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Thursday, May 18th 2017

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Term 2 Week 4: From the Principal

Marist Pilgrimage

“There never was a pilgrim who did not come back to his village with one less prejudice and one more idea.” 19th century French writer François-René Chateaubriand

IMG 3025Over the course of the recent holidays and first weeks of Term 2, I had the great privilege of being part of the Marist Bicentenary Pilgrimage to the Holy Land (Jordan and Israel), Italy (Rome) and France (The Hermitage - St Chamoin). The journey with thirty other Marists from across Australia brought to life the genesis of our faith, its raw beginnings through the life of Jesus Christ to the life and work of the founder of the Marist Brothers, St. Marcellin Champagnat.

samaaria rdHoly Land
A pilgrimage is a sacred journey in which God is encountered through the places, people and situations a pilgrim meets. Unlike a tour, a pilgrimage is meant to be a personal spiritual experience. The desire to be a pilgrim is deeply rooted in human nature. Since the earliest times, pilgrimages to holy places have been made as acts of devotion, penance or thanksgiving, or to seek blessings or miracles. The experience that permeated my journey was in the land - its beauty, ruggedness and rich history. For a Christian, a pilgrimage to the Holy Land can be a life-changing and challenging experience — an experience which then makes every Bible reading come alive and have new meaning. St Jerome, who arrived in the Holy Land in AD 385 and spent more than 36 years there as a Bible translator, wrote “we understand Scripture better when we have seen Judea with our own eyes, and discovered what still remains of ancient towns”. The complexity of the Holy Land and the annexation of land currently is representative of history competing religious traditions.

Perhaps the highlight was in visiting the students of the Bethlehem University owned by the De La Salle Brothers. The aspiration of both the Muslim and Christian students respectively to work for peace through education to make the world a better place was truly inspirational. The university vision is dedicated to producing students who enter to learn, leave to serve. This is something we can take for our community as we too seek to make the world a better place.

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I will reflect on my experience of the founding home of the Marist Brothers, The Hermitage, in our next newsletter.

School Funding

As families would be aware, the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, and Education Minister, Simon Brimingham, announced a new 10 year school funding plan on Tuesday 2 May 2017. Increased government funding to school education recognises the importance Australians place on the liberating and life-giving benefits of a quality education for all children and young people. Fair and just funding arrangements for all schools and sectors is the admirable goal of the new funding model.

Unfortunately, at this stage, there is very little detail from the Government in relation to the announced plan and how it may directly affect Catholic schools over the next 10 years. For this reason the National Catholic Education Commission (NCEC), the peak representative body for Catholic Education at the Federal level, and the State Catholic Education Commissions, are yet to support the plan. Catholic schools collectively are the second largest provider of education in the country and parents make significant financial sacrifices to send their children to Catholic schools. Detailed and comprehensive information from the Government is critical in determining impacts on schools and families.

NCEC is seeking urgent discussions with the Government to be able to advise Diocesan systems, Catholic Education authorities and schools, exactly how the new funding plan will affect them.

I encourage families to write to respective local Federal MPs to express the desire for more consultation and detail in regard to the new funding arrangements.

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