Over the past few months we’ve noted what different Principals have shared about their experience at the Catholic Education Convention 2018. Below, we have compiled some of the responses as a reminder that what we take on board during opportunities such as Convention, must be passed on and reflected in our daily practice to be truly effective.
Kaumata Turei Thompson who welcomed us at the beginning of the Convention on Wednesday morning, spoke to us about Matariki being the season of reflection and looking back and how we often look up to the skies to see the stars. He shared with us that Mata Ariki means “Face of God” and that we don’t need to look up but to look to each other as the “Face of God”. We are Mata Ariki and have the “twinkles and sparkles” right in front of us every day, in our Learning Communities, in our staffroom, in our school community and in our parishes! He then challenged us to BE Mata Ariki to those whom we encounter each day! It has been a great mantra to keep before us as we live out the Convention theme of Christ’s Call: to love, to be, to do!
Holy Trinity Catholic School, Takanini
The theme of the conference was; Christ’s Call: to love, to be, to do. I have been reminded yet again of the importance of living our faith in action in our everyday lives.
St Peter Chanel School, Green Island
One of the highlights for me was a tour of the places in Suzanne Aubert’s life. Having Aubert a as whānau name at Marcellin gave me a stronger connection to her story. She was an amazing woman who set up orphanages and also creches for children while mothers worked, provided a soup kitchen which is still running 117 years later in Wellington, and looked after the poor and those in need, amongst many other works. We went to the Home of Compassion where she lies, and prayed at her tomb. Suzanne Aubert is on the journey to being Aotearoa’s first saint. She has already been declared Venerable, the next step is to be Blessed and then finally Sainthood. Suzanne Aubert was very much focused on the Kingdom of God and making it visible to those around her. It was fitting then that this Sunday’s readings were about the Kingdom of God being in the midst of us. It is true because every time we go to Mass we gather at the Tables of the Word and Eucharist and Jesus is present and nourishes us in Word and Sacrament. What we receive is what we are and what we become is what we have received, the Body and Blood of Christ!
Marcellin College, Auckland
Matariki is the Māori name for the cluster of stars also known as the Pleiades. It rises in mid-winter and for Māori, it heralds the start of a new year. I appreciated Matariki being recognised during the welcoming ceremony
Kaumata Turei Thompson surprised the gathering by singing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” during his welcoming address. While drawing our attention to the message of the song, he made great links between the Pleiades cluster of stars and the capacity for all of the students in our Catholic schools to twinkle or shine. This is certainly something we as a school community want to foster in all our children.
Holy Family School, Wanaka
The focus of the conference was reminding those involved with Catholic Education in NZ to support students to see the joy and love of Jesus in all that we do in our schools, so that every day students will encounter Christ in our school and develop a relationship with the Gospel. We listened to some very engaging speakers including David Wells who asked us to give our children the memory of our smile – they need to know where our joy comes from.
St Joseph’s School, Kaikoura
We had outstanding international speakers and workshops showcasing best practice within our Catholic schools. A key theme through the convention was “joy” and the importance of celebrating our roles in Catholic Education. We can be very proud of our Catholic School-Network and be confident in the excellence that our Catholic Schools deliver across New Zealand.
Marian Catholic School, Hamilton
The key presenters were first rate including Fr Daniel Horan from the United States, Prof David Hall from Australia, David Wells from England and Dame Therese Walsh. It was wonderful to see all the Bishops and the Cardinal there. They showed their strong commitment to education. One of the messages from the convention was that Catholic schools are places where young people and community meet to ensure most important things are acknowledged and prioritised. Otherwise, we are just another state school.
Kavanagh College, Dunedin
The convention was the jolt we needed to be reminded of the reason we are committed to igniting the passion and inspiring our young women to change the world. In the midst of our business, we were reminded by international speakers that teaching is hard work because it’s ‘heart work’: that ‘I am because we are’ that there is no ‘individual Christian contract’ because we thrive in community and to cheer up because we have good news and it’s a message of joyful hope!
Sacred Heart Girls’ College, Hamilton
We had the pleasure of listening to Dame Therese Walsh DNZM on the topic of “A Corporate Take on Catholic Leadership” and another Keynote by Daniel Horan. Daniel spoke about the “The Joy of Christian Foolishness: Responding to Christ’s Call to Discipleship in the Age of Pope Francis’ The main message was about being joyful, and the joy of teaching, being in a relationship with God and going the extra mile.
Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Auckland
We heard from an interesting mix of international and New Zealand speakers who challenged, entertained and motivated us to continue with our work in our school developing our students as young Catholics, who are learning about and living out the Word of the Gospel in their daily lives. It was also wonderful to network with so many from other schools on the same path as us and feel a strong sense of belonging to a very committed community.
The call for us as a Catholic school is to be “intentional” about building Catholic Schools that are:
- Centered in the person of Jesus Christ
- Contribute to the evangelising mission of the church
- Distinguished by excellence
- Committed to educate the whole child
- Steeped in a Catholic worldview
- Sustained by Gospel witness
- Shaped by communion and community
- Accessible to all students
- Established by the expressed authority of the Bishop
St Joseph’s School, Temuka
The keynote speakers were all inspirational with messages of hope, community, creativity, imagination and holistic education.
Keynote, David Wells, with his first captivating seminar titled ‘Cheer up. You look like you’re sucking a lemon!’ was such a hit that people had to be turned away from his second one. In this seminar he was as entertaining as the title, with a wonderful message of how Pope Francis repeatedly turns our attention to the virtue of joy. David had the audience moving from hilarity to tears as he unpacked the Pope’s message about the virtue of joy, why we need it, what it can do to transform us and our schools, and what it can do to help people flourish.
Ss. Peter and Paul School, Lower Hutt
Key messages from the keynote speakers:
- You can’t walk the path of Christianity by yourself. There are no ‘independent contract’ Christians
- Pope Francis is encouraging us to think about holiness as something very practical
- In the end, it turns out to be about service
- I am what I am because we are what we are
- We are not alone
- We should not aim to teach about God, we should teach with God
- Seven concepts for us to reflect on as Catholic Families
St John Bosco School, New Plymouth
The convention entertained, challenged and at times made us feel quite uncomfortable whilst reminding us of the privilege and the importance of our roles not just as educators but as Catholic educators in Catholic schools.
Each morning when I arrive at our beautiful school I pull up my blind, look out to Rangitoto and thank God for the privilege of sending me to St John’s. I ask for guidance so that I can lead our school with aroha, manaakitanga, and pono. I will continue this daily prayer ritual but with new eyes and a deeper understanding as a result of being immersed in the knowledge and wisdom of the convention.
St John’s School, Mairangi Bay