The focus across all Cairns Catholic schools as they celebrated Catholic Education Week (CEW) 2016 was on opening hearts, helping those in need and spreading the word of Pope Francis.
This year’s theme, Opening Doors in the Year of Mercy, was inspired by Pope Francis who declared that from December 8, 2015 until November 2016, the Catholic Church will celebrate an “Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy”.
“The theme challenged members of the Catholic education community to extend assistance to those in need and to recognise and follow the example of those who in some way opened doors for others,” said Cairns Catholic Education Services Executive Director Bill Dixon.
Mr Dixon said during the week, and throughout the year, all schools, students, staff and school communities extended assistance to others and provided examples of how caring people show acts of mercy in a variety of ways and reach out to less-fortunate people.
As acts of mercy, schools fundraised for worthy causes and collected various items for a number of community organisations who help the needy.
Celebratory masses were held across the Diocese. On the Tablelands, seven schools and their communities came together at St Stephen’s Catholic College in Mareeba, joined by CES staff and clergy from the Western Deanery.
“CEW provides an opportunity for schools to celebrate our Catholic identity and foster a greater sense of community by encountering Christ in the Eucharist and those around us,” said St Stephen’s APRE Laura Gilbert.
“St Stephen’s was honoured to hold the Western Deanery CEW Mass for the first time and to share our beautiful college chapel and gardens with our broader Catholic education community.”
Students across all schools engaged in prayer, liturgy and service to others.
“Pope Francis themed this year to be one of mercy through the act of opening doors of reconciliation and forgiveness to all around us,” said Dianne Jakubiszyn Simpson, Acting Leadership Support at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart on Thursday Island, Term 3.
“Mercy is a wellspring of joy, serenity and peace, and this has been highlighted throughout our classrooms during CEW as teachers have provided activities and opportunities for the children to demonstrate their compassion and mercy for those less fortunate than ourselves.”
St Monica’s Cathedral opened its doors to welcome over 500 students and staff from the Northern (Cairns) Deanery and the wider community.
Workshops were facilitated by 10 members of the National Evangelisation Team at St Monica’s College and CES.
Mass was also held at Mother of Good Counsel Church in Innisfail for the six schools in the Southern Deanery and was followed by a combined schools activity day.