It is hard to believe that we have only been back at school for four weeks as so much has already been achieved! I would like to extend a very warm welcome to all families that are new to the MSJ community. I hope that all students new to the College have felt accepted as part of our great College community.

Our theme for 2020 is, Humility Opens Us To Love. This is a beautiful theme as it challenges us to reflect on how we can be humble members of the MSJ community. One of the definitions of humility that really resonates with me is from St. Thomas Aquinas, a thirteenth century priest and theologian; ‘Humility means seeing ourselves as God sees us: knowing every good we have comes from Him as pure gift’. It is about knowing that God knows me and believes in me, and my capacity to love, to serve and to honour the gifts and talents that I have. It is about being authentic and true to myself without seeing myself as better than others and to ensure that my actions allow all to flourish.

There are so many examples of how Mary MacKillop lived her life with humility and how she required the Sisters to also be humble servants of God. Mary wrote the following words to the Sisters in 1886; ‘Work on humbly with the means God has placed at your disposal. I ask that all of us do the same, work humbly, use our God-given gifts and support each other to truly shine’.

Each year, I choose a song for us to reflect on for the year. This year’s song is by an Australian artist, Kate Miller-Heidke, and the title of the song is ‘Caught in the Crowd’. It is a song that reflects Kate’s own experiences of being bullied and of witnessing bullying and not doing anything about it. When asked about the song, Kate said, “I basically pretended to be someone I wasn’t, to have opinions I didn’t have. I was never the bully but I was definitely bullied and I also saw other people being bullied, and didn't have the courage to step in and then I later regretted it.”

The message in this song is clear – don’t get caught in the crowd, be true to yourself, be an individual! Treat others as you would like to be treated. Be an upstander, speak up against bullying and injustices. Do not be someone, who in fifteen years’ time, needs to say sorry for your actions.

Although the song is predominately about bullying, there is also a clear message for us about other aspects of our life. Do not be influenced by others to do things that you are not comfortable with. It is also about being humble, do not deny your gifts and talents because others in a crowd do not value them, do not get caught up in a crowd that is not right for you. The message in Kate’s song is one that we all should listen to and act on.

On Monday 3 February, the 2019 VCE/VCAL Awards Assembly was held in the Mary MacKillop Centre. This was a great opportunity for us, as a community, to acknowledge and congratulate the many students who achieved exceptional VCE and VCAL results in 2019. Congratulations to Olivia Vella, our College Dux, who achieved an ATAR of 98.35 . Well done to Mia Paladino who achieved a perfect score of 50 for Outdoor and Environmental Education. A full list of our high achievers and analysis of the 2019 VCE/VCAL results can be found further in this newsletter.

As was communicated to families last year, the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Scared Heart made the decision to transfer the governance of the College to the Archdiocese of Melbourne. This transfer took place on 12 December 2019. I would like to assure everyone that this change in governance will not impact on the day-to-day running of the College and that the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart and the Josephite charism will remain an integral and important part of College life.

On Tuesday 11 February, we had a beautiful Eucharistic celebration of thanksgiving and gratitude for the Sisters. Fourteen sisters attended the Mass, including Sr Mary Fermio, who was one of the first sisters to teach at the College. The Sisters, over many years, have played an important role in ensuring that our faith and the values of Mary MacKillop and the Sisters of St Joseph underpin all that we do. We are a Josephite school, we will continue to look to Jesus, Joseph, Mary MacKillop, Julian Tenison Woods and the Sisters of Saint Joseph for guidance, inspiration and wisdom. Thank you so much to Danielle Fairthorne, the College Faith Team and Sister Carmel Crameri for organising an absolutely beautiful Mass. I extend my gratitude to Fr John Healy for once again celebrating the Eucharist with us.

Well done to Providence House in winning the College Swimming Carnival. It was terrific to see so many students enthusiastically participating on the day. Congratulations to our individualist medallists and good luck to all who will now go on to compete in the SCSA Swimming Carnival early next month. A very big thank you to Sue Sofarnos, the College Sports Coordinator, and the many staff who organised this terrific carnival. A full report on the day can be found in the Sports section of the newsletter.

I encourage and challenge all members of our wonderful community to continue to be open to all the amazing learning opportunities that this year will bring. Let us all embrace our theme, Humility Opens Us To Love.

Kate Dishon - Principal