Last week the Year 8 students celebrated their Renewal Day, where they took time to renew their body, mind and spirit by participating in a range of workshops. The Year 8 Renewals were a great success this year beginning with a liturgy that enabled our students to be educated on the importance of ‘Respectful Relationships’, the need to have the ‘Courage to Care to be Upstanders’ in their community, the importance interfaith dialogue and the benefits of mindfulness for our wellbeing. We were so pleased to welcome back the dedicated ‘Courage to Care’ team who this year celebrate their 30th Anniversary of Upstander education.

Our students were able to experience the traveling exhibition and education program that uses the Holocaust to explore racism, prejudice, stereotyping, and bullying and to highlight the Righteous Among the Nations and heroes of other genocides, inspiring students to reject the role of being a bystander and instead becoming upstanders. We had the special privilege of listening to a holocaust survivor Harry Better OAM in his eighties, who shared his childhood memories as a child during World War II. He told of the family who were upstanders who took him in to enable him to be able to share his message today that everyone has the ability to make a difference.

Student Reflections from 8I

“The Courage to Care workshop was the highlight of my day. Listening to the family stories of WWII survivors was incredibly moving. I still can’t fully comprehend how they were able to flee Poland and navigate parts of Europe. As a Year 8 cohort we were privileged to be able to listen to all the inspirational stories that were shared and just find out how lucky we are to live in the conditions we live in today.”

“Year 8 Renewals challenged us as a group to be Upstanders. We were challenged to be more inclusive and develop Respectful Relationships with all types of people. We were challenged to think beyond ourselves. We were challenged to remember the past to ensure it would never be repeated.”

“The Renewals program explored the similar beliefs most religions uphold like the Golden Rule: “Do onto others as you, yourself would want to be done to you”.

“During the final part of the day, the ‘Courage to Care’ group revealed the events of WW2, and the German persecution of Jews. Years with the fascist group: the Nazis in power, and the sadistic vision of Adolf Hitler attempting to annihilate a group of people he believed inferior. So, Mr. Hitler decided to create a systematic and slow but eventual annihilation of race, with simple gestures of not allowing them on public transport, buses, public chairs and to filed into concentration camps, dehumanizing them by naming them as numbers, making them forget their own names. Unfortunately, people did not stand up to this dictator, and a race of people suffered. As a cohort, we explored the importance of this, and how being an upstander for the smallest action can have the biggest impact. So, are you going to be an upstander?

Thanks to Belinda Milverton our Faith Development Coordinator for preparing the Year 8 Renewals reflecting our Touchstones of Social Justice, Inclusive Community, Liberating Education and Gospel Spirituality.

Refugee Week Theme Healing

In Week 9, Rachel Ivey our Refugee Coordinator, will launch our celebration of Refugee Week from Sunday 19 June - Saturday 25 June. This year the theme for Refugee Week is Healing. June 20 is the United Nations’ World Refugee Day. Students are encouraged to think about refugees and people seeking asylum with compassion, to move their understanding from the head to the heart and then to some form of action. One action we will take will be creating a Circle of Solidarity next Thursday 23 June at lunchtime. Together we will express our support and solidarity for refugees and people seeking asylum. We will gather to uphold our values of compassion and integrity, just as Edmund Rice would have done, and Jesus before him, who was a refugee himself.

The focus for Refugee week this year is, healing. As a result of the global pandemic, Australia and the rest of the world have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hit the reset button on how we behave towards one another. The importance of human connections has been underscored by the pandemic, and such lessons can help us in so many ways. Mainstream and refugee communities alike can draw upon shared hardship to heal wounds, to learn from each other and to move forward. Just as this week we have seen with Priya and Nade’s family return to the peace and safety back in the welcoming community of Biloela. Healing can occur through storytelling, through community and also through realisation of our intrinsic interconnectedness as individuals. 

The common theme is a reminder of our role as individuals and as a wider St Joseph’s community to engage with acts of healing and storytelling in an attempt to work towards rejuvenation. 2022 cannot just ‘be another year’. Let it be a year that allows us to heal together and emerge as a more fulfilled and connected society. This ties into our identity theme for 2022 from Matthew’s gospel 19:26 where, ‘Anything is possible with God’. Another action we invite you to take towards healing is to come along and support CRAG (Combined Refugee Action Group Geelong) by attending the film Scattered People this coming Tuesday 21 June in our St Joseph’s PAC with special guest speaker: Fran McAloon, Executive Member of CRAG. All proceeds going to CRAG. Former SJC staff member and CRAG volunteer, Kathy Jenkins will be there on the night and there are opportunities to buy raffle tickets. Movie tickets only $15. Purchase online

Artwork series by artist Bri Apma Hayes

The second panel of artwork we are sharing from Bri’s narrative series this week is titled ‘Culture’.

This yellow set has a few stories to tell that connect.

It tells the story of our rich culture and the things we share when we gather as one. The handprints represent ochre and painting up in significant times to dance, sing and share. The handprints have been done in a similar way to how you would see handprints in caves/on rocks as the ochre was put in your mouth and sprayed out over the hand as a stencil. The red and orange represent the fires we use to cleanse us, welcoming us to country and cleansing our moorroop (spirit).

The fire is also key to having healthy country with fire management and preserving country. This has been done for thousands of years and is important to keep country maintained. We lived in sync and harmony with the land, knowing the right amount to take and to give back. Our practices are some of the most sustainable.

The five green circles represent the Kulin Nations: Waddawurrung, Boonwurrung, Dja Wurrung, Taungurung and Wurundjeri. Bri Apma Hayes