You may recall that 2020 ended with our saying, “Good riddance and let’s bring on 2021.” And this was said with much hope and anticipation that this year would be better. The cartoon reminds us of the cautious optimism we had at the start of this year. How wrong we were. 2021 has brought us both familiar and new challenges and we have all done our best to meet those challenges.
Terms 1 and 2 lulled us into a sense of normalcy as we were anticipating the opening up of borders and the end to restriction. This meant that our three senior Retreats were able to take place and we are grateful that the Year 10, 11, and 12 girls had their Retreat experiences so that they did not miss out two years in a row. It was also possible during Terms 1 and 2 for the Year 10 girls to be out in the community doing their Community Service.
Then Term 3 happened! It is safe to assume that no one expected that lockdown would be so long and so strict. What we needed, amongst so many other demands, was ways to stay connected with the St Pat’s community and to be able to keep alive our mission of continuing to build God’s Kingdom here at St Pat’s. Ways we did this was to connect with each other through communal prayer, albeit virtually. Our communal prayers helped us to remain mindful of those things we value, hold dear, and aspire to live out as a Christ-centred and Benedictine community. Our Benedictine value and theme of stewardship this year has been a very apt value to focus on because a significant aspect of stewardship is caring for people as well as the environment. Hence our catch cry this year that “Stewardship is heart work” compelled us to be aware of the needs of others. By our connecting regularly through communal prayer, we were being stewards towards one another and expressing the “heart work” of stewardship. St Benedict, as always, has been for us during difficult times, a reminder to put the love of Christ before all things. In doing so, we have confidence that “all shall be well” (which is a saying attributed to St Julian of Norwich).
Upon the end of lockdown during Term 4, our St Pat’s community started gradually getting back to normal, although many restrictions remained. There was an excitement in the air on the days when various year groups were able to return to the College and be with friends and familiar faces. Almost immediately, the call went out to all year groups to bring in donations for the annual St Vincent de Paul Society Christmas Hamper Appeal. We were asked to provide 60 hampers for families in our local communities. As parents, you have the right to be proud of your daughter who rallied to donate to this appeal with enthusiasm and generosity.
A special mention must go to the Year 10 girls who did the Alternative Community Service Program during Term 4 because they had missed out on the opportunity to be active within the community due to COVID-19 restrictions. One of their tasks was to decorate 120 drawstring bags which were donated to the Nagle Centre for use as toiletry bags. Apart from decorating the bags, the whole of the Year 10 cohort offered donations of toiletries to place into the bags. This was on top of their donating to the Christmas Hampers. Congratulations, Year 10, on a job done so well and so generously. The staff at the Nagle Centre were very thankful when the toiletry bags were delivered and they wish to extend their sincere gratitude for the effort that was put into creating the bags. They will be distributed to homeless people in the Campbelltown area.
Although 2021 proved to be no better than the first “COVID year”, we still have much to be thankful for. We thank God for the gift of the collective St Patrick’s community which has remained faithful to its mission of bringing God’s Kingdom increasingly alive at St Pat’s. May this Advent season and Christmas be a time of many blessings which we gratefully receive from our God who comes to us in human flesh as Jesus, the Christ, to live among us and show us the way to salvation.
Angelo Gattone - Mission Coordinator