St Edith Stein (1881-1942) came from a large German Jewish family. Very bright and academically inclined, she had a brilliant university career in philosophy and became assistant to the famous philosopher Edmund Husserl. She had considered herself an atheist since she was thirteen, but by her mid-twenties she was again reflecting on questions about God, without wishing to commit herself. Then one night at a friend’s place she dipped into the autobiography of St Teresa of Avila, sat up all night to finish it, and decided to become a Catholic. She was already well-known as a philosopher and as an advocate for women in the early German feminist movement when Nazi anti-Semitic laws excluded her from public life.
In 1933 she joined the Carmelite nuns and her writings took on a much more mystical character. Despite a move to Holland which was thought would save her, Edith and her sister Rosa were arrested at the Carmel of Echt on 2 August 1942 and shipped to Auschwitz. They were dead a week later. Edith’s last recorded words were: “Come, Rosa, let us go for our people.” She stands for study, wisdom, heroism, the search for God, acceptance of what cannot be changed, and of all that binds Judaism and Christianity together. Her feast is celebrated on 9 August.
God of the Covenant, walking always with us, guide us on the way of acceptance, understanding, respecting all ways to you, reconciliation. Help us to know that racism and reconciliation are not abstracts but allies. Give us the courage to replace fear with welcome. Grant us the love to be peacemakers. And lead us to discover in Saint Edith Stein that trust in you that is the only way to bringing peace to this battered world.
CatholicCare’s African Dads and Kids Program
Edith Stein’s House Charity is CatholicCare, and over the past two years we have donated funds specifically to their African Dads and Kids program. This program aims to support refugee families living in Melbourne by assisting the African Dads and their children as they learn to interact in an Australian context. Apart from other activities, CatholicCare runs a yearly camp which tries to address the many challenges these families face as they adjust to a new culture and life. The program provides opportunities for families to discuss topics such as respecting traditional cultures and as well as a new way of life, family life in Africa compared with in Australia, and bonding as a family. The camp is run at Queenscliff, where our Year 11 students attend their Kairos Retreats. The funds we have raised as a House have enabled more families to attend this camp (which is not supported by the Government) and has also allowed CatholicCare to pay for psychologists to attend the camp to support the children, in particular, many of whom are suffering from post-war related trauma. To support our House Charity we have had House raffles and fund-raising blitz weeks.