Dear Members of the St Joseph's College Family,
Welcome to the 2023 College year! I hope that 2023 will be a wonderful year in the St Joseph's College history as it celebrates the 30th anniversary of its opening in 1993. Special congratulations to Debra Dawson, Fiona Murray and Andrew Chambers who are the three member of staff who have served the College community over all of these thirty years.
In my greeting, I used the word Family. Our College has the opportunity to embrace that collective noun. Families are groups of people that, like the family Jesus was born into in Nazareth, have attitudes of family spirit:
love and forgiveness
support and help
forgetfulness of self
openness to others
I have spent a large part (32 years) of my teaching careers (this is my 42nd year) working with and for the Marist Brothers. The Marists value family spirit as “relational and affective”. Let’s all work together (staff, students and parents) to achieve a true family spirit at the College. I believe caring for one another in this way is a true reflection of a Catholic Christian community. And it’s really important that our students have a true experience of this.
In his book, Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff … And Its All Small Stuff, Richard Carlson Ph.D writes,
It's easy to get lost and overwhelmed in the chaos, responsibilities, and goals of life. Once overwhelmed, it's tempting to forget about and postpone that which is most near and dear to your heart. I've found that it's helpful to keep asking myself, "What's really important?"
As part of my early morning routine, I take a few seconds to ask myself this question. Reminding myself of what's really important helps me keep my priorities straight. It reminds me that, despite my multitude of responsibilities, I have a choice of what is most important in my life and where I put my greatest amount of energy - being available for my wife and children, writing, practicing my inner work and so forth. (page 233)
Carlson went on to say that it assisted him stay focussed. The challenge for all of us is to question overselves what’s really important to us? Pope Francis points us to two principles of Catholic Social Teaching: solidarity and subsidiarity. In his book Let Us Dream, the Holy Father writes:
Solidarity acknowledges our interconnectedness: we are creatures in relationship, with duties toward each other, and are called to participate in society. But subsidiarity ensures that we do not distort the idea of solidarity, which involves recognising and respecting the autonomy of others as subjects of their own destiny. (page 53)
So our challenge for 2023 is simply to endeavour to be more selfless and put the needs of others first. That’s pretty countercultural in our secular society that has a focus on the individual. But, encouragingly, we see evidence of solidarity whenever people experience hardships. The natural disasters in recent years certainly are evidence of this.
Mr Peter McLoughlin
6 February 2023