who are unaware, the Year 12 class of 2021 were not able to have the traditional three-day offsite experience that is offered annually due to the circumstances of the global pandemic. Alternatively, a one-day-per-term program was established amidst these circumstances in order to provide to the cohort an equal, if not greater, connection to faith and each other. This day marks the penultimate retreat day before the HSC.
The day’s events were characterised by two key themes; faith development, and social justice. Divided across two locations at the centre, the Year 12 cohort participated in activities centred around the two themes.
The ‘Prayer’ site participated in activities centred around faith building and self-reflection. Once students arrived, they were greeted with a thoughtful and reflective presentation that challenged their attitude towards their faith, reflecting on their actions and by proxy their connection with God. Following this, three activities were organised at the location that aimed to promote active engagement in faith. This included the Lectio Divina, journaling, and Praying the Rosary.
Lectio Divina was a prayer method taught to the Year 12 students. Translating to ‘Divine Reading’, this method of prayer saw the students reading a given scripture passage from Matthew’s gospel and actively engaging with it. Students read the passage a total of four times, with each reading being segmented by the students being asked the key words and phrases that stood out to them most. By this, the students were able to completely immerse themselves in the scripture verse, allowing it to leave its complete imprint in their minds and hearts.
Journaling was an activity that was divided into two halves, being that of a contribution to a Kindness Wall and a personal written reflection by the students. The Kindness Wall was a wall of positivity created by each of the Year 12 students. Post-it notes of many colours containing words, phrases or even complete paragraphs were posted to the wall, creating an art piece that channeled holistic compassion. The personal reflection saw the students break off individually to write down their thoughts and considerations about themselves and others around them, building a sense of completeness and reform.
The Rosary is a renowned prayer for most Catholics, and students were instructed exactly how to pray it. They were given a set of Rosary Beads and a prayer card containing each of the Mysteries of the Rosary and its prayers. Students were guided through the process of beginning the Rosary, and praying through a singular decade. Following the prayers given by the guiding teacher, each student was given a specific prayer to read. Community was built through spirituality as each student engaged together in unison with their faith.
The ‘Social Justice’ site consisted of four activities of service for the Year 12 students. Each of them had the opportunity to participate in writing cards to our Year 7 cohort and the elderly, making miniature Rosary bracelets, knitting squares for the poor, and writing Father’s Day cards to family members to commemorate the year of St. Joseph. Each of the activities had a centric ethos of serving the community, whether it be those situated locally, or those who are less fortunate.
In order to build upon House Spirit at Good Samaritan and building upon the previous PC and House centred reflection day, Year 12 students wrote specific cards to the Year 7’s corresponding to their house group. Each student was accounted for by the Year 12’s, as heartfelt messages were created with consideration and care for all individuals. Furthermore, cards of gratitude were written to the elderly by each of the students, continuing the construction of social justice within the cohort. It was a kind demonstration of service to the College, and the wider community.
As a supplement to the Year 7 House Cards, miniature Rosary bracelets were created for each member of Year 7 in order to formally connect them to their house and the College. This sign of faith and craftsmanship encompasses and communicates the manner of service and devotion the Year 12’s demonstrated for their faith, as well as the wider College community.
The Year 12 students were also engaged in learning to knit squares for the homeless, forming a complete blanket once numerous squares were compiled. The art of knitting in itself is complex and requires immense patience, but with it comes great satisfaction and accomplishment. By contributing a singular square to a complete blanket, individuals who may not have access to warmth can obtain it.
Members of the College community can also partake in this initiative every Friday morning as part of the Wool Pack initiative.
Throughout the day, the Year 12 cohort actively and enthusiastically engaged in each of the activities set out. A strong sense of faith, unity and community was displayed as each individual contributed to the greater goals of faith development and social justice. It was yet another memorable day for the Year 12’s.
I would like to extend a personal thank you to Mr Bradbury, Ms Nissan, Miss Nugent and the Religious Education Team who made the day possible for us. Without each of your individual contributions to the organisation and progression of the day, we would not have been able to have as memorable of an experience.