It’s hard to believe that this is the last edition of the Iona for 2019. Time seems to tumble away in the busyness of our lives, and we can forget to acknowledge the moments of grace that have blessed our lives in community this year.
One of these moments was the celebration of learning that took place at the Awards Assembly on Thursday, 5 December. It was a proud occasion for students, staff and parents as we acknowledged those students who have endeavoured with their academic program this year, as well as those students who make a significant contribution to building College community.
In my address I encouraged all girls to ensure that whatever it is they are undertaking they do this to the best of their ability. The following is an excerpt from my address:
I have this wonderful book at home called speeches that changed the world, and Martin Luther King Jr figures prominently in that book. He held such a wonderful vision for what life could be like for all people, and he was remarkable in the way he could share his ideas. Six months before he was assassinated, he spoke to a group of students at Barratt Junior High School in Philadelphia on 26 October 1967, 52 years ago. His words still hold true today –
“If it falls to your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music, sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well. Be a bush if you can’t be a tree. If you can’t be a highway, just be a trail. If you can’t be a sun, be a star. For it isn’t by size that you win or fail. Be the best of whatever you are.”
The lesson here isn’t that you have to all go out and be street sweepers obviously; but it is about committing 100% to whatever it is that you are doing, for there is dignity and integrity in doing that well.
God’s gift to you is life; what you do with your life is your gift to God. I have used this quote before – I remember reading it as a very young student while at secondary school and it has stuck with me. It challenges me to reflect and to act – what am I doing to make the world a better place? Am I using the gifts and talents that I have, whatever they may be, in the best way that I can?
When the Sisters first imagined their schools, and this school, I wonder what they wanted for the pupils whom they would be educating? I’m quite certain that the education they provided was an education for all, in the sense that the gift you receive through the privilege of education, you will then go forth and multiply and use for the benefit of others. So, while today, we are celebrating individual achievements and triumphs, we know that our gifts and talents bring us to the fullness of life when we work to ensure we bring fullness of life to others.
Congratulations to all of our award winners, and thank you to all of the families that attended the assembly. Your presence and support are valued and appreciated.
There are members of the College community who are leaving us at the end of the year to pursue various pathways.
To our students – keep hold of the tradition of the Sisters of Charity that has nurtured you during your time here. Always remember our challenge to live the Gospel and serve the poor.
We are also farewelling several staff members. I would like to acknowledge and thank each one for their contribution and commitment to the education of the young women of St Columba’s College. We say good-bye to:
Years of Service
Mrs Fil Coviello
Ms Jaime Brown
Mr Tim Huf
Ms Rachel Lang
Ms Jenny Liggett
Mrs Claire Thompson
Ms Laura Danby
I’d also like to thank Mr Bao Vo, Mrs Eve Bacak, Ms Melissa Byrne, Mr David Lovatt, and Mrs Mary O’Brien, who have completed contracts with the College, and some of our instrumental music contractors, Ms Tamara Kohler, Mr Richard Butler, Ms Tahli Foley, and Mr Matthew Hoyne.
It is also with sadness that we farewell Mrs Ginella Casa, Mrs Diana Barresi, Mrs Anna Pitsillou and Mr Connor Fogarty, our marvellous canteen assistants who have so faithfully and gracefully served us for the past eight years. We wish them well into the future.
A personal thank you
I’m very pleased to say that my health is back on track after the challenging news of my breast cancer diagnosis in February. Thank you to everyone who sent along messages of encouragement and support, and to all of you who took the time to ask after my wellbeing over the course of this year. It has meant a great deal to me.
I wish you every grace and blessing for this coming Christmas period and pray that the Spirit of Joy and Promise – seen, heard and felt in the newborn baby in Bethlehem lives in your own hearts at this special time.
I look forward to seeing you all in 2020.