Good afternoon Salesians, students and staff,
A warm welcome to today’s Term 1 Assembly, an important event in our calendar to celebrate our term as a community and the Easter story.
In recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ spiritual and cultural connection to Country and a commitment to Reconciliation, I acknowledge the First Peoples and the Traditional Owners and custodians of the Country.
I respectfully acknowledge our Elders past, present and emerging and remember that they have passed on their wisdom to us in various ways. Let us hold this in trust as we work and serve our communities.
At Salesian College Chadstone, like other Salesian schools, we believe we are challenged to be:
- A home that welcomes
- A parish that evangelises
- A school that prepares for life
- A playground where friends meet and enjoy themselves
The concept of school as home is indeed unique in education. The Salesian ‘Way’ of educating is very explicit – “like St John Bosco the educator, we offer you, the young people the Gospel of Joy, through a Pedagogy of Kindness”. Our Oratory program, House system and Bosco and Mannix campuses offer structural expressions of school as ‘home’.
I want you to take a moment for you to consider a sense of home.
What does a home sound like, feel like, look like?
We each come from different types of homes; structural, family types, cultural backgrounds and religious beliefs and rituals; some environments welcoming, caring and loving, and I acknowledge that others may not be.
So, what makes our school distinctly a ‘home’?
It is a sense of kindness, compassion, love, care, respect and belonging that permeates through all aspects of the ‘life’ of our school, especially in the classrooms and in the school yard.
We have much to celebrate in our community this term.
- The breadth of learning and engagement across subjects
- Opening school mass
- Year 7 camp
- Year 12 formal
- Opening mass with the Archbishop at St Patrick’s Cathedral
- Year 9 resilience project
- Reconciliation masses
- Liverpool FC International Academy launch
- Division 1 ACC Cricket Champions
- Music Camp
- Ash Wednesday
- Student Congress
- International women’s day celebrations
- BBQ fundraiser for the Saltbush Foundation
- Pat Cronin Foundation presentations
- Shrove Tuesday pancakes
- Applied learning bake sale and world’s greatest shave
- House athletics and swimming carnivals that led into our most successful ACC Championship results
- Production rehearsals
St Francis de Sales said, “Be who you are and be that well”.
Individual students have used their talents to the best of their abilities across all of these events and activities this term.
Well done and thank you.
From my experience in education, this sharing of our talents occurs if it is a safe, joyful and inclusive environment…aspects that encompass a ‘home’.
The most pleasing aspect of our Salesian community is individual students are willing to participate because they are encouraged and feel supported by their peers and teachers. During Term 1, I have witnessed an enthusiasm for learning, and students supporting others to be the best they can be.
Extending a warm welcome, supporting a younger student through the peer mentoring program, acting to make our yard free of rubbish and supporting a Year 7 in transition are examples I have witnessed in our community. Each of example of serving others align with our values of respect, belonging and integrity. This willingness to care for others as well as help serve our community gives me great hope for our future as a community as each try to foster a sense of ‘home’ here at Chadstone for all students.
Don Bosco created the same sense of ‘home’ when he welcomed boys off the street in Turin. Shortly after Don Bosco was ordained a priest, he was asked to continue post-ordination studies in Turin. There he immediately came across groups of young people, with little or nothing to do, getting into trouble with the law, and ending up in prison. He visited many of them in places that were not fit even for animals!
So, Don Bosco decided to gather these boys together to prevent them from going to gaol. He called these gatherings (mainly on Sundays) “ORATORY”. While the number of boys increased every week, Don Bosco did not have a permanent place for his Oratory. Due to the noisy nature of the gatherings, Don Bosco and his boys were evicted from several places, until one Sunday, when he had to tell the boys that he did not have a place for them to meet in the future. But then, out of the blue, an elderly gentleman came to speak to Don Bosco. This gentleman had on offer a large paddock and a shed nearby. Don Bosco accepted the offer and paid the rent in advance. Then he told the boys to come back the following Sunday, to that paddock.
Incidentally, that Sunday when the boys returned to the paddock was Easter Sunday in 1846. Don Bosco eventually bought the whole property, and the Salesians have occupied that site to this day! The permanent home of the Oratory began to function on the day of the Resurrection – Easter Sunday.
Our Oratory today is your home…a place where you can be yourself and be supported.
During the past 40 days we have been preparing for Jesus’ death and the celebration of the resurrection of the Lord. Jesus spent time in the desert where he was hungry and thirsty, but remained resolute in his trust in God. Lent is the time where we are able to reflect of our faith, prepare for what it means and to make our minds and hearts ready for remembering Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, thus guaranteeing that the final destiny of all believers is the resurrection and the after-life.
Today, Holy Thursday, marks the end of Lent’s almsgiving, fasting, and prayer, and the beginning of the Easter Triduum, when we contemplate Jesus’ dying and rising for our sins and God’s plan of redemption for the world.
Holy Thursday is one of our holiest days. God’s gift of undeserved, unconditional, and unifying love is demonstrated for us to contemplate.
On this night we recall Jesus’ commandment to love one another, his washing of the disciples’ feet and the breaking of the bread of his own life, not just at table, but also on the altar of the Cross, for the healing and nourishment of the world.
There’s no real story of the Last Supper in the Gospel of John, as we would find in the other Gospels. There is no passing of the bread or passing of the cup. Instead we come upon the story of Jesus on his knees washing the Apostles’ feet.
During the Last Supper, Jesus demonstrates this love. The Gospel says he rises from the table, takes a towel, and ties it around his waist (Jn 13:4). He then begins to wash the feet of his disciples, one by one. We know that Jesus humbled himself to share in our humanity, but in the washing of the feet — a task typically reserved for slaves — Jesus acts more intimate and self-humbling than ever before; an act far more significant than a simple show of kindness.
Contemplating the foot washing scene is not complete without also considering its backdrop. Jesus knows Judas will betray him and that, in the coming hours, each one of his closest friends will fail him. And so, Jesus is not surprised when Peter first refuses to have his feet washed.
Peter symbolises all of us as he protests, ‘You will never wash my feet!’ (John 13:8). But Jesus answers, ‘If I do not wash you, you can have nothing in common with me’.
Peter is bewildered, unprepared to receive this generous act of love.
Sometimes we think that we are being heroic in not letting God love us. We want to do the loving thing ourselves. Fr Joe spoke of this during our reconciliation liturgy early this week when we may call upon God, only in times of need.
Yet only when Peter capitulates and allows Jesus to minister to him, does he experience the meaning of Jesus. He has to let Jesus kneel down before him as servant. John is saying that Jesus wants to do that for all of us.
The disciples feel unworthy of Jesus unconditional love, but it is not theirs to deserve. Despite their shortfalls and inadequacies, Jesus freely gives them the gift of his love.
It is at this supper, in the presence of his closest companions, that Jesus offers himself as the Passover sacrifice. “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me… This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me” (1 Cor 11:24-25). Jesus gives his greatest gift in the sacrament of the Eucharist, a gift that makes us sharers in his body and blood, unified to form one single body.
God embraces us despite our weaknesses and imperfections – this is the beauty of Holy Thursday.
Eucharist and the resurrection of Jesus helps us to see how our faith allows us to set aside our doubts and differences, and know that we are not broken through His love for us and through the light of the world that is Jesus. God meets our frailty with love, without judgement or exclusion. God’s love is given to us without distinction, unconditional, and unifying love for us. “I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do (Jn 13:15).” He is the only Son of God, who through this amazing resurrection, brings us closer to God and our faith by giving us hope in divine and human love, kindness, and compassion.
The connection between the Eucharist and Christian love is expressed in serving one another. Christ is not only present in the Eucharist but also in the deeds of loving kindness offered to others through us.
How will you demonstrate loving kindness to others?
We are the ones who make ‘real’ the presence of Jesus in every smile, kind word and loving action.
Let us ask for the grace to respond to God’s call to love one another in our relationships in our ‘home’ at Chadstone.
You humbled yourself as a servant for my sake,
giving yourself as food and drink and stooping down to wash the feet of your friends.
Help me to imitate you,
To love all your children as you have loved me.
Help me to pour myself out into love for the service of others.
Help me to embrace the call to true friendship: to lay down my needs and wants to lay down my desire for control or status,
to truly lay down my life for my friends.
Let my life be one that preaches your Gospel in actions more than words.
Open me up to your boundless love
that I may be open to the places in my life
where you are stooping down to wash my feet
so I may wash the feet of others.
Amen. (Prayer by Tony Alonso)
I wish each of you all the blessings of the Easter Season.
May you have
- The gladness of Easter which is hope
- The promise of Easter which is peace
- The spirit of Easter which is love.
Have a wonderful and safe holiday with family and friends.