Catholic Education Week in Queensland is celebrated in the third week of the third school term each year. It is an opportunity for all Catholic Education ministries to celebrate their distinctive mission and share the great things they are doing with their school, parish and wider communities.
The 2016 Catholic Education Week (July 24 to 30) theme was Opening Doors in the Year of Mercy. The theme reflects Catholic education’s commitment to providing students with opportunities to reach their full potential in all aspects of their development – spiritual, intellectual, physical, cultural, social and emotional – as well as sharing in the global Church’s celebration of the Holy Year of Mercy.
Pope Francis declared that from 8 December 2015 until 20 November 2016 the church will celebrate an “Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy.” The Bull of Indiction (the document which outlines the “spirit” of the year, its intentions and outcomes), uses the image of the door as a powerful symbol. The Jubilee Year was launched with the opening of the Holy Door in St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Pope Francis has declared that for this year it will be a “Door of Mercy” through which anyone who enters will experience the love of God who consoles, pardons and instils hope.
Opening Doors in the Year of Mercy challenges all those in the Catholic education community to extend tangible assistance to those in need and recognise and follow the example of those who have in some way ‘opened doors’ for others.
Catholic Education Week is held in Week 3 of Term 3 and in 2017 will be from July 23 to July 29.
Spirit of Catholic Education Awards
The recipients of the Queensland Catholic Education Commission Spirit of Catholic Education Awards which are held as part of Catholic Education Week, were announced at the official statewide launch in Brisbane on July 25.
The awards recognise individuals who are making an outstanding contribution within the Catholic education community. The Aunty Joan Hendriks Spirit of Catholic Education Reconciliation Award recognises an outstanding contribution to Reconciliation. Indigenous and non- Indigenous members of Catholic education communities are encouraged to nominate for this award.
The awards are supported by the QT Mutual Bank (QTMB), the Australian Catholic Superannuation and Retirement Fund (ACSRF) and the Australian Catholic University, the sponsors of CEW.
The 2016 award recipient from the Cairns Diocese was Tom O’Donnell from Holy Spirit College, for engaging in exceptionally life-giving relationships.
For further information, visit the Catholic Education Week Website.
Tom O’Donnell was one of the team involved in the establishment of Holy Spirit College, Cooktown and Cairns, a school that has been designed to cater for disengaged youth, who otherwise would not receive any education.
Tom is a living model of Pope Francis’ encouragement, in this Year of Mercy, to reach out to anyone in need. He greets students individually each morning while opening up the kitchen, preparing breakfast or other meals for those who haven’t eaten. He provides continual positive energy around those who have so little positivity in their lives. To see and listen to the level of respect these students have for Tom, when in the outside world they would constantly challenge any form of authority, clearly demonstrates the extraordinary relationships he has managed to create and sustain.
Tom personally knows each and every one of the students at both campuses (Cooktown and Cairns) and regularly travels the long distance between these locations in his role as Director of Students. His role at the college is a constant balancing act between government and private agencies, parents, staff and administrators where his sole purpose is to look after the welfare of each student that crosses his path on a daily basis. The fact that he manages this with a constant smile and awful jokes means that he is always able to manage potentially volatile situations with good humor and grace.
Tom truly represents the spirit of what Catholic education is all about.