The Damascus Centre

One of the distinguishing features of Catholic schools is that since their inception they have mostly taken the name of a saint or a particular phrase that reflects the Catholic nature of the school in its title. With that goes a school crest and motto that also clearly mark the school as a Catholic school.

In choosing a saint’s name for a particular school, it is hoped that the staff and students will reflect on the life of that saint and seek his or her patronage for the school.

This was brought home to me when I attended the Official Blessing and Opening of the new library and classroom block at St Paul’s High School, Booragul, last Friday. The original intention was to call this new building the St Paul’s “iCentre” reflecting the importance of information technology in student learning and in the work of a library.

Interestingly, the invitation I received was to attend the blessing and opening of “The Damascus Centre”, a name chosen by the school community for this beautifully designed and constructed learning space.

I was delighted to witness how the community has engaged with its patron, St Paul, who had set out on the road to Damascus for the purpose of persecuting the small Christian community that was developing there. Along the way a blinding light caused Paul to be thrown from his horse and he heard the words of Jesus asking him why he was persecuting Him.

This momentous event in St Paul’s life led to his undertaking so many more journeys of conversion and healing as he spread the love of Jesus throughout most of the then known world.

In his letter to the Philippians he made the statement, “To live is Christ”, in Latin Vivere Christus Est calling on all followers of Jesus to live their lives in accordance with Jesus’ teachings and example.

Vivere Christus Est is the motto of St Paul’s Booragul, giving added emphasis to the school community’s commitment to recognising St Paul as an example of hope and redemption, a disciple of Jesus who spread the message of the gospels through his teachings and life.

I congratulate those who chose the name for this building as it will be a reminder to everyone associated with the school of its fundamental purpose, to enable Christ’s teachings to be taught, experienced and lived every day.

Just as St Paul, the learner and teacher, became enriched by his experience, it is hoped that all who learn or teach in this school will bring to their learning and teaching the same passion and commitment St Paul brought to his ministry.

I am sure the Damascus Centre will stand for many years to come as a symbol of what this Catholic school will always be, a centre for conversion of heart, mind and soul to the teachings of the Gospels.

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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