I can sometimes find this time of the year quite overwhelming, feelings shared by many I’m sure. In the lead up to Christmas and the end of the year, there are so many competing demands, mixed messages, contradictory expectations placed upon us, often making our lives stressful and frantic. Dealing with the weariness a full year’s work brings, whilst at the same time having extra demands placed on us sometimes feels impossible. Being told how wonderful this time of the year is, to be merry, to buy this and to do that all at the same time they are encouraging us to spend more time with our families, to party hard and the list goes on. Many of these things seem to be incompatible or in conflict with each other and it is for these reasons we can’t afford to lose sight of the beauty the Advent season brings us. So as the school year draws to a close and we deal with the business and associated stresses, as well as the excitement of completing the year, I encourage all in the community to slow down, take time to reflect on the miracle of the incarnation through the birth of Jesus.
It is too easy to allow ourselves to be busier now than at any other time of the year when we ought to be slowing down. The fever of correcting exams, finalising results, preparing family schedules, seeing to personal agendas of meetings, programs, parties and other obligations can take control our lives if we allow them to. This weekend marks the beginning of Advent, a very special part of the liturgical year for the Catholic Church. It is a time of preparation, of reflection and readying oneself for Christmas and the celebration of the birth of Jesus. I encourage all in our community to take time out from shopping, looking for car parks, decking the halls, making lists and the general madness that comes in the lead up to Christmas, to take a quiet moment to allow ourselves some peace and stillness. To look back on the year and recall the joys the year has blessed us with. Focus on the important things like our family and friends, our health, but most of all to reflect on the joy that the birth of Jesus brings into our lives.
As we ponder our blessings, especially those that come with living in a country such as Australia I encourage all in the community to think about the people less fortunate than ourselves in particular those afflicted by war and conflict, those people for whom Christmas is a lonely or stressful time and offer our thoughts and our prayers that they too may enjoy this wonderful time of the year. We hope and pray that all in our community will be contemplating using the upcoming Christmas break to spend some valuable time with their families, enjoying each other’s company and letting each other know how much they love them.
The importance of Advent for all of us, in particular those of us who are Christian can never be lost in the consumerism of the secular world. Advent can provide a vision of our lives and shows us the possibilities of life. Advent provides a time to look back to the first coming of Christ at Bethlehem, as well as looking to the future when Christ will come again. As we reflect on these two events we can find meaning for our life.
The incarnation Jesus Christ showed us what it means to be fully human, he demonstrated what life can and should be. He gave us true and valid principles and values to live by. His Spirit remains with us in community, lived out through the Church, the sacraments, the Scriptures and each other, keeping his vision of life before us. Advent is our time to become more involved, more caught up in the meaning and the possibilities of life as a community. Thus we are not only preparing for Christmas, rather trying to make our world a better place.
On Tuesday evening the College hosted in excess of 200 boys and their families who are to join us in Year 7 in 2019 for our Orientation Evening. In excess of 700 people gathered, marking the official beginning of their six year journey with us. It was a wonderful gathering with all in attendance leaving with a sense of joy and excitement as they look forward to being a Salesian boy. Parents spoke of the warmth of the welcome and the night being very informative. We look forward to working with these fine young men and their families in the coming years. Sharing a meal and getting to know each other was the perfect way to establish the positive relationships which will hold us in good stead over the coming years. I would like to thank all the staff involved in this wonderful gathering, in particular Mr Byron Chen, Mrs Michelle Collins, the Parents Association led by Lois and Tracey, the Maintenance staff and all the Year 7 Oratory leaders for all their work and preparation.
As the year comes to an end I would like to take the opportunity to thank the staff on the wonderful job they do year in year out, with this year being no exception. Their efforts have continued right up until the last minute, at events such as our Spring Concert, Orientation Evening, Salesian Captains’ Conference, and ACC Leadership Launch to mention but a few. It is hard for staff to truly appreciate their achievements at this time as they work feverishly behind the scenes, however it is our fond hope that when all settles down they will reflect on this year and come to understand the significant contribution to your boys and the community. It is not only the work they do in the classroom, it’s the extra mile they are willing to go, the sporting team they coach, the gentle word of encouragement they give, the time they give up for concerts and performances and all the other things they do with no reward other than the knowledge they are helping our boys develop to their full potential. This year has been made even more difficult by the building works which have had many of us in accommodation not really suitable for the jobs we have to do, however for the most part people have just got on with the job.
At this time of the year there are always farewells to make as some staff start a new part of their lives. For some it is continuing their careers in another educational setting, for others it’s the start of a completely new direction. We would like to farewell these staff and wish them all the best for 2019 and beyond. For those who are travelling we wish that all your dreams of adventures are more than you hope for, and for those taking up new positions, we wish you every success.
To all in the community we hope that you have a merry, restful, joyful and peaceful Christmas. We hope your new year gets off to the perfect start and you return to us renewed and refreshed for what is promising to be another great year here at Salesian College Chadstone.