The Best Week of the Year

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23 March 2016

By Stephen Elder, Executive Director Catholic Education 

Catholic Education Week in 2016 was a wonderful celebration of our schools, their beautiful students and the jubilee Year of Mercy. Students at Catholic Education Week, holding banners.

Thousands of students took up this year’s theme, to Be the Face of Mercy, in what was a truly outstanding example of what makes the Catholic education system great. I believe it is critical for our students to understand and witness up close the fact that their school is part of a giant Catholic education community.

The success of the week was encapsulated by the thoughts of Victorian political leaders in both government and opposition who commented publically on the ‘enormous job’ Catholic schools do in Victoria and ‘beautiful connection’ made between children’s education and their faith.

As always, the joint-school mass with His Grace, Archbishop Denis Hart was a pleasure to witness on St Patrick’s Day. Led by Celtic Irish Pipers, all 331 Archdiocese of Melbourne primary and secondary schools were invited to proudly fly their school’s colours at St Patrick’s Cathedral, where Archbishop Hart led a celebration of the Eucharist.

For many of the three thousand odd students involved it was their first time inside the Cathedral and, not surprisingly, the magnitude and majesty of the Mother Church really expands their young minds.

It was also a privilege to have Victorian Education Minister and Deputy Premier Mr James Merlino and Mr Graham Hartnett from the Embassy of Ireland in Deputy Premier Mr James Merlino and Mr Graham Hartnett from the Embassy of Ireland attending the mass with studentsattendance. 

A central part of the mass was a pledge by all students, teachers and Catholic Education Melbourne staff to God and his teachings: 

We commit ourselves to spreading the Good news of Jesus Christ by working together in respect, love and peace, making God’s Kingdom a reality in the world. Today we re-commit ourselves to Catholic education and to the caring for all those in our school community. 

Despite the heat of the day, the annual Concert in the Park at Treasury Gardens was also a joy to behold, and to hear!

The quality of the Catholic school bands on stage was absolutely amazing, rivalled only by the popularity of Justin Bieber among the students singing, dancing and generally having fun on the grass.

The final activity on St Patrick’s Day itself is the Speakers Colloquium. This year it featured the incredible journeys of Prue Kenny and Sophia Griffiths-Mark. These impressive ladies took the ‘opportunity for all’ and ‘faith and persistence’ principles they learnt as former school captains at Sacred Heart College, Newtown, all the way to the United Nations in New York.

Bishop Mark Edwards also chaired a discussion on the Australian Catholic Youth Festival in Adelaide last December, and 2014 Time to Shine soloist Celine Torres performed and spoke of her achievements on the musical stage.

And then of course there is the stunning week long Visual Arts Display. This is always a thought provoking window into creative and artistic minds of Catholic students of all ages in all forms of media.

Across all year-levels, the quality of work on display is best described in one word ‘breathtaking’. 

I was particularly taken by an amazing piece by Bayley Mifsud from Star of the Sea College, Brighton, and plan to hang that in the office of Catholic Students from St Damian's, Bundoora, with the Archbishop of Melbourne, Dennis Har, and the Executive Director of Catholic Education Melbourne, Stephen Elder.Education Melbourne.

Congratulations to every student whose work was chosen for display, and indeed all students and the many, many schools who ensured Catholic Education Week was recognised at a local level.

The energy, achievement, faith and care of our students and our schools is what sets Catholic education apart
each and every week of the school year.


Mass of St Patrick for Schools  

Massed choirs: Loyola College, Watsonia; Our Lady of Sion College, Box Hill; Thomas Carr College, Tarneit.

Readers and offerings representing anniversary schools: 100 years – Holy Rosary School, Kensington. 75 years – St Bernard’s School, Coburg East; St Benedict’s School, Burwood. 50 years – St Damian’s School, Burwood.


Concert in the Park  Student performing at the concert in the park

Music: Emmaus College, Vermont South, soul band; Sacred Heart Girls’ College, Oakleigh, concert band;
Liam Jones, St Monica’s School, Moonee Ponds.

Activities: Penola College, Broadmeadows.


Visual Arts Display excellence 

Eileen Canty Award (Primary) – Meet Stephen – A Self-portrait – Stephen Trac, Prep, St Bernadette’s School, Sunshine North  

Julia Flynn Memorial Award (Secondary) – Self-portrait (Happy) – Alicia Grasso, Year 12, St Monica’s College, Epping

Archbishop’s Award for Religious Art (Primary)Condemnation – Amy Do-Tran, Year 6, St Margaret’s School, Maribyrnong

Archbishop’s Award for Religious Art (Secondary)James – Alexandra Counsel, Year 9, Santa Maria College, Northcote

Australian Catholic University Social Justice Award (Primary) A Bowl of Many Colours – Joshua Vo, Year 3, Holy Eucharist School, St Albans South

Australian Catholic University Award for Social Justice (Secondary) Untitled – Thomas Grimshaw, Year 12, Xavier College, Kew  Alejandra Turcious, Loyola College, Watsonia, with her award winning portrait, Trojan Belisario.

Catholic Education Week Year 12 AwardSubconscious – Pam Jarmcharoen, Year 12, Presentation College Windsor, Windsor

Executive Director’s Acquisition Award  

Identity – Bayley Mifsud, Year 11, Star of the Sea College, Brighton

Strength – Isaac Dwyer, Year 12, Whitefriars College, Donvale

Melbourne Catholic Magazine Award (Primary)Saviour – Benjamin Nguyen, Year 6, St Margaret’s School, Maribyrnong

Melbourne Catholic Award (Secondary)Bowerbird – Alexandra Scherrer, Year 12, Loreto Mandeville Hall Toorak, Toorak

Serra Club Portraiture Award (Primary) My Portrait – Alyssa Brasier, Year 6, Holy Eucharist School, St Albans

Serra Club Portraiture Award (Secondary)Trojan Bellisario – Alejandra Turcios, Year 10, Loyola College, Watsonia 

People’s Choice Award (Primary)Black Saturday Fire –Year 6 Class, St Bernadette’s School, Sunshine

People’s Choice Award (Secondary) Strength – Isaac Dwyer, Year 12, Whitefriars College, Donvale

Visual Arts Exhibition Catalogue CoverAwardNaomi – Ruth Garcia, Year 12, St Monica’s College, Epping

Visual Arts Exhibition Committee Award (Primary)Pink Daisies – Leah Ruthven, Year 6, St Joan of Arc School, Brighton

Visual Arts Exhibition Committee Award (Secondary)New York Times Squared – Jordan Nandan, Year 10, St James College, Bentleigh East

ZART ART Award (Primary) – St Bernadette’s School, Sunshine North

 ZART ART Award (Secondary) – Sacré Cœur, Glen Iris