RAY COLLINS: What a Week!

 What a week Catholic Schools Week has been in our diocese!

Beginning with the Official Blessing and Opening of St Aloysius Catholic Primary School at Chisholm and concluding with the celebrations of at least 165 years of Catholic Education at Raymond Terrace, the week has been full of celebrations, school open days, Masses and opportunities for parents and community members to visit classrooms and engage in student work.

The Blessing and Opening of St Aloysius was a particularly exciting day. Priests, Religious, Politicians, Diocesan Principals, CSO staff gathered with school staff , the 227 students already enrolled, parents and grandparents for the occasion.

Bishop Bill officially blessed the new school, the first newly established Catholic school in over 30 years in our Diocese. As a former Captain of St Aloysius College, Milson’s Point, Bishop Bill took great delight in telling the story of St Aloysius Gonzaga and linking Aloysius’ short life to the expectations of students today.

Mr Bob Baldwin, Member for Paterson and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment officially opened the school with the help of Mrs Suzanne Fern, foundation Principal and two school leaders. Mr Baldwin read out a letter from Prime Minister Tony Abbot who was a Primary school student at St Aloysius College, Milson’s Point at the time that Bishop Bill was the School Captain.

On Tuesday we celebrated the Blessing and Opening of the Stage 2 facilities at St Pius X High School, Adamstown and the new Sr Marie Centre which replaces the old Sr Marie Hall that was burnt down in 2013. The Stage 2 facilities included refurbishment of science laboratories, technics rooms and student facilities.

As many would be aware St Pius X had very humble beginnings, originally at Tighes Hill and then in an old Hosiery factory at Adamstown. The need for a major redevelopment of that school has been evident for a long time and now it boasts some top class facilities.

Following the opening at St Pius on Tuesday our annual diocesan Catholic Schools Week Mass took place in the Cathedral. This was a wonderful celebration, with representatives of staff and students from our schools gathering together as one community. We were also delighted to have Members of Parliament in Sharon Clayden, Pat Conroy, Tim Crakanthorp and Sonia Hornery present as the involvement of the major political parties in education is vital to our ability to provide Catholic schools.

The liturgy was simply beautiful and I thank Bishop Bill and the Priests and Deacons of the diocese for celebrating the Mass for us. Good liturgy is enhanced by good music and the music, singing and drama provided by our ASPIRE students gave great expression to the celebration. My thanks go to everyone involved in organising the Mass, particularly our Religious Education and Spirituality Team and the students and staff of our schools whose presence made this annual celebration one to be remembered.

Catholic Schools Week finished for me on Saturday evening at the celebration of 165 years of Catholic Education at Raymond Terrace. A Long Table Dinner in the school grounds completed a wonderful round of celebrations at St Brigid’s with staff, former staff, parents, former students gathered to celebrate this milestone in Catholic Education. On the Friday approximately 800 people attended a range of activities throughout the school day.

This was a special celebration for me as St Brigid’s is my former Primary school and I am very grateful for the quality education I received there from the Sisters of Mercy. I congratulate the staff and Parents and Friends Association of St Brigid’s on honouring a significant history of Catholic Education in that community.

To all our Principals, staff and students, thank you for making Catholic Schools Week such an eventful and happy week. A special thanks to Bishop Bill who has been an integral part of the celebrations this week and to many of our priests who have supported schools with Masses and liturgies as well as their presence at our diocesan celebration of Mass last Tuesday.

We have much to be proud of and thankful to God for in our Catholic schools.

Thank you for all you do.

Ray Collins Image
Ray Collins

Ray Collins is the Director of Schools within the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle. He is an authority on education issues.

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