As a new project this term, school bell times at St Joseph’s High School, Aberdeen have been changed to allow for five minutes of quiet, reflection and prayer.
The whole school stops what it is doing and teachers lead the students through recommended steps to help them review their day and get in touch with themselves and with the God who is present in all the moments of our daily lives.
St Joseph’s High School, Aberdeen stands proudly in the spiritual tradition of St Mary MacKillop, founded originally as a primary school, by the Sisters of St Joseph, Lochinvar in 1896.
There are no longer Sisters of St Joseph at Aberdeen, and the school’s challenge is to ensure that it does not lose sight of the Christian spirit which needs to underpin everything we do, according to Ministry Coordinator, Leo Walsh.
“By building in five minutes of quiet, prayerful reflection at the middle of each day, our school community, students, teachers and staff, have the opportunity to reflect on the quality of our lives and renew our spirits,” Mr Walsh said.
To help remember and develop its spiritual culture and traditions the school has named this quiet period each day our “MacKillop Moments”.
St Mary MacKillop is Australia’s first canonised saint and is best known as the founder of the Sisters of St Joseph.
Also starting this term is the MacKillop Mission Group, a loose organisation of students prepared to have a go at putting Mary MacKillop’s spirit into practice.
The most famous of Mary’s many sayings was “Never see a need without doing something about it.”
School Principal Robert Holstein said that the spirit of serving others and responding where there is a need was central to what it took to be a Catholic School in the 21st Century.
“We can’t be content with just repeating things the way they have always been done,” Mr Holstein said.
“Society is changing rapidly with new challenges and we have to develop new ways of responding to those challenges.”
Under Robert Holstein’s leadership this year, St. Joseph’s has embraced the Positive Education movement, which aligns on multiple levels to the Josephite spirit of the school.
These moves also reinforce the projects organised by the Upper Hunter’s ‘Where There’s a Will’ Charity, which assists students from Catholic, Independent and State schools to develop resilience and self-confidence in the face of challenges and adversity.
Mr Walsh said that the school’s emphasis on the spirituality of Mary MacKillop and the Sisters of St Joseph was in keeping with the school’s traditional emphasis on child-centred education, which sought to develop the whole person, head, heart and hands.
“Many modern approaches to health and wellness draw on the same wisdom which sees value in stopping for silence and reflection, seeking a positive focus each day,” Mr Walsh said.
“The MacKillop Moments remind us of our true values, and community service groups like the MacKillop Mission Group are valuable ways of putting those values into practice.”
School Principal Robert Holstein said that he was very pleased by the positive response of the students and staff who have embraced the new initiatives.
“We have the chance to provide a genuine and positive experience that will build on the many strengths of this outstanding school,” he said.