RAY COLLINS: Witnesses to the ends of the earth

This last weekend we celebrated the feast of The Ascension, marking Jesus leaving his disciples and ascending to the Father. He left behind a rather puzzled and confused group of disciples who had just asked him “Lord, has the time come? Are you going to restore the kingdom of Israel?”.

His reply must have challenged them even more, as he required them to think beyond their local circumstances and to spread his message throughout the world.

“…but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and then you will be my witnesses not only in Jerusalem but throughout Judaea and Samaria, and indeed to the ends of the earth”.

With those words, Jesus set the disciples on a path that would indeed reach the ends of the earth, encompassing all nations.

Last week, the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle took one small step on that continuing path of spreading the Gospel message to all those who seek a Catholic education with Bishop Bill unveiling the foundation stone and the naming of the new Catholic Secondary school to be built at Chisholm, a new suburb on the outskirts of Maitland.

St Bede’s Catholic College, Chisholm will be a Years 7-12 Co-educational Secondary School and will fill an important need in the growing area of Chisholm and North Thornton.

The Patron of the College, St Bede, is a Doctor of the Church and to this day the only one from an English speaking country. He is famous for his wisdom and writings, publishing 60 books including his Ecclesiastical History of the English People.  He has been called the “Father of English History” but was also responsible for writings on Theology, Science, Mathematics and Cosmology.

The name of St Bede was referred to Bishop Bill by the Project Implementation Committee (PIC) which is responsible for much of the planning for the school including the provision of an education brief for the architect, initiating the process for selecting a principal, consultation with our facilities team, overseeing a competitive process for the selection and engagement of an architect and for researching a list of possible names for the school.

St Bede was suggested by the representatives of the Morpeth Parish on the PIC, as St Bede was the patron of the first permanent Church in Morpeth back when the town was a busier port than Newcastle and was referred to as “the food bowl of the colony”.

Bishop Bill was delighted with the names put forward by the PIC but in the end the local history connection with St Bede and his representation of high academic endeavour in the areas of faith, theology, history, literature, mathematics and the sciences were the factors informing  St Bede’s choice as patron of the College. It is hoped his inspiration will ensure both staff and students will pursue the highest standards of excellence in all aspects of College life.

The Catholic Schools Office is now undertaking the process of choosing the Foundation Principal of the College who will share with the staff, yet to be appointed, the task of continuing the work of the first disciples, being witnesses to the message of Jesus “to the ends of the earth”.

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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