From the Principal - 17 October 2018

From the Principal - 17 October 2018

From the Principal – 17 October 2018

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Over the last few weeks there have been some remarkable expressions of the St Hilda’s community in action. A small team from our staff convened and hosted an International Conference to encourage creativity and innovation in education. Our teaching staff have shown their leadership in this space and it was a wonderful success. I would like to commend: Cathy Hunt, Terry Jacka, Janelle Maurer and Dan Martinez for their leadership in this initiative. If you would like to read and see a little more of the excitement of the event, please click this link: https://www.ipadartroom.com/techpalooza-2018/

We have also celebrated the induction of our new student leaders and welcomed friends and family to join us for this important milestone.

The third significant moment was our annual Fete which was shaping up to be a fantastic community event. As we all know, the weather was challenging and we reluctantly cancelled the event in the interests of keeping our girls and families safe.  I would like to thank Mrs Simone Crowther, Mrs Debbie DiMartino and the many staff and volunteers that not only prepared all things for the event but took the sad news with good grace. We were all disappointed but, as I speak to members of our farming community who have received the first rain in a long time, I think we can all keep it in perspective.

The fourth event was our very special St Hilda’s Day service with an Embracing Diversity theme. We enjoyed a very special service after which the entire school had the privilege of some wonderful dancing with Anishka Kala (Prep) and her family. Sharing special cupcakes, sport in the Gym and lots of laughter, the day was very special.

I include here my St Hilda’s Day address for you to read and consider.

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Every year on St Hilda’s Day, I want to take a line from the Homily and see how it can help us as a community to keep growing. This year the line I have chosen is:

Bend your minds to holy learning that you may escape the fretting moth of littleness of mind that would wear out your souls

What does it mean to bend your mind to holy learning?

I think that is exactly what we are doing here – we have Father Patrick leading our service today where we will hear from the Bible, we will sing songs, we will pray and share communion. But holy learning isn’t limited to chapel services. I think holy learning means being able to take our eyes off ourselves and consider a bigger picture of the world and a perspective that God’s wisdom can give us.

Now to the picture of the fretting moth of littleness of mind. What a great image.

Have you ever seen a moth trapped? It flutters its wings and darts from side to side – it is often an image of distress and uncertainty. Sometimes they seem to be trapped in a corner and unable to fly free.

Have you ever felt like this? Perhaps it’s because you have felt alone or afraid? Worried about how you will face the challenges you have? Perhaps you felt different? If you can say yes to that then I think you have felt the fretting moth of littleness of mind. The thing to remember about this is that we have all felt this way from time to time. I guarantee you there is no one in this hall today who hasn’t felt it.

I think St Hilda might be challenging us to consider the bigger picture of God’s world rather than be trapped like a fretting moth in our own little corner.

Well how do we do this?

I think we do it by helping one another.
I think we do it by seeing a bigger picture of our world and our place in it.
I think we do it by knowing that Non Nobis Solum is the very best way to live.
I think we do it by really embracing diversity and showing empathy in practical ways.

The Bible tells us that we are all made in the image of God. That is a beautiful message.

It tells us that we are very important to our heavenly Father.
It also tells us that we can encourage one another in ways that are very powerful.
It also reminds us that we need to value and cherish the people around us.

Your fellow students, your teachers, your parents and other relatives all have the potential to show you something of God’s wonderful world.

That is precious.

And this is especially true if the person who is showing you something about God’s world is very different to you.

What if your best friend spoke a different language? What if she came from a different part of the world and had had life experiences that were not anything like yours? What if, despite these differences, you found a connection that was real and valuable. Then I think you would be well on your way to avoiding the fretting moth of littleness of mind.

I have invited two girls from Year 11 to help me explore this today. Mariia and Hannah join me today to share something of their story to bring this to life.

Mariia and Hannah are in Year 11. They are best friends. Mariia comes from Russia and Hannah comes from South Korea. They met as boarders here at St Hilda’s. They were both struggling to learn to speak English and fit in to a community on the Gold Coast which was so completely different to what they had known growing up. Despite their differences they found a connection as friends which I think demonstrates what I am talking about. Mariia has shared that she has learnt so much from Hannah, and that their friendship has helped her in her learning.  Hannah shared that getting to know Mariia made her even more determined to learn English so they could be friends.

Here is my challenge to you today.

If you ever feel that the fretting moth of littleness of mind is flapping around in your heart and you are feeling alone or worried – I urge you to reach out to one another and see if there might be ways in which you can see something of God’s beauty in the people around you.

St Hilda herself worked to provide a bridge between the Celtic and the Roman cultures of her day which were at odds with one another. Mariia and Hannah show perfectly how embracing difference can enrich our lives.

But because St Hilda has challenged us to consider bending our minds to “holy learning”, I want to take this a step further.

I have been reading about the life of a woman called Magda Trocme. Magda and her family lived in the alps in France during WWII.  France was invaded by the Germans, and at that time the Nazi authorities under Hitler had a mission to round up all people of Jewish faith with the terrible aim to imprison and execute them. This was a dreadful time for our world.

But because Magda and her husband Andre were people dedicated to holy learning they saw the world differently. As part of their Christian faith they believed that love was a value they would not compromise.

Above the church door were Jesus’ words: “love one another” from John 13: “Love one another as I have loved you”. This was not an empty phrase to them – it was something they were prepared to live and die for. When Jewish children and families arrived on their doorstep running for their lives and asking for help, they wanted to put their love into action. Under the leadership of the Trocmes the village of Le Chambon became a haven for Jews who were fleeing persecution. They hid children and families throughout the town and overtime saved the lives of thousands of Jewish children and adults.

This love in action was a great risk to them, it was against the government ruling and they could be killed for doing it. Magda called it a “conspiracy of goodness” and despite Andre’s imprisonment in an internment camp, they continued to honour the value of those who were being persecuted for their difference. In fact, on one very frightening night the authorities came to the Trocme’s door and demanded that Andre tell them where all the Jews were hiding or they would imprison him. Andre took a deep breath and said, “We do not know what a Jew is. We only know men.”

St Hilda calls us to this kind of holy learning. She challenges us to consider what it means to love others. To really love others, we need to do two things: firstly, celebrate differences and appreciate what they can bring us, but, secondly, also recognise that we are all the same and that as we are all made in God’s image we are equally valuable in God’s eyes.

Mariia and Hannah know they are different. I think they have celebrated that – but they have also built a friendship that shows that what they share in common outweighs the differences. If we can be inspired to love one another in ways which embrace both our differences and honour our common humanity, then we will avoid the fretting moth of littleness of mind.

This term I challenge you to find out more about the girls around you. Open your minds to the different cultures and experiences that your friends bring but, in the spirit of St Hilda, look for those things that bring us together despite our differences and look for ways to build friendships like Mariia and Hannah have done.

After our service today, we have some fun things planned. I hope they will remind us that celebrating difference and uniting in activity can be the best thing for our souls.

Happy St Hilda’s Day.

Dr Julie Wilson Reynolds
Principal 

 

 

 

 

Love, Compassion, Forgiveness, Hope, Grace