It goes without saying that 2016 has been a busy year for Catholic Education in Western Australia and the Archdiocese of Perth.
2016 was celebrated as an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy by the Church worldwide, and the theme of God’s mercy was a source of inspiration for activities and initiatives at many Catholic schools and colleges.
Following the lead of Pope Francis in opening the Holy Door at St Peter’s Basilica Rome, and then closer to home, of Archbishop Timothy Costelloe opening the Holy Door at St Mary’s Cathedral, a number of schools created their own ‘Mercy Doors’.
While the creation of Mercy Doors reminded students and staff that God’s mercy was open to all, the Year of Mercy also prompted schools in the Mercy tradition to coordinate pilgrimages. These pilgrimages were examples of the important place of Catholic tradition, identity and values for engaging, contemporary learning experiences. Through these creative pilgrimages students were supported to connect with history and gain a deeper understanding of discipleship in a current context.
National Catholic Education Conference
The National Catholic Education Commission Conference was held in Perth in June, bringing together Catholic Education staff and leaders from around the country for a wide range of discussions, workshops and expert presentations. Held once every five years, this was a major event for the development of Catholic Education nationally.
The Conference was a wonderful opportunity for Western Australian Catholic educators to connect with interstate colleagues; with many sharing their expertise in workshops. It was also presented an opportunity to gain insights and inspiration from WA students, who ran digital technology and technical demonstrations, displayed artwork and shared their experiences in a panel discussion session. On the closing day of the conference, Mater Dei College students presented their Sorry Day reconciliation performance in the main auditorium, to a standing ovation. Conference keynote speaker and long-time educator, Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Mardiaga SDB, also paid students at St Norbert College in Queens Park a visit.
CEWA’s LEAD (Learning, Engagement, Accountability, Discipleship) strategic direction was kept as a guide for the system throughout the year, and once again the LEAD Awards for Excellence, held in August, recognised school projects or initiatives that demonstrated LEAD in practice.
Iona Presentation Primary School, Mercy College, St Norbert College, St Simon Peter Catholic Primary School, Mater Dei College, Santa Maria College, and Lumen Christi College were all recognised for exemplary work, in areas ranging from student mental health, to robotics-based learning, support for the poor and marginalised, and engaging mathematics programs. LEAD Awards of Merit were also awarded to St Andrew’s Catholic Primary School, St Anthony’s School in Greenmount, St Anthony’s School in Wanneroo, and Prendiville College.
Catholic Schools Performing Arts Festival
The Catholic Arts program has again, this year, provided thousands of students with unique opportunities to express their creativity and artistic flair, often in ways that reflect their faith journey. Thousands of students participated in the Performing Arts Festival for Catholic Schools and Colleges, the Angelico Exhibition, and the Catholic Education Carnevale. The events showcased creative skills, enabling students to publicly share their passion and be acknowledged for their hard work in disciplines including dance, drama, music, painting, drawing and sculpture. With students from across the four WA Dioceses taking part in events, the Catholic Arts program provided truly unique educational experiences.
Studio Curious and LEADing Lights
To ensure that WA Catholic schools continue to be able to provide a world-class education that prepares students for future work, faith and family life, CEWA has undertaken a process of transformation at a strategic system level throughout 2016. This has seen the introduction of the LEADing Lights Digital Transformation roadmap, as well as the uptake of ‘design thinking’ through the Studio Curious initiative. Studio Curious and LEADing Lights have worked hand in hand, and moving into 2017 they will bring innovative, practical changes to support genuine improvements for engagement in learning experiences for students, staff and parents.
30th Anniversary of Catholic Education Centre by Pope John Paul II
In 1986, Pope John Paul II toured Australia, a visit that included the now famous speech to Aboriginal people at Alice Springs on 29 November.
After the stop in Alice Springs, and another in Adelaide, Pope John Paul II travelled to Perth, celebrating Mass at Belmont Park.
During his Perth visit, the Pope presided over another event, which while not as famous as his Alice Springs speech, was of unique historical significance – the opening of the Catholic Education Centre in Leederville, which remains the only building ever opened by a Pontiff in Australia.
The Centre in Leederville, commonly known as the Catholic Education Office, had until that year, been the Home of the Good Shepherd Convent, the Perth base of the Sisters of the Congregation of the Good Shepherd, who arrived in 1902. The Catholic Education Commission of Western Australia had been established in 1971, and after a number of moves to larger offices with a growing Catholic Education office staff, were looking for a longer-term solution. At that time, the Sisters were looking to sell the Leederville property.
After the sale of the property, Dr Peter Tannock asked then Archbishop William Foley, if an invitation could be extended to the Holy Father, which was accepted, and by the time of Pope John Paul II’s visit, necessary renovations to the buildings had been made. The Pope opened the Centre in an outdoor ceremony in front of the heritage building’s entrance.
For the last 30 years the Centre has served as a hub for work supporting the improvement and growth of WA’s state-wide Catholic education system, which for many years was the only state-wide Catholic system in Australia.
From pages 14 and 15 from Issue 5: ‘Christmas 2016 – Looking forward to the Birth of Christ & Reflecting back on the Year 2016?’ of The Record Magazine