MESSAGE FROM THE PRINCIPAL
Celebrating Catholic Schools Week 6-12 March 2016
This week, the College celebrated Bethany in Action and Bethany Day within the context of Catholic Schools Week.
One of the major objectives of Catholic Schools Week (CSW) is to raise public awareness of the strengths of Catholic schools and highlight the significant contribution the Catholic education sector makes to our state and nation. CSW is an opportunity to share with the broader community the great things that take place in our schools every day.
The week is designed to be a lively celebration for all who have a stake in our schools – students, staff, families, priests, and parishioners. It is for them to share in the joy and distinctive character of Catholic schools. Schools can, and often do, rely on positive word-of-mouth to build their school’s reputation and promote specific events and programs, but the media role in raising the profile of the Catholic school in the wider community.
The theme for 2016 is ‘I Belong. You Belong. We Belong.’ which aligns with the Catholic Church’s strong focus on supporting refugees and asylum seekers and the need for a compassionate global community.
The theme also ties in with the Catholic Church’s celebration of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, which centres on pardon, strength and love.
In this Year of Mercy, Pope Francis is calling on all Catholic communities to extend mercy to those in need, particularly refugees fleeing hunger and war.
Visitors to Bethany were able to witness first-hand all that our school has to offer during Catholic Schools Week. Here is just one of the comments I received this week from a visitor:
“My daughters and I were at your Open Day yesterday afternoon (I also visited your school last year with my husband) and wanted to commend you. Energy, dedication and passion is evident and it is obvious that it permeates through your staff. The teachers we spoke to were brilliant and we very much appreciated the time they afforded us today.Thank you for offering us an opportunity to visit your school.”
My sincere thanks to our Parents and Friends (who ran the BBQ and refreshment stall), staff and students who made the day such a success.
Congratulations to Mya Cox of St Francis Xavier’s school at Arncliffe, the winner of the mini iPad at Bethany in Action.
This week, the Federal Government updated data on schools in their myschool website. We are delighted to report on the Student Gains our school has recorded.
The updated information includes the student learning gains from Year 7 (2013) to Year 9 (2015), our current Year 10 cohort. We are proud of the growth made by all the students within the spectrum of abilities. I include the graphs below that include how the College fared against similar schools across the nation with similar socioeconomic status. We can proudly say that Together, we grow.
Reading, Years 7-9 (2013-2015)
Persuasive Writing, Years 7-9 (2013-2015)
Numeracy, Years 7-9 (2013-2015)
Bethany Day 2016
The school community if very grateful to Fr Brendan and Fr Janusz for celebrating the Eucharist for us today. We also thank to Mr Culleton for arranging a beautiful liturgical celebration, Mrs Kennaugh, Mrs Moroney, Mr Roberts, Mrs Bennie and the choir, dancers, readers and assistants who helped shape the day and make it special.
In the Gospel today, we have listened to the story that inspires our school’s identity. We know Mary and Martha lived with their brother Lazarus at Bethany, a village not far from Jerusalem. They are mentioned in several episodes in the Gospels. On one occasion, when Jesus and His disciples were their guests, Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to Him while her sister Martha busied herself with preparing food and waiting on the guests, and when Martha complained, Jesus said that Mary had chosen the better part. When Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha, had died, Jesus came to Bethany. Martha, upon being told that He was approaching, went out to meet Him, while Mary sat still in the house until He sent for her. It was to Martha that Jesus said: “I am the Resurrection and the Life.” Again, about a week before the crucifixion, as Jesus reclined at table, Mary poured a flask of expensive perfume over Jesus’ feet. Mary was criticized for wasting what might have been sold to raise money for the poor, and again Jesus spoke on her behalf.
On the basis of these incidents, I believe we can see Mary as representing Contemplation (prayer and devotion), and Martha as representing Action (good works, helping others).
God used the story of two well-known women in the Bible to demonstrate to us the type of relationship He wants with each of us. I like to think of the story as the Martha syndrome and the Mary solution.
Sometimes we just forget how big our God is and we run around with what I call the “Martha Syndrome” trying to make everything just right when all we need to do is just Trust in the Lord with all our hearts.
Remember, Jesus told us to seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto us. That’s what Mary did. She sought Jesus first. This is what I call the “Mary Solution.” But Martha was concerned about: What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink?
Martha’s external behaviour at first appeared to be true servant hood. She was the one who put on the apron and went to work in the task of serving others. But her treatment of Mary soon revealed a serious defect in her servant’s heart. She allowed herself to become censorious and sharp-tongued. Such words in front of other guests were certain to humiliate Mary. Martha either gave no thought to the hurtful effect of her words on her sister, or she simply didn’t care.
Furthermore, Martha was wrong in her judgment of Mary. She assumed Mary was being lazy. In reality, Mary was the one whose heart was in the right place. Her motives and desires were more commendable than Martha’s. Jesus knew it, even though no mere mortal could ever make that judgment by observing the external behaviour of the two women. But Jesus knew it because He knew the hearts of both women.
Martha’s behaviour shows how subtly and sinfully human pride can corrupt even the best of our actions. What Martha was doing was by no means a bad thing. She was waiting on Christ and her other guests. In a very practical and functional sense, she was acting as servant to all, just as Christ had so often commanded. She no doubt began with the best of motives and the noblest of intentions.
But the moment she stopped listening to Christ and made something other than Him the focus of her heart and attention, her perspective became very self-centred. At that point, even her service to Christ became tainted with self-absorption and spoiled by a very uncharitable failure to assume the best of her sister.
Let us, on this day, remember to put Christ at the focal centre of our lives, no matter how difficult that may be. We try to live out our motto by believing in the best of others not by being self-absorbed.
Our Bethany Day award is dedicated to a student who has most personified our motto:
Over 200 students responded to my survey about who would be a worthy recipient and today I could have given away over 200 ipads. The Pastoral Team (YCs and Mrs Russo) reviewed the nominations and settled on this one student.
Remember we asked for someone who is not just pretty or nice but someone who actually lives out our motto daily. Here are just three of the comments about this student, let us call her X!
X is always kind and generous, she is extremely polite to teachers and students and treats everybody equally. X constantly takes care of the girls around her by going out of her way to write messages to their parents to remind them that their daughter has an early leave or has an excursion etc.
X is the most selfless person I have ever met. Every day she eats lunch with students that most girls don’t even acknowledge. She talks to them and helps them get to class, not out of pity or to inflate her own ego but out of genuine care and interest. Last year I missed out on six weeks of school work for a subject we both take. It was a part of the HSC course and around this time you would expect people to guard their notes, but she offered to explain every single thing I missed, let me copy her notes so that I wouldn’t fall behind, and continues to always offer her support if I’m ever having trouble understanding something. She is hardworking, intelligent, humble and inspires me to become a better person. She constantly puts others before herself and never asks for anything in return. I am proud to call her my friend.
X deserves this award. She is one of kindest person I have ever met that gives up her time to others. When I struggle with maths, she constantly helps me and offers advice. She also treats everyone with respect and will always have a smile on her face. She says hello to everyone and knows when to ask for help. She works hard at school and also works hard building and maintaining friendships. She waits for her friends with we are taking longer to get out of class and countless times has given up her time to explain an aspect of chemistry or just to listen to others. These small things show that she is a kind and compassionate person that therefore upholds the values of Bethany and should be receiving this Award.
Our Bethany Day award winner for 2016 is ISABELLA ALEKSOVSKA of Year 12. Congratulations Isabella and well done on being such a selfless, faith-filled young woman.
35 Years of Service
On the 8 March 2016, during Catholic Schools Week, the Sydney Catholic Schools office held a recognition ceremony for those teachers who have dedicated 35 years or more by teaching in a Catholic school in Sydney. We have eight such dedicated staff:
- Mrs Robyn Allan
- Mr Gregg Conroy
- Mr Patrick Curry
- Mr Peter Hulme
- Ms Wendy Munro
- Mr John Raftery
- Mrs Jann Symes
- Mr Mark Weber
Many of those years have been serving the Bethany College, St Joseph’s and St Mary’s Communities. Ultimately, the Catholic teacher’s vocation, as are all vocations, is born from Christ’s command, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” Whether a teacher teaches business studies or maths, history or science, the reason for teaching at all, that call, that vocation is to bring students to an awareness of the first part of that command, that they are loved. And this inspires in them a commitment to the second, that they are called themselves to live for others. Christ could have chosen any title for himself, any way of life, but from all the world’s possibilities he chose to be called, “Teacher,” and continues his work by calling teachers to do his work today. We give thanks for our teaching faculty and in particular, the eight staff recognised this week. I urge students who come across these teachers to personally thank them and express their gratitude.
Our mantra:“Girls can do anything. Bethany girls can do everything!* (*except divide by zero)” Vicki Lavorato Principal