Posted by Anna Zsigovits-Mace & Christina Hermanns
on 7 July 2020
I thought I would talk about our Special Character and what it means to attend a Catholic School in Aotearoa New Zealand.
The Special Character at Francis Douglas Memorial College is more than a couple of words that separate us from State Schools. Our name on the wall at the bottom of our driveway states we are: "A Catholic Lasallian School for Boys."
We are rightly proud of our status within the community and among our families which holds Francis Douglas Memorial College in high esteem.
Our curriculum is varied, our teachers are knowledgeable, caring and effective, our sports programmes and extracur-ricular activities offer many opportunities for the boys to be involved in a variety of interests, our service programme is active in the community and our Special Character is well covered with events and opportunities for personal development.
On sending your son to Francis Douglas Memorial College you are agreeing to their participation in all activities. This includes academic, sport, culture and Special Character. Retreats are one of these Special Character events. Every Year Level will have a one day retreat every year. These retreats are based around specic themes and a lot of effort goes into planning a day that is varied. We have speakers, fun activities, quiet reective time and some form of celebration. This is either a Mass or a Liturgy. The boys are able to wear mufti. We provide snacks and lunch.
Mrs Christina Hermanns, Retreat Cooridnator, has written the below article on the recent Year 11 Retreat.
Year 11 Retreat
The year 11 students at Francis Douglas Memorial College gathered in the chapel for their retreat focussed on 'What's important?'.
The students took part in activities to consider important things in their lives. These included: deciding who the important people are, right now, in their lives and who they would seat at their tables. All sorts of people were invited from family members to famous people would Jesus have a place at the table? The bomb shelter activity saw the boys decide who would be saved if there was only room for 6 people in a bomb shelter. Would the 30 year old SAS soldier who could not have children get a place or the wheelchair bound geolo-gist who could help recover fossil fuels but refuses to leave his twin boys behind? What about the agricultural scientist who is secretly part of the white supremacist movement? The boys had to decide who got to live and who was left behind. Mr Basile got the boys thinking of the importance of brotherhood through song and Hika Perez provided an opportunity for the boys to meditate and reect.
Our guest speaker for the retreat was Mrs Dalliston, who sparked the boys' interest by sharing her experience of volunteering in a Lasallian school in Papua New Guinea. She highlighted the contract between things we take for granted in New Zealand and the reality of life in a developing nation. The students heard about the dedication of their Lasallian brothers and sisters who are struggling to make a life for themselves in very difficult circumstances.
Later, Mrs Chylek-Peters shared a short story about a boy who is faced with the tough reality of being a new boy compounded by enduring gynecomastia. Although this topic is not often discussed, the boys all agreed that everyone faces challenges and situations that can be embarrassing, but having supportive friends makes all the difference.
The day concluded with Liturgy of the Word and anointing by the senior leaders. The boys went away with a lot to think about. Thank you to the boys who participated so well and to the staff for facilitating the activities.
The retreat days are an aspect of student life that makes Francis Douglas Memorial College different from secular schools.
Live Jesus in our Hearts!