Welcome to the start of the 2019 school year, after what I trust was a restful and enjoyable holiday.
Many students, families, and staff are returning to school communities that they know well, but I extend a special welcome to those of you who are joining us for the first time, whether in the early years, perhaps at one of our secondary or composite schools for Year 7, those of you who may be new to WA, and of course our new educators and staff!
We finished last year celebrating the graduation of almost 5000 Year 12 students from CEWA schools and colleges, and were inspired looking back at their outstanding achievements over the years. Importantly, we were once again reminded of the significant roles our staff have in supporting our students to graduate as hope-filled individuals who will positively contribute to their communities and our broader society.
As we begin the year, I encourage you to reflect on the culture, purpose and importance of Catholic education. CEWA’s commitment is to each student in our classrooms as well as each individual who directly or indirectly supports our students to discover their unique, God-given gifts and talents. With this in mind, we will continue to open our ears and our hearts to the needs of the children and young people entrusted in our care, to learn from them and guide them as they discover their place in a world envisioned by Christ.
This commitment is central to the Strategic Directions 2019–2021 which have been introduced by the Catholic Education Commission of Western Australia (CECWA). In setting out four key priorities: Inspiring Christ-Centred Leaders; Catholic Schools of Excellence; Catholic Pastoral Communities; and Accessible, Affordable and Sustainable System of Schools, the document provides clarity and coherence across our system, enabling us to remain responsive to the changing education landscape while maintaining the focus on our mission.
With the Strategic Directions in mind, 2019 and 2020 will be significant years for Catholic education, as we strive to ensure that CEWA continues to deliver the best educational and formational opportunities possible.
Pope Francis envisions our youth as a generation of action, a “social doctrine with feet” who will lead and transform the world through peace, justice and dignity.
In 2019, the Archdiocese of Perth will have the privilege of hosting the 2019 Australian Catholic Youth Festival. This will be an exciting opportunity for young Catholics to connect and deepen their relationship with Jesus, celebrate the vitality of the Church, and help to lead and transform the world through peace, justice and dignity.
The theme for this year’s ACYF, ‘Listen to what the Spirit is saying’ (Rev 2:7), echoes the Pope’s call for Catholics to keep an open channel of communication with God, while reaffirming the dialogue and conversations leading towards Plenary Council 2020. Australian Catholics have been asked the question ‘What do you think God is asking of us in Australia at this time?’, and we have until Ash Wednesday (6 March) to share our answers during this first phase of dialogue.
I have no doubt that 2019 will present many exciting challenges and opportunities for our schools, students and staff, and I pray it will be filled with joy, progress and accomplishment.
Dr Debra Sayce
Catholic Education Western Australia