Principal’s Update 2016 – 10

A warm welcome to Term 3. We have a very significant and busy term ahead of us.

Dominican Education Australia (DEA) will be formally launched this term for all Dominican schools in Eastern Australia and South Australia. For Santa Sabina College, St Lucy’s and the Catherine Sullivan Centre, the launch will take place on Thursday, 18 August at 4.30pm. There will be representatives of all sections of each of these communities as well as Catholic Religious representatives of the Archdiocese. The following extract encapsulates the vision and charism common to all Dominican schools within the DEA:

The Dominican ideal is characterised by a commitment to truth explored in dialogue, a vibrant preaching of the Gospel, a critical appreciation of culture and cultures, and a love of the beautiful. Our goal in each of our educational ministries is to foster these values, together with a spirit of prayer and contemplation, respect for the dignity and uniqueness of each person, and the pursuit of excellence.

The Jubilee ‘Journey’ Concert to be held at St Brigid’s Church Marrickville this Thursday, 21 July is ideally timed for this significant moment in the life of Santa Sabina College. The original compositions trace the journeys of the Dominicans throughout the world, and specifically of the Dominican Sisters to Eastern Australia. A concert such as this involves a huge amount of preparation and rehearsal and I thank parents and staff for their support of this endeavour. We will also have the opportunity to view and appreciate the Kopanang ‘Canticle of the Universe’ – intricately embroidered panels that tell the story of the universe as interpreted by seventeen women of the Kopanang Community Trust in South Africa, under the guidance of Dominican Sister, Sheila Flynn. This beautiful work of art is a declaration of the human spirit overcoming enormous difficulty and of their creativity and faith in an impoverished HIV/AIDS impacted community. The Canticle will be on display at the concert at St Brigid’s, before it is transported the following day back to Melbourne and then home to the Mariposa Musuem in New York in August.

The College will host this year’s Australian Music Day, sponsored by ABC Limelight Magazine and Richard Gill OAM. Richard Gill will deliver an astounding compositional development experience for Year 11 Music 1 and Music 2 students, as well as for students in Years 8, 9 and 10. This opportunity is not just for Santa Sabina students – we are also expecting over 200 students from a range of different schools. Each student’s composition will be performed by a professional string quartet. Students are privileged to work in partnership with Australia’s best music educators and professional musicians.

The term break has been marked by very exciting educational opportunities for our students that can only happen with the support of our dedicated staff. Mrs Roseanne Sukkar led a team of twelve students from Years 7-9 to participate in the inaugural Space School Program, sponsored by the partnership of the Alliance of Girls’ Schools and Ivicon. We look forward to hearing first hand about this experience, and I thank Mrs Sukkar for her leadership and support of the students. Our Year 9/10 students participated in the Central Australia Immersion led again by Mrs Sue Liddell, and accompanied by Ms Annette Janssen and Mr Brandon Pettis. Thanks to all three for enabling this rich immersion opportunity to continue. As we continue to develop our Reconciliation Action Plan, we draw on the experiences and learning of the last decade of immersions. A small number of secondary students had the chance to represent the College at Common Ground at San Sisto College, Brisbane alongside their fellow Dominican students from Victorian and South Australian schools. Thanks to Mrs Melanie Van Der Meer for accompanying these students. Finally, thank you to all of the HSC teachers who offered workshops to our Year 12 students throughout the break. I know that they were appreciated by parents and students alike. Del Monte students also had a fantastic opportunity in the holiday break to attend a 4 day coding workshop on the Primary campus where they built an iPhone app.

We have recently appointed Mrs Michele Naughton as Director of Tallong campus, following Mr Brad Griffith’s decision to relocate to Toowoomba. While we are very sorry to see Brad leave, we are delighted at Michele’s appointment. She has had a very successful career in educational leadership and outdoor education, and was most recently the Director of the Canisius Centre of Ignatian Spirituality, Pymble. Michele is excited about bringing her skills and experience to Tallong, and looks forward to meeting members of the Santa Sabina community. Her first opportunities this term will be with the Mother-Child weekend on Friday 19 August to Sunday 21 August and Year 4 camp on Thursday 25 August to Friday 26 August.

We are half way through the academic year, but more importantly as a Catholic School, we are more than halfway through the Year of Mercy. Pope Francis said ‘I have decided to announce an Extraordinary Jubilee which has at its centre the mercy of God. It will be a Holy Year of Mercy. We want to live in the light of the word of the Lord: “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (cf. Lk 6:36)’.

Catholic School Principals were reminded of this challenge at the Catholic Secondary Principals Australia Conference (CaSPA) which took place in Melbourne during the term break. If mercy is to be practised it first needs to be understood. Mercy is not tolerance and it is certainly not ‘one size fits all’. Mercy as embodied in Jesus is healing, listening, forgiving, perseverance and openness. It is a very concrete response to people in need. Pope Francis asks us to reach out to both Judaism and Islam, recognising that both consider mercy to be one of God’s most important attributes. In our current political context – locally and globally – that call to be open, and to reach out across the divides, can be particularly challenging but is more important than ever. Canadian Catholic philosopher and theologian speaks to us in ways that place the challenge within our reach; ‘But let us not put our sights too high. We do not have to be saviours of the world. We are simply human beings, enfolded in weakness and in hope, called together to change our world one heart at a time.’ (Becoming Human, 163)

Dr Maree Herrett