Identity News

Shining a light on Ash Wednesday

We began our Lenten journey on Ash Wednesday in prayer gathered in our homerooms reflecting on the Lenten commitment statements made in our Religious Education classes. Students reflected on ways they could commit to the following statements reflecting our 2024 theme, ‘To let your light shine through service to others’ (Matthew 5:16).

This Lent, I will let my light shine by promising to…

I will help others by…

They were burnt and the ashes were blessed and used to mark a cross on our foreheads. The anointing with ashes, which is the key element of this day’s ritual, is a reminder of our responsibility as individuals and as communities to keep alive the discipleship that our baptism committed us to. The ritual of baptism also involves tracing a cross on our foreheads, with the fragrant oil of chrism rather than burnt ashes.

Our preparation lesson helped us to focus on the understanding that as a Catholic school in the Edmund Rice tradition, we are called to reflect on the social justice teachings of the Church for a hope filled future for generations to come. We all belong to one human family, regardless of our nationality, religious, ethnic, economic, political and ideological differences. Through shining a light on and reflecting on the families featured on the 2024 CARITAS Project Compassion site, we show solidarity with our neighbours in need, near and far in prayer and alms giving, which are practical ways of giving support such as:

Through our generous support of Edmund Rice Day, part of our funds go to Caritas Australia and Manya in East Africa to empower young people to build a just future for themselves, their families and their communities.

Pope Francis on Ash Wednesday 2017, suggested the following wise actions to fast from to create positive change during our Lenten journey:

Fast from hurtful words and speak kind words.
Fast from sadness and be filled with gratitude.
Fast from anger and be filled with patience.
Fast from pessimism and be filled with hope.
Fast from worries and have trust in God.
Fast from complaints and contemplate simplicity.
Fast from pressures and be prayerful.
Fast from bitterness and fill your heart with joy.
Fast from selfishness and be compassionate.
Fast from grudges and be reconciled.
Fast from words; be silent so you can listen.

May we be a community this Lent who finds the time to pause and shine a light in service to others and our God by following this LENTEN acrostic poem:

Live each day fully by being present to each moment.

Encourage and affirm the efforts and talents of others.

Notice the presence of God in the natural world and in others around you.

Talk to God every day in order to build a closer relationship.

Year of Prayer

Pope Francis proposed that 2024 be marked as a year dedicated to prayer in preparation for the Jubilee 2025. The Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools (MACS) Daily Prayer resources will support both individual and community prayer in the Year of Prayer 2024. In addition, the Dicastery for Evangelization will publish a series of prayer notebooks, with material taken from the many forms of prayer to be found in the rich Catholic tradition. On 15 March, a group of students will attend the annual Catholic Education Week events including:

Mass of St Patrick for Schools, Concert in the Park, Young Speakers Colloquium and the Creative Arts Exhibition.

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council Acknowledgment Plaque

On the 16th Anniversary of the apology to Australia’s First Nations peoples, St Joseph’s College displayed a plaque designed by the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council to embody healing and mutual respect between First Nations peoples and non-Indigenous peoples within the Catholic Church in Australia. I met with Shirley Quaresimin, the Deputy Chairperson of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council, in Broome at the NAIDOC Mass last year. She is a strong woman of faith. The plaque is a symbol of welcome for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and an acknowledgement that there is an understanding of Australia’s past. We prayed on that day to our Creator God, may you comfort all those whose history on this land is a story of hurt and pain. May we learn from our mistakes and act with justice and compassion as we remember the story of those who have gone before us and to ensure the future is one of peace, reconciliation and harmony for all who walk this land.

The main logo on the plaque was designed by the Murri Ministry (Brisbane, Queensland) to depict black and white coming together and growing in faith and respect for one another. Aboriginal artwork has, for thousands of years, used symbolism to display deep and complex concepts that are interpreted through the lens of culture and spirituality learned from Elders. The plaque artwork uses colour as a simplified point of difference to symbolise all of the diversity and gifts of humankind. All Parishes, schools and organisations that display this plaque, or any other form of Acknowledgment will be become a Partner in Faith with NATSICC and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholics. This is another positive step in our Reconciliation Action Plan.

Mary Malone
Director of Identity