I would like to give the first words this week to AFAS President, Nathan Farrelly:
As you would know, the Coronavirus situation is ever changing; and in countries like the Philippines, this is a constant source of fear and anxiety. Combined with the struggles many face in everyday life, those living there have been finding it tough to survive. AFAS has heard stories of incredible acts of solidarity within the Filipino community, and whilst all deserve to be recognised, I would like to draw your attention to the story of one of our scholars, Althea Victoria.
Althea and her two brothers
Althea is a lot like you or I; she is in Grade 9 and attends Divino Amore Academy in Cebu – one of our sister schools. What separates her from the crowd is that she has no parents; she and her two brothers live by themselves and she has taken up motherly duties; cooking, cleaning, and taking care of her siblings whilst being a full-time student. This is why AFAS decided to give her a scholarship, because of her incredible actions. The scholarship means that the generous contributions of Villanova families pay for Althea’s education each year.
She asked, and friends of AFAS delivered. Specifically, essential groceries and safe drinking water so that she and her brothers have what they need as she cannot go out during lockdown. AFAS gives a future, not just for Althea, but also for her siblings.
Other students of Divino Amore Academy have shared their experiences as well. Giselle Marie and Crystal Catherine May C Bollo have provided us with an idea of what it is like in the Philippines. Many are afraid for loved ones who work away from home, and all have to stay indoors, which, as you would expect, can get VERY boring.
What gives them hope is God; their knowledge about his love and trust has assisted them in persisting in these tough times, and for many, the stories of God’s care are a source of hope and comfort, and they find solace in God’s plan for them, however uncertain times seem.
Nathan Farrelly, AFAS President, 2020
One of the more penetrating Social Distancing cartoons depicts the risen Christ tiptoeing into a locked Zoom meeting of the 11 Apostles:
Doubting Thomas’ point is a good one, and his doubts seem to me to be sensible. When you think about it, our situation as a Christian community today, 2000 years later, is like being in a Zoom meeting and asked to believe that the risen Christ is in the meeting, with both mic and camera turned off.
So how would we reach the conclusion that Christ is in the locked room? My feeling is that the answer is a life-long faith journey, and that it is far easier to reach a working conclusion that Christ is in the room if you are part of a faith community.
Not every aspect of a community Mass can currently be shared, especially receiving Communion. But what the College is able to do is to break open the Gospel readings, and share in prayer and ritual, whilst gathering virtually as a community. Maybe the most important sign that these practices create a faith community is seen in works of service. As soon as the Year 11 and 12s returned, over 25 of them chose to go into a St Vincent de Paul meeting in their lunch break, because they want to reach out to local people who may need some practical support and compassion during the time of social distancing.
May 22 – Service for the Feast of St Rita
Next Friday, May 22, is the Feast of St Rita. The College will produce a special video service for the occasion, including a homily by Fr Peter Jones OSA, the Prior Provincial. Fr Peter was to have been our special guest for a whole College Mass next Friday. Instead, he will offer his insights from Sydney about the importance of St Rita as a model of Christian courage and reconciliation. As with our ANZAC Service, other elements of the video will include community prayer, music, and the Gospel reading. There will also be a special procession in the St Rita of Cascia featuring red roses which are associated with St Rita.
St Monica’s Kitchen
On the subject of deliveries of gifts to the community, St Monica’s Kitchen has had a great week. Fr Saldie was able to deliver much-needed meals to one staff family where the regular family “chef” has had to receive hospital treatment. He has also made deliveries to the Archbishop Romero refugee centre in Dutton Park and this is what they said in reply:
“Thank you so much for bringing the donations to Romero Centre! Please pass on our most sincere gratitude to all your staff and students for their ongoing support!
For the period from the beginning of April to now, we have distributed over 150 emergency food/toiletry parcels to families and individuals. We cannot do this without your support!!! Big thank you from Romero Centre team!” (Sarah Pan, Community Support Co-ordinator).
Importantly, many of these donations have gone to international students. Such students are cut off from home and do not have access to Job Seeker nor Job Keeper allowances. The Romero Centre are short of the essential supplies which they give to international students, like rice, tins of tuna, sugar, cooking oil, flour, hygiene items, and tinned food.
Many of you would know the story of St Oscar Romero, who was shot dead by military police in El Salvador whilst celebrating Mass. Even if the host cannot be delivered, I am absolutely certain that both he and the risen Jesus would recognise sacramental presence in these deliveries of bread and frozen meals.
If you would like to take some of the free frozen meals, e.g. for a family member or a neighbour, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
YCS – Brothers in Arms
A few Year 12 students joined the Junior School last Friday for handball and then a General Knowledge quiz about the College with Freddo Frog prizes. This was a small and practical way of preparing the ground for sharing the St Thomas of Villanova Learning Centre when it opens.
Letters to residents of local nursing home: teamwork with Lourdes Hill
We have posted the first batch of letters to elderly residents in our community who are appreciating this way of reaching out the hand of friendship. We have now teamed up with students of Lourdes Hill College, setting ourselves the target of sending a letter to each resident at Lorocco Nursing Home. Please email me if you would like to join in with this initiative – email@example.com
The Villa Man Podcast
The Villa Man podcast will return next week, continuing the conversation about how to form fine young men with some of the student leaders from 2019.
Domestic Violence week prayer
This is part of a prayer created by Campus Minister Fr Saldie Resolado OSA for our community this week: Let us pray that we may understand how domestic and family violence starts; may we recognise different kinds of abuse; may we find the right help for victims; may we appropriately support people affected by abuse; and may we encourage perpetrators to change their behaviour for their own sake and the children’s. We make this prayer through the heart of the risen Christ, Amen.
You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.
Mr John Holroyd, Dean of Mission and Identity