General Councillor, Br Rafa Matas, who is currently visiting Australia and New Zealand, attended three meetings yesterday in the Provincial Office, Sydney.
The first meeting included a group of Australian Lasallian Principals: Joyce Smith (Lasalle Academy, Lithgow); Mark Pauschman (James Sheahan Catholic High School, Orange); Christopher Agnew (De La Salle Catholic College, Caringbah); Tim Logue (De La Salle Catholic College, Revesby); and Phillip Scollard (Holy Spirit Catholic College, Lakemba).
While each of the Principals spoke of the strengths of their respective schools, there was much common ground: the growth of the Twinning program; the value of Br John Cantwell's Adult Formation programs; the Youth Ministry program; the Lasallian Principals' network; the work of the Lasallian Foundation; the Share the Mission program; and Julie Alibrandi's Container Project, to name but a few.
Challenges raised included: balancing commitments to Lasallian programs and those of Catholic education offices; managing multi-cultural demographics; the difficulties faced within low-socio-economic communities; the increasing secularisation within society, and so on.
Br Rafa expressed his gratitude for the work of the Principals, those present and all others involved in Lasallian schools, for their commitment to colleagues and students, and their families, within the Lasallian family. "I thank you for all that you do, often unknown to others, in serving the many needs, especially of the poor within the communities you serve and lead".
At the second meeting, Julie Alibrandi (LMC Operations Manager) and Merv McCormack (LMC Executive Director) explained the structure of the Lasallian Mission Council and Lasallian Mission Services' team. Br Rafa spoke of his appreciation for the leadership of LMC and LMS, and suggested that such models had much to commend for sustaining the future of the Lasallian mission in ANZPPNG and beyond. A delicious lunch prepared by Pauline Toms, (Provincial Office Administrator), and much enjoyed by Br Rafa, preceded the third meeting which addressed the work of the District Mission Assembly Preparatory Committee which is charged with the responsibility of developing the District's draft 2018-2021 Strategic Plan.
Tracy Adams (yourtown CEO and Chair of the Committee) and Chris Barrett (Facilitator of the Committee) joined fellow committee members Julie and Merv for this meeting. Br Rafa offered his congratulations on the committee's presentation and shared some interesting insights for consideration.
Br Rafa was a gracious guest and very appreciative of the opportunities afforded him on this, his first visit to Australia. Marcela Cuevas, the District Communications Manager, was an invaluable part of the day's success in her role as translator. Among her numerous skills, Marcela's fluency in Spanish meant that the day's proceedings were personable, professional and streamlined.
Over coming days, Br Rafa will attend yourtown in Brisbane, the Lasallian Foundation in Melbourne, the Lasallian Youth Gathering in Sydney, and will then attend the Lasallian Women's Symposium in Auckland, where Br Robert Schieler, Superior General, will deliver the symposium's opening keynote address.
Pictured: Br David Hawke and Australian Lasallian Principals: Phillip Scollard from Holy Spirit Catholic College, Lakemba; Christopher Agnew, De La Salle Catholic College, Caringbah; Mark Pauschman; James Sheahan Catholic High School, Orange; Br Rafael Matas, Joyce Smith from Lasalle Academy, Lithgow and Executive Director of LMC, Merv McCormack.