This Sunday (11 December @ the 10.00am Mass) our parish hosts the school community for an end-of-year school Mass. The 10.00am Mass will be followed by a gathering of parishioners and the school students, teachers and families in the presbytery garden.
It has been an extraordinarily difficult year. Someone commented to me that there has not been a year as difficult and disruptive to city life since the war. That is undoubtedly true. Our prayer is that these difficult days are now past. We pray for stability in the earth, and even more we turn to God for stability, peace and joy in every event and moment of our lives.
It has been encouraging to see our city community (with support from around the country and the world), and the smaller communities within the city, working together throughout the year to support and rebuild. We have seen many examples of this in our own parish and school community.
In this our Catholic community has a significant advantage over secular institutions and schools. We do not simply rely on the goodness and generosity of people. We turn to God, and to the life of God gifted to us through the sacramental life of the Catholic Church.
This gift of God is the heart of the life of a Catholic school. A Catholic school exists to communicate the life of God using the teachings and tools of the Catholic faith.
It was the Sisters of Mercy who founded our parish school in 1956. They lived at the VIlla Maria convent where their lives centred on God. They began every day with prayer and Mass in the chapel. Each day concluded in the chapel. Throughout the day they took moments and minutes to remind their students that everything depended on God.
Twenty years later, in the mid 1970’s, the NZ schools Integration Act defined this special character of a Catholic school:
“a Roman Catholic School in which the whole school community, through the general school programme and in its’ Religious instructions and observances, exercises the right to live and teach the values of Jesus Christ. These values are as expressed in the Scriptures and in the practices, worship and doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church, as determined from time to time by the Roman Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Christchurch.”
As we come to the end of this school year it is timely for us to remember that our school is a treasure. This treasure has been entrusted to us by earlier Catholic generations. Their generosity built this school. Today we govern, manage and support our school on behalf of our bishop who owns the school.
It is my prayer that at the end of this challenging year, the school community rests well and returns refreshed to continue God’s work in this place in 2012.