Term 3 Week 6 Newsletter
Dear FCJ College families,
This week we celebrated the 123rd anniversary of the FCJ Sisters arrival in Benalla and the founding of our wonderful school.
The day commenced with a moving liturgy ably led by our Youth Ministry students. A special part of the liturgy was a powerful reflection, by former student, parent, and current staff member, Donna Willcock on how Marie Madeleine’s vision for education is still driving our actions here at FCJ College Benalla. I share Donna’s reflection below.
My sincere thanks to all the staff and students who made our Founders’ Day a wonderful celebration of community and all that is special about our school. Importantly, Founders’ Day was also an opportunity to raise funds for our support of scholars from Malbago Village in the Philippines. With close to $3,000 raised, we are delighted to be able to sponsor a young person’s tertiary education once again in the Philippines. This year was made even more special with the announcement that our Philippines Immersion is back in 2024 and we are currently accepting expressions of interest from students who will be in Year 11 and 12 in 2024 to participate in this life-changing experience. Exciting times for all our community!
Reflection from Director of Catholic Identity – Ms Donna Willcock
This reflection is written from the perspective of a former student, parent and current teacher at FCJ College. Three generations of my family have had the privilege to be an active and supported member of this community. My mother was a student here, my Dad was employed as a woodwork teacher, my three sisters and I are past students, along with my daughter Jordie and my nephew Mitch. My parents are proud members of the FCJ Community Choir and treasure the time they have spent getting to know our Year 7 students during the practice sessions, the making of the video and the performance.
For Marie Madeleine, the central purpose of her life was to serve her God lovingly by lovingly serving others wherever she saw their need.
The characteristics of Catholic Education in the FCJ Tradition are Companionship, Gentleness, Justice and Courage and Confidence. Looking through the lens of these characteristics I can identify where Marie Madeleine’s vision is evident here at FCJ College Benalla.
When I walk through the gates of a morning, I feel a strong sense of welcome and belonging. As I enter the convent building, I am greeted with a warm and friendly smile from Sue or Sue, who never fail to wish me a good morning. This warm welcome is replicated repeatedly every day when students, parents, staff and visitors enter through the front sliding door. A true example of Companionship and Gentleness. Where the dignity and diversity of every person is respected and accepted.
The goal of the characteristic of Companionship is to provide an environment where all are supported to develop a faith-filled relationship with God. Students are encouraged to support each other, and to advocate for and accompany those on the margins. I have witnessed companionship at FCJ College in the way staff and students support each other in both the good and difficult times.
The school donated money to Food Bank in Shepparton during the COVID lockdown, we have participated in WYD events where we have sent staff and students across the world to experience what is possible when two or three gathers in Jesus’ name, we visit and have donated sporting goods to the Hermannsburg community and our school visits to the Village of Malbago, where students and staff have assisted their community in various ways during their stay. These opportunities and experiences have been life changing for all who have been fortunate to attend. We will hear from Shaun Jones this morning about his experience and the impact that it had and continues to have on him today.
I had the privilege to be a companion on one of the FCJ Pilgrimages to France to follow in the footsteps of Marie Madeleine. There I walked alongside pilgrims from Australia, England, Ireland and the FCJ Sisters on a journey to learn more about their foundress’ story. Marie Madeleine was driven by a strong sense of social justice to provide education to the marginalised. She worked tirelessly to bring to forefront injustices that were occurring by speaking for those who do not have a voice. This opportunity enabled me to bring to life the story of Gigi. Her faith and never give up attitude drove her to live out the values of the Gospels and to continue the ministry work of Jesus. She was a Companion.