Student leaders urged to “go out of your comfort zone”

Since World Youth Day was held in Sydney in 2008, senior student leaders of diocesan secondary schools have gathered for a retreat early in their term as leaders.

Ministry Co-ordinator at All Saints College, Ms Helen Kearney, and Vicar General Fr Brian Mascord, have been instrumental in this initiative. Since arriving in 2011, Bishop Bill Wright has enjoyed meeting the leaders and supporting them in their significant roles.

Recently another step was taken when leaders from all six schools with a senior cohort joined Bishop Bill, Fr Brian and Ms Kearney, as well as other diocesan leaders and teachers, for dinner at the Victor Peters Suite, Newcastle West.

As well as enjoying a delicious three-course meal, leaders listened to wise words and leadership tales from Bishop Bill, Fr Brian, Director of Schools, Dr Michael Slattery and Caprice Skinner. Caprice is a former student of All Saints College, a participant in the 2016 Pastoral Placement Program and a self-confessed World Youth Day/Australian Catholic Youth Festival tragic!

While sharing tips for student leadership, the thrust was that the young women and men are leaders not only in their schools but for the diocese and the future. Reflecting on being in the heart of the ‘confirmation season’, Bishop Bill said that Jesus’ disciples – the children he’s confirming – and the leaders he was addressing − are all called to be “witnesses to the ends of the earth”.

Michael Slattery referred to many dimensions of leadership – ethical, authentic, transformative, collaborative – and highlighted the qualities of servant leadership. To be a leader, he said, is “not to be content with the status quo”.

Education Officer (Spirituality/Faith Formation) at the Catholic Schools Office, Bernadette Gibson, reflected that “Good leaders grow good leaders.”

Caprice Skinner acknowledged leaders who had influenced her and encouraged the students to “Go out of your comfort zone.”

Fr Brian thanked the speakers for “sharing their belonging” and said that “Leadership is about walking with people.”

Bishop Bill – who was school captain at St Aloysius’ College, Milsons Point, back in the day – said, “It’s not really about ‘will I look terrific?’”

The student leaders and their mentors will gather again later in the year.                


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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.

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