The first hampers were delivered yesterday to local households. One older gentleman was delighted with the gift. He said that he was nearly out of food and his pension cheque was still three days away. Our Service Learning Coordinator, Ms Nicole Jones, lets each person know that a basket can be expected. It turns out that a woman who will receive her hamper today is an ex-Villanova mum who goes in for spinal surgery tomorrow. With each car full of students, staff and baskets, there are many stories like these.
One Junior School student asked how many people are reached and helped by the Appeal. My conservative estimate would be 250 people, once you consider the members of 26 households, and the patrons of Emmanuel City Mission and Rosies. We have also made up two large hampers for Bruno, our Work and Welcome worker. He has fifteen siblings, all of whom are living with his parents in two adjacent houses south of the city.
There has never been a more generous collection in my time at the College. It is taking many student and staff hours to pack and organise the hampers. The project therefore brings staff and students together in a powerful way, to reach out to people within the neighbourhood.
I would like to record special thanks to the staff who are assisting: Ms Byron, Ms Jones, Ms Kieseker, Ms Underhill, Ms Palmer, Ms Dauth-Sousa, Mr Stuart, Ms Elder, Ms King, and Ms Kenny. There are also many students from Year 9 – 11 who assist either with packing or delivery. About 12 staff will form a convoy to drop off the abundance of extra donations next Monday at Emmanuel City Mission (Drop-In Centre) before also cooking breakfast for 80 patrons. A special thank you to Ms Byron and Ms Jones, who are controlling the logistics of this big operation.
If your son has any unused stationery items – e.g. pens, felt pens, books of lined paper etc – then could he please donate to our special overseas appeal? This year we are assisting old boy Kush Sami (2011) to make stationery packs to be shipped to the poorest students in Sri Lanka and India.
Work and Welcome
On Tuesday we welcomed Mark Taylor to the College in his capacity as organiser of the Work and Welcome scheme. A former Padua College teacher, Mark first conceived the idea 27 years ago. Currently there are 14 people of refugee background working in different schools across Brisbane. Mark is still friendly with many of the men and women who have enhanced the Villanova community.
Bruno has had a similar enhancing effect this year and I want to pay special tribute to John Roberts and Gary Meilak of our Grounds and Maintenance team who do so much for Bruno – from giving him driving lessons (and using the translate function on their phones to ensure that their teaching is making sense).
A Shared Campus – Laudato si’
One of the achievements of the newly formed Green Team in 2020 is to have made us all a bit more aware of the way we share our campus – not just with each other, but with the natural world, which likes not to be suffocated.
It has been humbling over the past few weeks to see one staff member rescue not just one but two chicks from the currawong nest in the Veritas rafters. He now feeds the two chicks a box of crickets a day, and the tamer chick of the two happily hops up his arm to say hello.
So, it was not a massive surprise to find two curlew chicks wandering along the second floor of Veritas yesterday. Once again, the staff members on hand did not pass by on the other side, but carried out a rescue, restoring the youngsters to a worried mum.
You can almost sense in these stories a touch of the Christmas story, where the world spins a bit closer to Heaven – and our senses are better attuned to the other creatures which share the stable or the campus with us.
I think it is genuinely true that God reaches closer to the human world at Christmas, despite all the commercialism, and this idea is beautifully expressed in John Betjeman’s poem, Christmas. After describing “the sweet and silly Christmas things,” the poem suddenly asks a serious question:
And is it true,
This most tremendous tale of all,
Seen in a stained-glass window’s hue,
A Baby in an ox’s stall?
The Maker of the stars and sea
Become a Child on earth for me?
I hope that each Villa family enjoys a happy and holy Christmas, with some time set apart for what truly matters.
Click here for Sunday Readings.
Mr John Holroyd, Dean of Mission and Identity