School communities celebrate 800 years of Dominican life!

The Dominican schools of St Dominic’s, St Columban’s and San Clemente, Mayfield, and Corpus Christi, Waratah, have traditionally come together to celebrate the feast of St Dominic early in August.

This year’s occasion was extra special, as Dominicans everywhere are celebrating 800 years since the confirmation of the Order of Preachers in 1216.

And as principal of San Clemente High School, Scott Donohoe, pointed out, “I consider today very much a warm-up for our school centenary next year!”

The story of Dominic, who was born in the small Spanish town of Caleruega, was powerfully enacted by students, invoking the symbols of the torch, the rosary, the globe and the books that represent both Dominic’s generosity and his love of learning.

As the Order’s name suggests, Dominic was known as a great preacher. The students were told that, when asked what book he used to prepare his homilies, Dominic responded, “The only book I use is the book of love.”

Fr Bill Burston led the liturgy, telling the assembled students, “You might be surprised to know that you are preaching, just by being yourselves.” 

A special guest was Fr Kevin Corrigan, parish priest of Nelson Bay, who was keen to thank students personally for their generous response to his recent appeal for the mission he supports in Cambodia. He shared a story of taking busloads of children on an excursion into the city.  It was a thrill for them simply to see the river and to chase pigeons in a park!

The choir of St Dominic’s Centre performed “Reach Out” and the students’ enthusiasm was infectious. Afterwards, St Dominic’s hosted morning tea for visitors, including Sisters from local Dominican communities. Scott Donohoe told the Sisters, “You will always be welcome here”. 

San Clemente High School, which hosted the liturgy, chose the occasion to unveil its renewed school crest and to acknowledge publicly its updated Mission, Vision and Values statements. As Scott Donohue said,

“I ask you to take notice of our new Mission, Vision & Values statements. These statements are a result of collaborating with staff, students and the community. Every school has these but ours are unique to us.

“Our Mission statement asks, ‘Why do we, as a school, really exist? What is our purpose as a school’? Our Vision statement asks, ‘What must we, as a school, become to achieve this purpose?’

“Our Values statement asks, ‘How must we behave to truly live out our mission?’ These words are chosen carefully – the four pillars of prayer, study, service and community which link so well with our five ways to wellbeing: Connect, Be Active, Keep Learning, Take Notice and Give. It is St Dominic who has been the real inspiration behind these statements.”

Students of each school community moved from the liturgy to continue living the Dominican way – to praise, to bless, to preach – in their own ways.

San Clemente students participated in a pilgrimage walk around Stockton, exploring the four Dominican pillars of community, study, service and prayer. Each member of the community had a pilgrim’s passport and participated in various activities before having their passport stamped at different locations.

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Tracey Edstein Image
Tracey Edstein

Tracey Edstein is a member of the Raymond Terrace Parish and a freelance writer with a particular interest in church matters.