Director of Schools, Peter Turner, has called on teachers and staff across the Diocese of Wollongong to "BE NOT AFRAID" at the annual Diocesan Education Mass.
The Mass, which saw dozens of dignitaries and around 800 educators from all corners of the Diocese fill St John Vianney Co-Cathedral in Fairy Meadow, was an evening of relevant and uplifting celebration during Catholic Schools Week.
“We come together to celebrate unity of purpose, oneness, mission, commitment and energy for the faith, wellbeing, and growth of our young people,” Mr Turner told the congregation.
“Catholic schools do great things but perhaps, like never before, Catholic educators need to be known for not being afraid.
“The complex world of 2018 can leave many of us with reasons to be clouded with uncertainty, and even fear.
“[But] our 26,000 children and young people, they are more important than our fears.
“Let us remember that each child may have only one chance, and each of you holds that in your hands.
“I wish each of you a fulfilling, enriching and life-giving school year as I too, like you, will seek, in all things that matter most to be not afraid.”
Mr Turner also warmly welcomed a new school year under the leadership and guidance of newly-ordained Bishop Brian Mascord.
“The education community stands ready to support you, to encourage you and to help bring to life, your hopes and dreams for the people of our wonderful Diocese,” he told the Bishop.
In the middle of an extraordinarily busy Term 1, the large turnout was a strong show of support for our Catholic Education community and for the new Bishop, who spoke of bringing light and peace to others.
“As teachers, each of us has been chosen, and you have consciously chosen to teach in the name of me, the Bishop of this place: to represent me as the chief teacher of the Diocese, who in turn is a representative of the great teacher, the great rabbi, Jesus,” Bishop Brian said.
“We are working together to bring the mandate of Christ to life, in this place, our Diocese, and at this time.
“To you, our teachers, our support staff, can I just say thank you for offering the gift of faith. Thank you for trying to live that gift of faith and witnessing to it.
"As we pray tonight, we pray for the gift of the Holy Spirit upon us, so that we can continue to give life, hope, light and love to those we encounter.”
To mark the beginning of his ministry with us, Bishop Brian was presented with a gift on behalf of all the CEDoW’s schools and staff - ‘From the Mountains to the Sea’, a painting by well-known local Aboriginal artist, Uncle Kevin Butler.
The vibrant artwork celebrates the richness of our local Aboriginal storytelling, culture and connection, depicting a colourful array of Aboriginal Dreaming Stories, images and landmarks relating to the four regions of the Diocese.
The night was a special occasion for the Diocese’s five new principals, who were called forward, accompanied by students from their school, to be personally commissioned by the Bishop. Congratulations to Mr Chris Agnew (Holy Spirit College, Bellambi), Mr Philip Barrington (St Thomas More, Ruse), Mr Justin Devlin (St Anthony's, Picton), Mr Stephen Lo Casio (Mount Carmel, Varroville) and Mr Michael Reardon (St Paul's, Camden).
The wonderful, positive spirit of the Mass and the gathering in the school hall afterwards were both characterised by a strong sense of community and joy. It was an alive, inspiring experience for all present, particularly for new teachers and staff who were also specially welcomed and blessed.
Mr Turner thanked those who organised and participated in the event, particularly members of the CEDoW Catholic Life, Education & Mission team; the staff and students of Good Samaritan Catholic Parish Primary School, Fairy Meadow; our student aboriginal dancers from John Therry Catholic High School, Rosemeadow and didgeridoo players from St John the Evangelist Catholic High School, Nowra; the many talented musicians and singers; and Bishop Brian, Fr Ron Peters, and the 10 priests who concelebrated the Mass.