This week following our All Saints College Mass is the Church’s official celebration of All Saints. It is a time in our tradition when we celebrate good women and men of faith who show us how to live. Many of the saints lives seem far beyond our ordinary experience, and I hope you can find yourself in the description of saints from St Augustine who describes ordinary saints with some virtues and some faults. Their saving grace is that they are humble, willing to admit mistakes and ask forgiveness. These are qualities that we can all surely benefit by working on. In Augustine’s letter of the Pelagians he writes the following about saints.
“The saints are those who are moved by God’s grace to do whatever good they do. They get angry and desire revenge when they are injured but are ready to forgive when asked.
They are very attached to their property but will freely give at least a modest amount to the poor. They will not steal from you but are quick to take you to court if you try to steal from them.
They are realistic enough to know that God should get the main credit for the good that they do. They are humble enough to admit that they are the source of their own evil acts.
In this life God loves them for their good acts and gives forgiveness for their evil, and in the next life they will join the ranks of those who will reign with Christ forever.”
~ Against Two Letters of the Pelagians, 3.5.14
A great dinner table conversation, or those trips in the cars with our boys would be a great time to talk together about the saints in our lives and growing a capacity to be humble, willing to admit mistakes and ask forgiveness.
An experience at the Temple
Last Friday and again yesterday, our five classes of Year 11 Study of Religion students have had the opportunity for a morning at the Buddhist temple in Underwood. In this senior subject we study Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism and our units link through sacred texts, rituals, ethics and human rights. This encounter at the temple provided our students with the opportunity to experience the Buddhist temple and interact and engage with some of their teachings. Two of our students, Riley and Jayden share the following of their experience:
Buddhist Temple Excursion: Year 11 SOR
After travelling from school to Underwood, the day began by walking through the entry of the Buddhist temple, whereby our class was ushered into a lecture/classroom. Immediately, the most notable aspect of the temple was the peacefulness and serenity. The Buddhist statues, lush greenery, and relaxing incense calmed down our class and really allowed us to focus our minds on this experience. We then participated in a small discussion between us and one of the welcoming Buddhist nuns. It was there that we learned of the importance of many characteristics of the monks, such as the shaved heads. They seemed to have a real focus on the idea of detachment, from all material things, to help let go of suffering. Activities throughout the day consisted of Tai chi, meditation, and the drawing of Chinese symbols. Each one allowed us to connect more deeply with Buddhism, and further learn and understand why and how Buddhists live their lives. My personal favourite was Tai chi, which relaxed and centred me, allowing a real mind and body connection. Overall, the day was comforting and peaceful and distinctive in the experience. I would highly recommend travelling to the Fo Guang Shan Chung Tian Temple.
The excursion to Chung Tian temple was very insightful. We learned about the incredible lifestyle Buddhists live and how their rituals and traditions make their lives so much more fulfilling. This included Tai chi, meditation, and calligraphy. These activities demonstrate how the core values of Buddhists are letting go of desire and freeing themselves from suffering by letting go of attachment to material objects. Tai chi and meditation showed us how to be more patient and carefree, flowing like a river. Calligraphy showed us how to be careful and take our time to replicate Chinese characters with precision. The architecture of the buildings was very impressive, with many temples towering above us with their unique Asian rooftops and pillars. The smell of incense set a very relaxing atmosphere which was reflected with how carefree and at ease everyone working there was. Overall, the experience was extremely unique, and every student gained further knowledge from the excursion.
Greening our Local Community
Our Green Team has a spring in their step and a keenness for action! The weather has been intervening with a few of our plans, but a great team of students headed up to do some planting in the gully a group earlier in the year had mulched. These actions together make a massive difference in our local area that will continue to grow over time. Diego and Joaquin share more of the story along with some snaps of the great work. Certainly, you can see it was a fun and rewarding occasion!
The Green Team at Villanova has always been a ministry about giving back to the community. On Wednesday 26 October, the Green Team did just that, with tree planting conducted in Mars Street Park. This gave us the opportunity to further better our community, and as always, working together with the boys, we were able to complete the planting in just 30 minutes. Giving up a small part of your afternoon, whether it be for a tree planting or a Norman Creek clean-up, is what Green Team is all about.
For me, The Green team encapsulates the value of community. Giving up a few hours of your time to help repair and restore what we call home instils both a genuine sense of fulfilment and solidarity which has become so hard to find when, frankly, everything we do is to benefit ourselves. Last Wednesday’s cleanup gave the boys involved a chance to do just that, we set aside our personal endeavors to spend some quality time as mates whilst giving back to our wonderful community.
There has been a thread of purpose, belonging and connection that has run through the last couple of weeks at Villanova. We’ve been exploring it through Mental Health Week, recognising that belonging and connection are foundations to being well and thriving in life. When we belong and are connected it is easier to focus on the task of discovering and living with a sense of purpose and direction for how we can contribute. We have felt purpose, belonging and connection as a school community as we’ve gathered together to farewell our Year 12 students. We have heard the connection and belonging in the articulate, funny and heart-warming stories recalled by Lucas Howe in Year 5 reflecting on our Senior students. We have seen it as our students formed a guard of honour across the school to farewell our Seniors of 2022. Mr Begg drew upon a quote from St Augustine in his College address last Friday unpacking belonging and connection with a wisdom that comes across the centuries to us.
“What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.”
At this time of the year we especially celebrate our Year 12s and all the gifts and talents they have discovered, developed and shared in their time at Villanova College across all aspects of the school – academics, sports, music, creative arts, service. All have contributed and leave a legacy to the students coming behind them.
Celebrating our Ministry Leaders of 2022!
In our student led ministries we have been celebrating the contribution of our Year 12s and preparing for the handover of the senior Ministry groups to our Year 11 students. On Monday evening, Year 12s who have taken on a leadership role in our Student Ministry teams came together to celebrate what they have achieved and to look towards the future to what volunteering they might continue. It was a fantastic evening with guests from Rosies, Vinnies, Emmanuel City Mission and the Jansen family joining us to celebrate and encourage our students to continue in the work they have begun here at the College. We can’t wait to see what unfolds for these students in the wider community! We hope you enjoy some of their reflections:
Ministry Captain – Jose Sibi
Being Ministry Captain this year was such an enjoyable and rewarding experience. 2022 was packed with so many service opportunities across all the individual ministries, and also new initiatives such as the Emmanuel City Mission program which all the boys engaged with. Being a part of a ministry team that were very enthusiastic and so passionate about making a difference in their own ministry leadership areas made my role as ministry captain a whole lot easier and was what made ministry in 2022 so successful. Whether it was through the AFAS Global VILLAge program, the Vinnies sleepout, Green-team clean-ups and running stalls in Mission Week, I believe that the ministry boys did make a large difference to the community, and it was just so amazing to be a part of it all.
YCS – Patrick Grigson, Alex Friedman, Cohen Stewart and Luke Schaumburg
Over the course of 2022, the YCS boys strived to foster vital relationships with the youth of our community, providing much needed guidance and support during what are still ever-changing times. The young lads of the College were not ones to keep their gratitude quiet – every week we were met with such amazing appreciation for our time that became addicting as we kicked footies, shot baskets, and decimated them in handball. Our contribution to Mission Week was clear, as we ran rowing and ping pong competitions that were instant hits throughout the Junior School and Senior School. The lads learned our nicknames and had great times throughout the year, leaving memories on both sides that will never be forgotten. YCS isn’t anything crazy. It’s not complicated, and we don’t take ourselves too seriously – it’s simply about having fun. With mental health problems higher than ever, it’s especially important we help the community share a laugh and just have some fun. One thing remains true – those that participated this year were certainly better off for it.
Vinnies – Xavier Simondson and Andrew Stamatiou
Over the year, we’ve done a lot in Vinnies. It started simply with hampers to help our local community, to a sleepout to experience homelessness and understand what people have to deal with. We are so grateful for the people that have helped us in all this, whether it is simply giving money or food or something, to joining us in these experiences. We are also grateful for the opportunities that we have been able to have, working on the Vinnies youth camp during the semester break not only gave us some great friendships and opportunities outside Villanova, but also the ability to improve ourselves and have new passion to continue to help people. Being a part of Vinnies has shown us it not only helps those in need but can also help the people doing the work and their passions.
AFAS – Mark Byerley and Will Gyte
This year we were lucky to establish an online connection with the Philippines through our Global VILLAge initiative in which as an individual and as a school we were able to further our understanding of what it means to be a human. Our Mission Day gave insight to how our Augustinian counterparts, live their lives. Although our ministry was small in the beginning, when we needed to get something done, we came together to accomplish our goals. We are grateful for our experience and hope that our efforts make a difference.
Green Team – Bailey Korander-Matheson and Dom Franco
The Green Team is fortunate enough to contribute to the Villanova College community. We have continued the already established beehives, as well as clean ups and tree planting. We are grateful for the position we were placed in, and this year will always remain in our hearts. Thank-you to all the boys who have been involved and contributed by continuing the Containers For Change program, who joined us to have fun cleaning up the creek and discovered all sorts of unusual things, and in the mulching and tree planting. All these things will make a fantastic contribution for decades and maybe even centuries to come.
As we farewell our Year 12s our whole school community joins in praying the following blessing:
God who journeys with us:
We give thanks for our Year 12 students.
May they recognize the contributions they have made to this community.
May they continue sharing their gifts and talents with the wider world.
May they be guided on their journey by their family, friends, teachers and staff, in our Villa community.
May they maintain focus and bring determination to the examination period ahead.
May their finishing honour and pay tribute to those who have supported and encouraged them on their journey.
May they have the confidence and strength to fulfill their dreams and the support to overcome life’s challenges.
May they live their lives with humility, building community as they search for truth and grow in relationship with God as both St Augustine and St Thomas did.
You have made us for yourself O Lord
And our Hearts are Restless until they rest in You.
Boxes for our AFAS Partners!
Our AFAS groups has been preparing boxes to go to our scholars and their community in Divino Amore Academy in Cebu. As we have missed two opportunities to be with them on our immersion programs this is a small gesture to let them know that we are thinking of them. Divino Amore have students that are on scholarships that Villa students and families have fundraised for through Mission week. It is also the school community that we have been zooming with through our Global VILLAge initiative across 2022. This project has provided a meaningful platform which allows us to meet and engage with the students at Divino Amore Academy and to gain a better understanding and insight about Filipino culture and the lives of our friends there.
Our boxes this year have been filled with sports shoes, sports uniform, books for their school library, clothing for staff members. Last year we did a similar thing for our school in CSA Colegio San Agustin in Bacolod. These were very gratefully received and put to good use. When our immersion returns, we will be visiting both of these school communities that Villanova College has been in partnership with for 30 years in 2023.
Mrs Kate Garrone, Dean of Mission and Identity