Last December, Pope Francis began the Holy Year of Mercy, inviting us all to open wide the doors of our hearts. For this, our school theme for 2016 is “Be the Face of Mercy”. To help us apply this theme, the leadership team has constructed fortnightly reflections, which we call “The Map to Mercy”. I would like to share with you our 12th map to Mercy for the year:
This Map-to-Mercy is that indifference is the obstacle to mercy: mercy’s first step is to fight indifference.
Indifference “makes our hearts grow cold”. It blocks the channels of mercy just like blood clots in the veins. Being indifferent blocks the channel of God’s love and mercy that He wants to radiate through each one of us. We cannot do charitable works of mercy if our hearts are unmoved.
Pope Francis is inviting everyone to open their hearts to God and to overcome a “globalization of indifference”. Being indifferent causes individuals and communities to withdraw into themselves, closing their doors and their hearts. The Pope teaches us to pray for a heart that becomes, “merciful, attentive and generous, a heart which is not closed, indifferent or prey to the globalization of indifference.” St Paul teaches us ““If one member suffers, all suffer together”.
This ties in with the corporal work of mercy: “shelter the homeless”. It is very easy for us to be indifferent to people on the streets around us because it is easier to ignore them and “follow the crowd”. Being indifferent means that we do not care and sometimes we chose not to care because it takes less effort – it is the simple way out. However, sometimes what’s easy isn’t necessarily what’s right and in the words of Dumbledore: “there will be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right.”
Indifference will grow in us if we choose to close ourselves off from the world and focus only on our own comfort, pleasure and problems without looking up to see if we can help someone in need. Let’s try to put others first and to be more aware of our surroundings: at school, at home, and on the street.
To begin the school year, we had our Leadership Mass, welcoming the Year 9s into our college and acknowledging and celebrating our Year 13s as leaders for 2016. Following the mass, our Yr 13s performed the St Mary’s College Haka, gifted to the school by former HOD of Science, Mrs Paula Hay, at the end of 2015. Performing the Haka to the rest of the school, teachers and guests was a sign of the Yr 13s service and leadership to the school and a challenge for the younger students to stand up and be women of Hato Maria.
At the Mass, the Leadership Team (Keva Ready, Emma Botha, Indyah Tavae, Elani Leuniauvau, Laura Gianotti and myself) announced the school theme of the year: ‘Be the face of Mercy’. Pope Francis announced 2016 as the year of Mercy. What a better occasion to celebrate a value that is already at the heart of our College. To reflect the theme, the Leadership Team also introduced a new initiative: ‘Map to Mercy’. Every two weeks in the daily notices we put a small and simple act of mercy that we encourage the girls to achieve in their school, social or personal life. These little ways of mercy will be our road map to become the face of mercy in our environment.
In order to come up with an artistic image for our 2016 school theme, the leadership Team set the school the challenge of ‘Be the Face of Mercy’ art contest. This was open to any student in the school and their task was to come up with an image that represented our theme. Many girls entered and I congratulate all of them for taking the challenge and putting their ideas out there. The amount of pride that was put into each entry was really inspiring and unique! This art pieces will be displayed in the foyer.
Next, we kicked the year off with a bang as our girls dressed up in house colours and embraced our powerful school spirit on Athletics Day. The spirit, sisterhood and energy present was engulfing and brought everyone from the year 9s to 13s together as we witnessed together great athletes as well as supported our own Houses with great joy and laughter.
In Term 1, the school launched our PB4L (Positive Behaviour for Learning) initiative, directed by Ms Coltman and Ms Hurst. They introduced to the school our STAR acronym. S – strive to achieve, T – take the challenge, A – ako in action, R – respect our values. STAR lays out achievable, motivational and healthy goals to encourage students to thrive for and achieve excellence in all aspects of their lives. Each term we will focus on a specific aspect of STAR. In Term 1, we focused on R – respect our values. The schools response to this initiative has been fantastic and inspiring.
Summer sports began with many girls getting involved and participating in the many sports activities of the School. Our girls have made us more than proud with some astounding results, nationally and inter-collegiately namely our Rugby 7s Team (who came first in New Zealand), our senior touch team, our senior A Volleyball team, our Yr 13 dragon boating team, and our Waka Ama teams. These are only a few of the sporting achievements that Term 1 brought.
Stage challenge, Poly club, music lessons, Prima and Schola choirs, Vinnies, Environmental club and many other of our school’s cultural, arts and academic groups have already started up with a great enthusiasm displayed by the students. Many of our senior girls took part in Relay for Life and represented the school with pride for a good cause. Donations of money (and hair) is always a sign of our girls’ great generosity of heart.
To conclude this amazing term, we had a whole school inter-house Haka competition on the last day of school where each House took the time to learn and perform the Haka. The day concluded with the whole school performing the Haka together. The school spirit that day was breath-taking and spine tingling.
It was such a powerful way to end the term and it was empowering and humbling to witness my St Mary’s sisters making history.
Term 1 has been a blast and I can’t wait for the blessings that await in Term 2!!