By Rachel Curry
Mazenod College in Lesmurdie has kicked off the start of its Jubilee Year and one of the most important moments of its history, this year celebrating 50 years as a school and the 200th anniversary of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.
For half a century, the Catholic boys school has followed the vision of the Oblates’ founder, St Eugene de Mazenod, a French priest who dedicated his life to helping people on the margins of society.
St Eugene prayed that people would “learn what they are in the eyes of God” – a statement which became the motto for Mazenod College when it opened in 1966.
Fifty years on, the school is more dedicated to St Eugene’s vision than ever, following the introduction of a number of faith-based initiatives in the past two years.
Campus ministry co-ordinator Lorraine Lima said a new Christian Service Learning program was challenging Year 7 to 12 students to grow in their understanding that faith is not just a personal response to God’s love, but a communal response to love one another.
“The idea of Christian Service Learning is not just to do anything – it’s specific for age levels with what we’re challenging the students to do. It’s something we’re taking on as a whole school, including the teachers,” she said.
“We wanted the young men who would leave us to be citizens who are open to other people, who don’t discriminate against the poor, who value what the Gospel readings are about and who are able to share in that mission.”
Since 2014, Mazenod College has also run overseas immersion experiences to communities supported by Oblate priests in India and China.
Staff and students gain an understanding of the important work of Oblates in these areas and witness firsthand the poverty and lack of basic sanitation and education facilities faced by so many people around the world.
Mrs Lima said the school held a Mazenod Mission Day each year, which raised vital funds for these communities.
“The focus of Oblate missions overseas is on education in particular, as this is crucially important in breaking the cycle of poverty,” she said.
Another initiative at Mazenod College is its partnership with The Footpath Library, a project which gives away free books to homeless people at makeshift libraries throughout Perth.
Staff in the English and Design and Technology departments helped students to collect countless books, raise funds and build bookshelves to support the project.
Mazenod College is the first school in WA to support The Footpath Library and Mrs Lima said the students’ response had been “really positive”.
“It’s one of those things that, because of the society we’re in, I think they were really surprised as to what they could do and how little it costs – it was about time more than anything – for someone who has less than them,” she said.
Mazenod College will hold a special Mass to celebrate its 50th anniversary during the feast day of St Eugene de Mazenod on 21 May.
Celebrations to mark 200 years of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate will follow later in the year.