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Pastoral Care and Wellbeing

Restorative Justice Professional Development 2022

This semester, 17 staff across primary and secondary campuses attended a two-day professional development session that discussed restorative justice Principles, facilitated by Education Advisor, Engagement and Wellbeing, Michael Lincoln from the Catholic Education Office.

The principles and values that underpin restorative justice were examined and contrasted with non-restorative approaches to school discipline issues. Participants were able to become familiar with an approach and explicit language and were asked to practice using these principles to help students consider the impact of their actions on others and themselves, and hopefully, be guided towards better choices, and also to safeguard what we consider essential at St Michael’s; positive relationships.

Community, Challenge and Choice at St Michael’s is fundamentally about presence.

  • Am I/we present to others in ways that are inclusive and respectful (inclusion and equality)?
  • Am I/we present to others in ways that challenge injustice and inequality and support others to grow to see in themselves divinity ‘who is like God’?
  • Am I/we present to others in ways that they recognise that the Gospel message of love (inclusion and equality) has hold of my heart and guides my actions.

Belonging to the St Michael’s College community is asking of us more than kindness and goodness, it is asking us how we embody and share divine presence daily. Who am I as one like God, and how will I be toward others as one like God?

In navigating differences of opinion or navigating conflict and education, being able to work and live to a system of restorative justice principles is integral to these questions so that all members of the community can live to the intentions we share and do our best to live by. In this way, compassionate justice can prevail, education can be prioritised, and relationships can be strengthened.

Tonia Carfora, Year 7-9 Wellbeing Initiatives Leader

Year 7-9 Wellbeing Character Strength Focus

Week 3: Spirituality

Spirituality is a complex and important strength for our wellbeing, and one we continue to develop, as all others, over a lifetime. No culture lives in isolation of spirituality; it’s an important part of our human existence.

Brené Brown, author, first defined spirituality in her book The Gifts of Imperfection as “recognising and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us, and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion. Practicing spirituality brings a sense of perspective, meaning and purpose to our lives.”

In recent years, we can say hand over heart, that our ability to support each other has been an important resource; a spiritual experience for all of our community. As a community we take pride in our connectedness and our ability to come together, particularly in moments of celebration or challenge– knowing, valuing and caring for each other. It’s when we seem to be at our best as people, and this is true in most contexts.

For most of us the spiritual journey is not neat and linear; in fact at times it can be quite the rollercoaster. Over our lifetime, we often struggle with it, leading toward greater wholeness of our spirituality; becoming who we are. Sometimes, when we least expect it, important and or incidental moments will lead to an ‘awakening’- perhaps with others, alone or in nature.

Being open to seeing the connections and stronger spirituality or being open to learning and exploring more about Catholic Spirituality and Christian faith may connect with us. We can also be nurtured by our community prayer in the Lasallian tradition as we say together “Let Us Remember we are in the Holy Presence of God.”

Stopping for a moment each day to be present and observant, is a good way to start. Being mindful of who and what is around us and not taking things for granted are building blocks for spirituality and help us to know, value and care for each other and our world. Really taking the time to engage with each other showing others that we can see them, we are with them, we would like to help them, and we enjoy being with them is a game changer, and it affirms the inspiring words of Kent Hoffman “every person has infinite worth’, in his TED Talk

These days, the internet and our phones are overflowing with apps and sites that can help with this… it’s a click away.

In the end, we all seek to make sense of our world and our place in it, and it makes sense that we are positioned to flourish when we are able to feel a sense of connectedness with others and with something larger than ourselves. This is spirituality, in a nutshell.

Week 4: Humility

Some people might mistakenly think that humility is associated with weakness, but in actual fact, it’s more about strength. When we think of strong examples of humility, we often think about giants… Einstein, Ghandi, Pope Francis, Mother Teresa, St John Baptist de La Salle, Jesus. The list goes on. They are people whose actions speak louder than words. They talk/talked the talk and walk/walked the walk.

Humility can be hard to describe. But what it isn’t, is — boasting, seeking the spotlight or thinking we are better than others. This doesn’t mean that we undervalue our own gifts; humble people appreciate their skills and who they are, but they are also aware of gaps in their knowledge and are mindful of areas for growth. They keep their abilities in perspective and use them to raise people up, rather than put them down. They appreciate the value of things and people around them and understand that each of us can contribute to our world in different ways. There is a sense of self-assuredness without having to be the centre of attention- they live the view that each of us has ‘infinite worth’ and that each of us matters, absolutely.

We are human. We don’t always find it easy to place others’ needs ahead of our own; perhaps it’s part of our survival DNA in some way, though we often do it for our children instinctively. Spirituality can also be a challenging strength to work on because it’s true that we all enjoy positive affirmation – it’s one of the premises of social media platforms- the ‘likes’ that can be so addictive, sending us shots of dopamine. Despite this, it’s also true that being humble can also boost our wellbeing and can really make a tangible difference to our world, and to those around us.

As we approach the Christmas season, it’s a perfect time to be thinking about both our spirituality and our humility, across the various domains in our life. We have a great example of these strengths, front and centre, in Jesus. We can work towards being his hands, eyes, ears and heart. We can spend some time considering how we can share our resources and use our talents and gifts to benefit those all around us, including the wider world; knowing, valuing and caring for each other.

Wishing you a safe and happy fortnight ahead!

Tonia Carfora, Year 7-9 Wellbeing Initiatives Leader