Vinnies Winter Sleepout

This term has certainly brought about some wonderful highlights in faith and education which include our College Vinnies Winter SleepOut on Friday 14 July. We had over 60 participants sign up to sleep rough for a worthy cause and raise $1224 for Vinnies Victoria. We were blessed to have three local College Vinnies Presidents from Altona, Newport, and Altona Meadows/Laverton along with the Secondary Vinnies Youth Engagement Officer. Students made and donated over 50 care packages for women along with new winter items for those who are doing it tough in our local community. Giving to charity is a wonderful way to make a positive impact on someone's life and help them to live with dignity and respect. This event not only shed a light on the plight of homelessness and touched the hearts of those present but brought us closer in partnership with our local Vinnies Conferences. Year 10 student Ebony Silva shares her reflections.

Our Vinnies Winter Sleepout was a very compelling experience, it made me appreciate the little things in life. Previously, I attended virtual ones due to Covid-19 where we could either sleep on our couch, in a car or our bed with no blankets. This year, we hosted it in our College Gym. The evening commenced with an engaging presentation led by our Youth in Action team along with local Conference Presidents from the St Vincent De Paul Society. Following this, we joined together for dinner and participated in various learning workshops which included making care packages for women, shelter building, guessing daily item prices, making a blanket and a Homelessness quiz. At the end of the evening, we watched a movie on Netflix called ‘All Together Now’ which is about a teen girl falling through the cracks of a society and faced with homelessness.

The experience has made me feel more grateful for all the things I take for granted like food, warmth, and privacy. It helped me understand the struggles people go through every day to find meals. They may find it difficult to get warmth throughout the day as heating and blankets may be luxuries. Privacy is something homeless people do not have as they live on the streets, where anyone can see them, and they don’t have a place to call home. This demonstrates how differently homeless people live to people who can afford housing and expresses that each person has a unique story. One message I can pass onto others is to be kind to those who need it most, to smile and interact with someone who may be doing it tough or give a donation, if possible, not just ignoring them by turning and looking the other way.

Another College article published on the Melbourne Archdiocese of Melbourne website:

JJAMM Week & Feast Day (7-11 August)

For those who are new to our community, JJAMM is an acronym for Joseph, Julian (Tenison Woods) and Mary MacKillop. It is a very special week for all Josephite school communities (AJASS). This year, we looked for creative ways to fundraise for the non-profit organisation ‘Mary Mackillop Today’ who continues in the spirit of Saint Mary of the Cross and the vision of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart.

The week opened by paying tribute to Father Julian Tenison Woods who had a strong connection to Mother Earth and all creation. We showed collective support with an energy saving challenge, turning off non-essential electrics and goods for the day e.g., no lights or heaters. We were encouraged to wear a warm winter item such as a beanie, scarf, gloves, jacket or 'oodie' for a gold coin donation, raising close to $1000. To conclude the day, staff came together for a faith formation session about the life and times of Father Julian Tension Woods and his influence in the 19th Century through to today.

On Tuesday, our Café sold pimped up jam donuts with a portion of proceeds donated, and our very popular annual ‘JJAMM’ donut eating contest was hosted at lunchtime where staff and student volunteers went head-to-head to take out the annual win.

Wednesday, we devoted our prayers to St Joseph, a father, refugee, and role model. We creatively celebrated in his spirit by hosting a LEGO building competition. The LEGO Foundation supports refugee children all over the world and Saint Joseph fled Egypt to protect his family from danger, threat, and violence.

Thursday was certainly a highlight with our Teacher Dunk Tank. Student leaders sold raffle tickets to go into the draw to dunk a teacher. This was an exciting, entertaining, and excellent fundraising idea. A special congratulations to all our very brave teacher dunkees, particularly our Principal. This created great community spirit and for some was an all time favourite.

And, to the final big one, Feast Day! We opened with a lovely Thanksgiving Mass celebrated by Archpriest Michael Kalka and Fr John Healy. Our choir truly set a prayerful tone with their angelic voices and the liturgy included processions, relevant readings and prayers led by students and staff. Archpriest Michael brought alive the scriptures and so eloquently connected them back to Saint Mary’s life and how we can walk in her footsteps today. We were blessed to have several Sisters of St Joseph and members of the College Board join us on this occasion.

Our afternoon was full of festivities with over 25 student run fundraising stalls complemented with rides, a petting zoo, food trucks, student bands, and a talent show. This entire day was certainly an opportunity to reflect upon, celebrate and nurture our rich Josephite charism. We were encouraged to lead with a Josephite heart and rejoice in the legacy Saint Mary of the Cross Mackillop has left us.

Reflection on JJAMM Week and Feast Day

I found last week's Feast Day and JJAMM Week to be profoundly fulfilling and inspiring. JJAMM Week is an exhilarating time for everyone at MSJ, and it surpassed all expectations. The influence of Mary MacKillop was palpable, and the school's engagement and enthusiasm for the Feast Day stalls were evident. The concept of incorporating stalls, rides, and games that align with Mary MacKillop's values was executed skillfully. This approach not only made the day enjoyable for all but also established a meaningful connection to her service, beliefs, and involvement in the Catholic Church.

JJAMM Week featured diverse activities each day. Personally, the Teacher Dunk was favourite for me, and it appeared to be similarly enjoyable for numerous other students. Another notable event was the Feast Day Mass, which brought the entire community together to celebrate Saint Mary MacKillop's life. This experience uplifted and inspired us, allowing us to recognise her positive influence on our school and the church.

MSJ undeniably boasts remarkable talent. The "MSJ’s Got Talent" competition, which marked the end of JJAMM Week and Feast Day, showcased a multitude of deserving students with diverse abilities performing before the school. The abundant support shown for every student exemplifies our collective encouragement and appreciation for each individual's contributions.

In summary, JJAMM Week and Feast Day proved to be a truly memorable and captivating experience for everyone. The successful stalls, engaging activities, and the sense of community established during this time will undoubtedly become cherished memories for many during their time at MSJ. Mia Munro, Year 9

“Pray that a great unity may prevail, that charity may shine, and a holy unworldly wisdom influence every word and act. Whoever we are or wherever we may be, let self be forgotten and let God's glory, his will and the general good alone absorb our thoughts, deliberations, and actions.” Prayer From the writings of Mary of the Cross MacKillop (1898)

Anne Severi - Director of Catholic Identity