2011 Report on Presentation Schools Conference

 

In recent years we have seen a marked growth among Presentation Schools (both those we own and ‘heritage’ schools) sharing and planning for the preservation of the charism. Senior staff met in Sydney in 2006, developing such enthusiasm and sense of community that they took over the initiative and work for future gatherings:

  • St Mary’s Hobart hosted a gathering of Year 10 students in 2007
  • Senior staff met the following year in Brisbane in 2008, thanks to St Rita’s College
  • Year 10 students met in Melbourne in 2009, thanks to Star and Windsor Colleges
  • Senior staff met in Perth in March 2011, thanks to Iona College and primary school

A Year 10 event is planned for June 2011, thanks to Star of the Sea, Melbourne; and Domremy has offered the next Year 10 gathering in 2012.

It has been encouraging to see the commitment and creativity of these events, where the sisters have taken on a more collaborative, background presence, to be partners with the lay people who are so passionate about Nano and the Presentation spirit, to take ownership and responsibility in these events.

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Year 10 students with Presentation Sisters at the Presentation Schools Conference
in Melbourne in 2009

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Report from Presentation Schools Conference (March 2011):

We were warmly welcomed to Freemantle by the Indigenous custodians of that place in their language, in English and with a wonderful didgeridoo. The conference organisers, and the PBVM Leaders also bade us welcome. It was good to share the time with the Leadership Teams of both our Colleges and with representatives from Heritage schools from Emerald and Rockhampton. There were old friends too, such as Sue Bunkum, past Deputy from St Rita’s and many of our WA Sisters, as well as the two Thai Sisters who attended.

Two keynote speakers were from the USA. Kathleen Dolphin pbvm is Director of the Centre for Spirituality at St Mary’s College, Indiana. She opened up many faith dilemmas facing the generation of “Emerging Adults”, those in their 20s who are raising challenging questions for the Church and for educators. Dale McDonald pbvm is Director Public Policy and Educational Research for the National Catholic Educational Association in Washington DC. Dale explored issues that confront young people in western societies – moral decision-making and interaction with cultures, sacredness of creation, civic engagement, consumer preferences, identity and cohesion, depersonalisation of social relationships that often emerge from new technologies that make it easier to avoid relating and limit inter-generational communication.

Other speakers included Clare Sciesinski pbvm WA, Senior Lecturer in New Testament Studies at University of Notre Dame, Fremantle, Joan Evans pbvm, speaking about her work in Thailand, Alice Nelson, who works with refugees in Perth, Lucy Van Kessel, discussing her work for justice. Geraldine Doogue was the facilitator of the conference. There were “break-out” sessions covering a wide variety of issues affecting schools, trips to a number of sites, and a lot of social interaction.

The final liturgy was held at St Patrick’s Basilica in Fremantle. The singing was led by the students from Iona College and the pupils from Iona Primary did a liturgical dance. The dinner that followed was truly a celebratory meal.

Rosemary Grundy pbvm and Maria Joyner pbvm