Friday 12 November 2021

Discerning for a Hope-Filled Future

From 28 June until 2 July this year, educators from Jesuit Global network of schools gathered to reflect upon the fourth universal apostolic preference, and in particular the question: “How do we accompany young people in the creation of a hope-filled future in our education apostolic ministry?” In recent weeks, the Vision Statement emanating from the global colloquium has been released and can be accessed here.

The response of the colloquium to the above question was the following:

We ought to educate for a hope-filled future
by educating for depth and global citizenship
in faith and reconciliation
in the context of our Educational Integrated (Holistic) Perspective.

The statement then articulates how the four strands – educating for faith, depth, reconciliation and global citizenship – help frame our contemporary mission of Jesuit education.The Colloquium’s Vision Statement affirms that educating for faith is the cornerstone of Jesuit education and it is an expression of the first universal apostolic preference that presupposes a basic relationship with God. The statement posed the further question; “how do we educate as inclusive but distinctly Catholic schools in an increasingly secular and multicultural/religious world?

As educators in a Jesuit school, we are called to make faith ‘explicit’ by showing students the way to God through the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius and helping them grow in an Ignatian understanding of discernment. There is the need for us as educators to make faith ‘explicit’ by showing students the way to God, through the witness of our own lives, including caring for all things, ourselves, humanity and the environment, drawing upon the inspiration of Saint Ignatius to glorify God in all things. While we are called to make our Catholic faith explicit, we do so as people who are “willing to dialogue with others, respectful and appreciative of different religious traditions and worldviews, seeking what is true and good, while remaining committed to one religious tradition and worldview” identified as our most fruitful way to God.

The Colloquium also considered the challenge of our contemporary world, including increasing fragmentation and polarisation globally and how the fundamental Jesuit mission of reconciliation and justice, caring for our common home and remaining committed to walking with the marginalised, will enrich our efforts to help form people of:

  • competence, depth and discernment;
  • compassion who are agents of reconciliation;
  • conscience who are people of faith, seeking to find God in all things; and
  • commitment who are global citizens.

We are continuing along our journey of the Ignatian Year, in which we celebrate two important anniversaries – the 500th anniversary of the wounding of Saint Ignatius in the Battle of Pamplona and the beginning of his conversion experience and in March next year, we will recall the 400th anniversary of the canonisation of Saint Ignatius and Saint Francis Xavier. When we began the Ignatian Year on 20 May, I invited students in Years 10 and 11, as well as Years 5 and 6, to participate in the Rector’s Design Competition for the Ignatian Year, drawing upon Ignatius’ experience of the cannonball or the theme for the year, “to see all things new in Christ.” I am delighted to announce that Lachlan was the overall winner for Years 10 and 11, with Tully being the Year 10 winner. Among our Regis students, Luka was the overall winner with Kerr being the Year 5 winner.

As part of the Design competition, each student was required to submit a statement of intent explaining their design. Lachlan explained his entry in the following way:

“My banner ‘Finding God in your cannonballs’ is a call to action to seek a path trusting in God. My piece dwells on the theme ‘to see all things new in Christ’ through contrasting lighting and hues. God’s rays illustrate a newfound freedom and appreciation which Ignatius sought after his long period of reflection. As the reader’s eye goes down the page there is a more dull, monotone, and dark lighting which reflects how this barrier of reflection is necessary to overcome to find God in all things, especially our ‘cannonball moments’. The powerful legacy that literature has left in our Christian faith is illuminated through the book ‘Vita Christi’ lit by a candle. Ultimately, Ignatius’ portrayal illustrates how reflection and discernment are critical to achieve change. This banner contextually speaks to widespread isolation during COVID, emblematic of Ignatius’ isolation on a wooden bed and therefore evokes a sense of optimism, hope, and ultimately trust in God that we shall overcome these obstacles and have a clearer vision of God and our callings. In sum, my banner illustrates how we can be reborn from being held captive within the confines of isolation and short-sighted sadness.”

In describing his winning entry, Luka said the following;

“My artwork depicts Ignatius sitting by the river after he had been struck by the cannonball and was in the process of recovery. He started to think and look around him. He noticed the beauty of nature and he decided that he was going to turn his life around. He wanted to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and devote his life to helping others.”

Banners of these two winning designs will be made in the coming weeks and will be prominent features at our various school celebrations in 2022 leading to the conclusion of the Ignatian Year on 31 July 2022.  I want to acknowledge Ms Cathy Penning, our Regis Art teacher, for the outstanding way in which she worked with the Regis students, as well as Ms Julie Stevens, Ms Justine Bartelme and Mr Mark Anderson, for their assistance with crafting the design brief and their encouragement to our students in Years 10 and 11.

Yesterday we came together virtually across the College to commemorate Remembrance Day.

As part of the service, we prayed the following;

O God of truth and Justice
We hold before you today all those who have fought for our freedom, and especially those who laid down their lives in the service of our country, especially during the First World War.
As we recall the 103rd anniversary of ending of the First World War, we pray for our brothers and sisters across the world who continue to have their lives disrupted by war and terror.
We pray in gratitude that we live in a country where peace prevails and we remember our armed forces and the peacekeepers around the world who seek to keep the world secure and free.
In this Ignatian Year, we recall that 500 years ago Saint Ignatius also experienced the shattering effects of war arising from his injury due to the cannonball in the Battle of Pamplona. Like Ignatius, may all who carry injuries, physical and psychological, from participation in war experience your transformative love, calling forth new dreams and desires as they seek to rebuild their lives.
As we honour the past today,
May we put our faith in your future;
For you are the source of all life and hope, now and forever. Amen.

Wishing you and your families every blessing.

Fr Tom Renshaw