Dear St Michael’s College Community,
Year 12 Retreat
As mentioned last week, the Year 12 Retreat was finally able to proceed with the Year 12 cohort venturing off in three groups to Normanville, Wallaroo and Walkers Flat.
Our thanks to Robert Dempsey, Director of Mission, who manages the Retreat process and works tirelessly to ensure the students and staff enjoy this experience. Robert’s reflection below highlights another successful College event.
It was a fantastic experience to go away with our Year 12 students on Retreat last week. The students who attended engaged with the program is a positive manner able to get out of the ‘big smoke’ to reflect on life, family, friends and faith. The decision to reschedule the Retreat after it was not possible to go in Term 1 due to COVID restrictions, was a brave call at the time, however our feedback suggests it was very worthwhile for students and staff.
I would like to thank the 25 staff who attended and all the staff who supported to make the Retreats possible. The students were extremely engaged and a credit to their families, and I thank them for the way they cooperated and embraced the opportunities presented. It was a tremendous community building event that will be remembered by students for years to come.
Mr Robert Dempsey, Director of Mission
“The Year 12 Retreat was a fantastic experience that was a highlight of my Year 12 experience. The 3-day retreat allowed us, students, to gain stronger bonds with our year level and brought us all together closer than we have ever been. I love the way everyone really took advantage of the experience and allowed themselves to be fully involved to get the most out of the experience. A highlight for me was the liturgy on the second night. The liturgy allowed me to learn so much about my fellow peers and brought to light just how little you know about people and the importance of not judging a book by its cover.”
“To be honest I was a little reluctant to go on Retreat because I had so many commitments and assignments! But all the Year 12 teachers were really encouraging and kept saying it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. So I decided to go! Now I’m so glad I went. It was definitely one of the best experiences of my life and I would have liked to stay longer with my friends and teachers. For me, the highlight was getting to know other Year 12 students that I haven’t spoken to before. We came together in small groups and told everyone about our past and our personal stories and it was so interesting. My group was at Wallaroo so the night walks, camp fires and beach activities were fantastic to help me relax and have a break from all the pressure of my part-time job and Year 12 schoolwork.”
“The Year 12 Retreat was an amazing opportunity to build connections with others and reflect on what’s most important in my life. Year 12 is a very busy year for students, with the pressure of dealing with deadlines, exams, and juggling schoolwork with personal time, it can become a bit of a handful. The retreat allowed me to learn the importance of taking a mental break, taking the time to explore some ‘me time’ and reflecting on my connections with friends and loved ones. A key highlight of my retreat experience was creating new relationships with others during various activities and free time which allowed me to expand my friendship group and build a community.”
Every year Australia celebrates our refugee communities and our diversity during Refugee Week, and every year a different theme is chosen to help us understand some important issues that refugees face. This year the theme is HEALING. Since the Covid pandemic, Australia and the rest of the world have a chance to hit the reset button on how we behave towards one another. The importance of human connections has been underscored by the pandemic and we have all learned to value our face-to-face relationships even more. This is the first time we’ve been able to celebrate Refugee Week as a college community since Covid and is an opportunity for us to come together to heal wounds, to learn from each other and to move forward together.
Healing can occur through storytelling, so some of our Beyond Borders students have recorded their personal stories to share. Healing can occur through community, so our students were excited to share some of their favourite traditional dishes with staff at lunch this week.
Healing can occur through sport, so our soccer-mad Beyond Border students challenged their teachers to a 5-a-side-non-contact-indoor-soccer match, with Sr Nithya as the staff goal keeper. The staff unfortunately lost by 1 goal. And finally, our Beyond Borders students have also written personal prayers to be read each day during Pastoral Class.
On Monday and Tuesday of this week, 21 staff were involved in a formation program for staff new to Lasallian schools that introduces them to the story, spirituality and innovative pedagogy of Lasallian education and ministry and its application to the contemporary Catholic school and to the work of Yourtown. Drawing upon the shared wisdom and experience of the participants, the program explores the Lasallian educational mission as a mission of the Church and presents insights into the charism of the founder, St John Baptist de La Salle.
The College appreciates the interstate presenters Br John Cantwell and Philippe Dulawan for facilitating the program.
Mr Damian Patton