Just the week before last, I had the pleasure of spending three days with our Year 6 group on camp at Emerald Creek’s Camp Patterson, just outside Mareeba. Students and staff alike agreed it was a marvellous experience where all of us were able to appreciate one another and our school community in a different light. We lived in close quarters (COVID-safe) away from the familiar securities of home, shared three meals a day, saw to the necessary chores of communal life, and, most importantly, extended ourselves with a series of group challenges. No doubt, for each individual, the camp experience taught us something about ourselves and provided a glimpse of ourselves at our best.
Meanwhile, raw challenges are being faced across our global community as we grapple with the COVID pandemic. The depth and longevity of both immediate impacts and the enduring hardships likely to be the COVID legacy is largely hidden just now from the eyes and minds of our Year 6 campers. Yet their generation, the generation of all of our MCC students, will be called upon to heal, restore and build upon the challenges presently unfolding.
This fact brings into sharp focus the importance of the work we undertake together as parents and educators; the holistic formation of our young people. It is more necessary than ever to develop sharp minds and dexterous hands to wonder and discover, to heal and to build, to collaborate and communicate. Moreover, it is imperative these skills are imbued with a positive moral and ethical framework, to serve and protect, to seek the way of truth and life, to promote justice and opportunity for all.
From our religious tradition, we would speak of this as an ‘ethic of love’. We know that this ethic is expressed almost universally by people of good will and in most religious traditions, too. In our Christian tradition, to know this ‘ethic of love’ in a deeply personal sense is to ‘know’ Christ and the Divine truth he embodies in word and deed. St Mary ‘of the Cross’ MacKillop, for whom we are named, knew Christ and his love. It and led to the creation of the rich education and service tradition we have inherited in Catholic education. We celebrate her feast day this coming week.