The 2020 liturgical year has compelled us to rethink prayer, worship, and spirituality at St Patrick’s College.
One example of having to rethink spirituality at St Patrick’s was the delivery of senior retreat experiences. Because of the need for social distancing, outside venues could not be used for events such as retreats. Fortunately, the Year 10 girls had experienced their usual retreat before the pandemic restrictions were applied. Unfortunately, Year 11 and 12 have missed out on their usual retreat experience. In place of the Year 12 Retreat, a modified program was delivered which commenced at 9.00am and concluded at 7.00pm. This time frame offered the Year 12 girls the opportunity to experience a select number of core activities drawn from the usual three day program. With times for discussion, reflection, interaction, shared meals, and prayer, the Year 12 girls participated enthusiastically in the revised program. Accordingly, Year 11 girls will soon participate in a Reflection Day which will engage them in the main themes of what would have been their usual three day Retreat.
Similarly, we have had to reimagine the Year 10 Community Service Program. In Term 1 this year, a group of Year 10 girls were able to complete their Community Service during the five weeks before online learning commenced. This meant that three Year 10 groups have not been able to undertake direct Community Service. In place of direct engagement in Community Service, in Term 4 we have planned a new program for the remaining three groups. The revised program will operate at the College whereby each Tuesday afternoon the girls will investigate different service providers so as to gauge what is available in the broader community. This program will be supported with information from and connection to the Sydney Archdiocese Catholic Office of Justice and Peace. Towards the end of Term 4, in conjunction with the St Vincent de Paul Society, the Year 10 girls will direct their efforts at preparing the Christmas Hampers which our College traditionally offers to the local community.
Another adjustment we have had to make to the prayer life of the College is to the Tuesday morning Chapel Prayer. This has gone virtual, so that each Tuesday morning a prayer is emailed to all members of the St Patrick’s community. In this way, while ever we are unable to gather together in one physical space, we can still be connected via the praying of one common prayer. The advantage with going to a virtual chapel prayer is that anyone can pray the prayer at a convenient time throughout the day. There is also the matter of no singing allowed during this time of pandemic.
Despite all the adjustments we are having to make to the way we pray, the research is suggesting that there is a lot more prayer happening these days. That is a wonderful thing, praise God.
Angelo Gattone - Mission Coordinator