Welcome to term three!
We especially welcome new staff members, students and families to Whitefriars.
Our first week of this term is ‘Social Justice Week’ and the students and staff have fully supported it. The focus of the week was about highlighting the need for all of us to foster equality amongst all cultures, races and gender. This was a fitting theme as we celebrate on Saturday 16 July, the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. This Feast Day is celebrated by all Carmelite Communities across the world. For us here at Whitefriars we celebrated with a large number gathering at the College Chapel for our annual Mother and Son Mass.
The College will further celebrate this important Feast day later in the term, when the weather will hopefully be a lot kinder for the many activities and celebrations that are planned.
The Carmelite devotion to Mary is seen as a way for us to get to know Christ better. The richness of knowing the Mother allows us to get to know the Son. This recent article I wrote takes up this theme.
At a recent KAIROS Retreat for the Year 11 students, past College Captain, Jonathon Deller (Class of 2012), gave a talk to the retreatants and in his presentation he used a quote he had borrowed from Mark Bolton, senior coach of the Carlton Football Club. Bolton challenged his new coaching team at the start of the season with:
‘No one knows us as Carlton people… there is a difference between “I work at Carlton and I am Carlton.”’
Jonathon rephrased the statement for the students: ‘…there is a difference between “I attend Whitefriars or I AM Whitefriars.”’ The look of approval of the latter was very much evident on the student faces.
So, what does “I AM Whitefriars” mean?
Any attempt to try and articulate what “I AM Whitefriars” means is always going to come up short. For starters, it doesn’t mean it’s a title solely owned by the present students of the College. It is a statement that anyone who has been connected with the College can claim ownership of. Why? To “be Whitefriars” refers to more than buildings and beautiful surroundings, it is a belief, a faith statement, a purpose and way of life. It lives in the centre of our being, and speaks of who we are as a people.
The late Fr. Noel Kierce O.Carm, always insisted that the most important gift we can offer the students (past and present), staff and families of our College, is to be able to find the presence of God in each person. In some cases a tough assignment, but if we are truly committed to embracing and to living out our Carmelite Charism of Prayer, Community and Action, then welcoming and celebrating the presence of God in each member of our community is what St Paul writes about when he says; “…in belonging to each other, we belong to Christ.’ (2Cor10:7)
The Carmelite tenet of Contemplation (Prayer) means to contemplate the face of Jesus, the humanity of Jesus and the flesh of Jesus. Contemplation is the depth of prayer that doesn’t mean you have to leave the flesh behind in order to discover divinity. Nor do you have to leave the humanity behind to discover God. To contemplate the face of Jesus is to contemplate the humanity of Jesus and the flesh of Jesus and to discover that he is not totally distant and removed from us, but is a God who is always and only in the flesh.
Our God is the flesh of human experience; of human events, the mess, the sweat, blood and tears, that’s where God is to be found, in each person.
Our challenge is to discover at the heart of those we meet, the extraordinary presence of Jesus by learning Christ from Mary.
Who better can teach us more about Christ than the one who knows him best? Mary can help us to discover God’s ways, to understand his message and to bring to Christ with Mary our humanity, our lives. Mary shared her life from the moment the child stirred in her womb right through to the bitter end. She becomes more and more like the one whom she bore and the same is the call to all of us. In other words, Mary moulds us, shapes us as she did Jesus. That’s what is meant by contemplating Christ with her. Simply, it is wanting and finding the presence of God in each other.
On a final but sad note we ask that you keep James Barclay Year 9L and his family in your houghts and prayers after the recent loss of his grandfather. May the Lord welcome him into His keeping.
Almae In Fide Parentis