Celebration of Excellence
It was my pleasure to present students with their awards in recognition of academic and community leadership achievements. All names are listed further on in this edition of the IONA. I offer my congratulations to all of the award recipients.
I have spoken a fair deal about community this year, its importance and the impact of its absence, brought into stark relief by the restrictions forced on us as a result of the global pandemic. I happened upon this in my parish bulletin last weekend. Written by Henri J Nouwen, a Dutch priest and theologian, who later went on to work in and with disabled communities, it is an eloquent summary of all that I feel in my heart about our St Columba’s College community.
COMMUNITY MAKES GOD VISIBLE
Nothing is sweet or easy about community. Community is a fellowship of people who do not hide their joys and sorrows but make them visible to each other as a gesture of hope.
In community we say: “Life is full of gains and losses, joys and sorrows, ups and downs — but we do not have to live it alone. We want to drink our cup together and thus celebrate the truth that the wounds of our individual lives, which seem intolerable when lived alone, become sources of healing when we live them as part of a fellow-ship of mutual care.”
Community is like a large mosaic. Each little piece seems so insignificant. One piece is bright red, another cold blue or dull green, another warm purple, another sharp yellow, another shining gold. Some look precious, others ordinary. Some look valuable, others worthless. Some look gaudy, others delicate. We can do little with them as individual stones except compare them and judge their beauty and value. When, however, all these little stones are brought together in one big mosaic, portraying the face of Christ, who would ever question the importance of any one of them? If one of them, even the least spectacular one, is missing, the face is incomplete. Together in the one mosaic, each little stone is indispensable and makes a unique contribution to the glory of God. That’s community, a fellowship of little people who together make God visible in the world.
I would like to wish all of the students leaving us at the end of the year all the very best for their new endeavours. My prayer for you is that the story of the Sisters of Charity, women who have made a mark in the world on behalf of the poor and the marginalised, continues to inspire your lives.
It is also a sad time when we farewell the staff who will be leaving the College at the end of the year. In different ways, each staff member has left an impression on those with whom they have journeyed, and they will be missed. This year we farewell:
Shane Taylor, Nella Cirillo, Marian Birkett, Lina Basile, Yasmin Quinlan, Leo Twomey, Glen Borg, Joshua Di Pietro, David Lovatt, Melissa Vella, Gabriella Ibbott, Darcie Foley, Rowena Bernal-Richards, Marina Bartolameazzi.
We send off these staff members with our love and best wishes. On behalf of the College community, I offer this beautiful John O’Donohue blessing for the students and staff who are departing:
Awaken your spirit to adventure,
Hold nothing back,
learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home
in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses
the world that awaits you.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
After the tumultuous and turbulent year that we have all experienced, I am sure that everyone is looking forward to the peace that this holiday season will bring. I take this opportunity to thank you once again for your overwhelming support this year as we have responded to the pandemic. Your patience, understanding and feedback were instrumental in ensuring we provided the most appropriate response given the circumstances.
I would like to wish every family a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May the joyful anticipation of the advent season be realised as we awaken our hearts to the love of the newborn Christ.
I look forward to welcoming you all back in 2021.