RAY COLLINS: 2015 Year in Review Report

In 2015, Catholic schools continued to offer students and their families a faith-filled educational experience, where each individual’s growth was nurtured in an environment characterised by care.

Catholic schools maintained their commitment to fostering the partnership of parishes, parents and staff in their children’s education, teaching students respect for each other and the broader community through active participation in social justice issues, the service of others and the promotion of peace.

We marked special occasions such as National Reconciliation Week with informative, thoughtful commemorations and schools continued to show their commitment by contributing to the diocese’s record sum of almost $260,000 for Caritas Australia’s 2015 Project Compassion.

During 2015, staff continued to offer outstanding educational experiences for students characterised by faith, hope and love. This was particularly evident during the annual Called to Serve Mass where new teachers were commissioned by Bishop Bill Wright and staff members recognised for their commitment to, and excellence in, education.

In March 2015, the Diocese of Maitland- Newcastle officially opened a new primary school at Chisholm. Named for the patron saint of youth, St Aloysius Catholic Primary School was opened and blessed by Bishop Bill with the Hon Bob Baldwin MP, Member for Paterson.

At the beginning of Term 3, the Catholic Schools Office announced that new Years 7-12 high schools will be built at both Chisholm and Medowie, commencing in 2018 and 2020 respectively.

At the same time, it was announced that in 2018, St Joseph’s Campus, Lochinvar and St Mary’s High School, Gateshead will grow from offering Years 7-10 to offering Years 7-12.

The announcements were among 12 recommendations to emerge from a study commissioned by Bishop Bill into the provision of secondary education in the Diocese of Maitland- Newcastle. All 12 recommendations are significant and present new, positive opportunities for Catholic education.

In May, the Newcastle Catholic Schools Trade Training Centre (TTC) facilities were officially opened and blessed. St Francis Xavier’s College is the lead school of a cluster group of schools, including St Paul’s, Booragul; San Clemente, Mayfield; St Pius X, Adamstown and St Mary’s, Gateshead, which received Commonwealth funding of more than $6.8 million to build TTCs providing state-of-the-art Vocational Education and Training resources.

In August, our diocese hosted a visit from the Catholic Education Commission. The Commissioners gathered, participated in a tour of schools and also met with clergy, principals and school leaders. Mass was celebrated at Sacred Heart Cathedral with the Chair of the CEC, Bishop Peter Comensoli, presiding.

Stranger Than Fiction was the ASPIRE production for 2015. The audience was taken on a journey between fiction and reality and treated to spectacular dancing, singing and acting, complemented by a stunning set and costuming, all made possible thanks to a dedicated back-stage crew and hard working team of ensemble directors, co-ordinated by Creative Director, Anna Kerrigan.

Also at the Civic Theatre this year was DIOSOUNDS which showcases the outstanding musical talents and skills of students ranging in age from 12 to 18 years. This year, the annual music festival involved more than 350 students from all 11 high schools performing in front of some 3000 people.

There were many key sporting moments, not to mention academic, science and engineering achievements, environmental initiatives and debating success.

What schools can achieve in one year is exceptional. Staff are constantly working towards forming students as adults who are able to make an active, worthwhile contribution to their world. Thank you to all students, parents, staff, clergy and parishioners for their active participation and commitment to Catholic education. I invite you to learn more about the good things that happen daily in our schools by visiting www.mn.catholic.edu.au.

Article originally published in the the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle Year in Review 2015

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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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