RAY COLLINS: A light for the nations

The First Reading of the Sunday Masses of the Easter Season have been taken from the Acts of the Apostles and provide us with many insights into the life of the early Christian Church following Jesus’ Resurrection and Ascension and the descent of the Holy Spirit on the disciples.

The readings reflect the challenges the disciples faced in the Church’s earliest days, as they were challenged by the High Priests and at times quarrelled amongst themselves in relation to which aspects of the Jewish tradition would be maintained in this post resurrection community.

They also relate the work of St Peter as the early leader of the Church and the way he was sought out, particularly by the sick and infirmed.

The readings also highlight the work of St Paul and St Barnabas as they travel through modern day Syria and Turkey engaging in conversions and meeting with the early Christian communities.

To this day, pilgrimages with the theme of following "In the Footsteps of St Paul" are regularly undertaken from Jerusalem to Greece, contemplating the work of the disciples as they spread the message of Jesus to the known world of that time.

In Acts 13: 47 St Paul proclaims to the people of Antioch:

For this is what the Lord commanded us to do when he said:

“I have made you a light for the nations, so that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”

In many ways, Catholic schools are called to continue this mission of the disciples to make the Good News known to all who seek a Catholic education. We do follow in the footsteps not only of Saints Peter and Paul and the early disciples but also in the footsteps of those who have heeded their words and followed them. In the case of our diocese, the Clergy and Religious Orders who established the Catholic school system we have today.

This week we take a significant step along the path of continuing that mission when Bishop Bill announces the name of the new Catholic High School to be built in the suburb of Chisholm, next door to St Aloysius Catholic Primary School. and unveils a plaque on the foundation stone of the school.

There are schools in our diocese named after St Peter and St Paul and the respective schools often reflect on the mission of these great saints in proclaiming their own purpose.

Bishop Bill holds a strong belief that the name of a school should be reflective of its purpose and that it provide inspiration and motivation to its staff and students in fulfilling its mission.

On Tuesday, the diocese will take a very positive step in proclaiming the first Catholic Secondary School to be built in the diocese in over 30 years and in naming it, will give emphasis to the important role that Catholic education plays in being “a light for the nations”.

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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