Dear College Community  

This week is Catholic Education Week.   

All 39 Schools and Colleges have been celebrating the valuable contribution Catholic schools have made to Tasmanian communities. Catholic Education Week is a wonderful occasion for students, teachers, families and parishes to acknowledge the strengths and achievements of Catholic schools. 

On Monday, Marist Regional College, through our Music Ministry lead the region’s Mass held in Ulverstone. They were outstanding and sung beautifully. “Battle of the Bands” was held, celebrating the College’s strong culture in the Arts, and another tradition, “Thurgood Cup” was launched with the ‘Staff versus Students’ match on Monday, with the staff taking the win. Our highlight, College Feast Day commenced this morning with a Mass, followed by many activities throughout the day. Many thanks to our staff who collectively banded together to achieve something special for the students.  

Our College Feast Day aligns with 15 August, which is the Catholic Feast of the Assumption, a dedication to Mary, the mother of Jesus. Our Marist community holds Mary very dearly to our hearts, which is obvious to all who visit the Marian Centre, with our magnificent statue on the second level of the building. You will also see another statue of Mary in our Memorial Garden, over-looking the property and out to Bass Strait.   

Through our Feast Day, Catholic Education Week is about strengthening relationships between all those that have a stake in our schools – students, teachers, parents/guardians, parishioners and members of the wider community. Our unique spirit helps us achieve this here at the College, and from our relationships externally with others. For those students who are recent arrivals to the College, I have had many parents comment to me that their child has “changed” since their enrolment with us.  

With a tradition of more than 196 years in Tasmania, as well as a bicentennial celebration nationally this year, we have much to celebrate. Did you know that we have never had proportionally more students attend Catholic schools? Our College has had particularly high enrolments in recent times. We are at capacity in Year 8 and 10, with very limited spaces in other grades. For Year 7 in 2022, we will be at capacity and have waiting lists.  

Despite being somewhat a positive indicator, I don’t believe that enrolment growth is a key measure of success. However, more families are wanting to know about Catholic Education and what it can provide their children, regardless of background, ability, cultural beliefs, level of education, financial situation, and other factors. We are an education “for all”.  

We aim to provide, within reason, what is necessary for every child to flourish. We don’t apologise that our approach sometimes looks unconventional. Our focus, with families and the child, is to do what it possible to support each individual to achieve their personal best.  

Blessed Mary MacKillop has been a key focus as a pioneer of Catholic Education in Australia. Also known as “Mary of the Cross”, St Mary MacKillop collaborated with Fr Julian Tenison-Woods to be the founders of the Sisters of St Joseph, a Religious Order that saw many dedicate their lives to God through a service to others, particularly young people through the establishment of Josephite schools.  

The Josephite legacy started in Penola, South Australia, where Mary and Julian commenced their work. My wife, Amanda and I visited Penola in 2012, as well as the coastal village, Portland in Victoria where Mary MacKillop grew up after being born in Fitzroy.  

Josephite schools will always play a special place in my heart, having either attended as a student or being a professional at Sacred Heart Catholic School in Ulverstone, St Joseph’s Catholic School, Rosebery and St Peter Chanel Catholic School, Smithton. St Brigid’s Catholic School, Wynyard, was founded by the Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, but had many years being led by the “Josephites” as a dual charism school.  

Imagine founding a school in the early 1900s in the most remote locations of Tasmania with very limited resources? The Josephites preferenced the “tougher” challenges, establishing schools in places such as Queenstown, Geeveston and many other remote locations around the state. 

Mary MacKillop lived a life of “contemplative action”. This meant she saw God in the simple things, and was always a gift of compassion and love to those around her. Mary valued the dignity of each person she met and responded to the needs of her time, “Never see a need without doing something about it” was one of her central mantras and actions. 

Mary invites us to be contemplative and at peace in the messiness of our lives. Finding this peace can seem beyond us when we are troubled or suffering a deep hurt. It is in prayer, meditation and silence that comfort can be found.  

There are people in our community suffering at the present time, particularly through the passing of loved ones. We pray for you.  

This Catholic Education Week and on our Feast Day, we leave you with the following prayer that may provide you with strength, hope, energy and encouragement at this time: 

Loving God,
Guide us to be people of joy and happiness to look for the goodness in our own lives, in our friends and families and the people who value and love us for who we are. Help us to look to the needs of others and encourage all those we meet to feel accepted and loved. 

Help us to be calm in the storms that life creates for us or that are of our own making.
Guide us to draw peace from the moments of unexpected joy that arrive in every day.
Show us your love and mercy that we might be encouraged and encourage others to live with hope. 

Strengthen us with the resolve to follow the deepest callings of our hearts. Help us to listen attentively to the whisperings of the Spirit that leads us to be more fully alive and be our true selves. 


In partnership 


Mr Gregg Sharman